Nutrition science can be super confusing since there is so much conflicting advice out there on the internet, so I wanted to start out simple. For many of you, this may be review but I can’t tell you how many times during one-on-one sessions with clients that I get to the end of a session and realize that there is still some confusion about the three macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Originally, when I set out to write this blog post I thought I would write about all three macronutrients. Turns out, this is much too difficult to do in just one post. What better place to start than with simple carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are probably the most villainized of the three macronutrients at this point in time. However, carbohydrates are super important! Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. The difference between simple and complex carbohydrates are the number of saccharide molecules. Simple carbohydrates are monosaccharides and disaccharides, which means they consist of one or two molecules and are also referred to as sugars. Of these, only fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose are commonly found in foods.
Glucose is the most common simple carbohydrate and is the brain’s preferred source of energy. Plants produce glucose through photosynthesis. Fructose is the sweetest natural sugar that is found in fruits and vegetables. It can also be highly processed to produce high-fructose corn syrup. Lactose is milk sugar. Maltose is involved in the fermentation process that produces liquor products. Finally, sucrose is one fructose molecule and one glucose molecule joined together. Sucrose is responsible for the sweet taste of honey, maple syrup, and sugarcane. Processed sugarcane is known as table sugar.
Even simple carbohydrates have a place in a healthy diet. When do I recommend simple carbohydrate? Before a work out, when you need a fast boost of energy, if you have inflammation in your gut or intestine (such as Crohns or ulcerative colitis), and as an additional flavoring that might increase your consumption of other nutrients such as vegetables. An example of this is my Go-To Green Smoothie Recipe. Click here to get the recipe and let me know what you think!