Carbohydrates are biomolecules that are converted into glucose that the body needs to perform its functions. Sugar, fiber and starch are the most common forms. Along with proteins and fats, it is one of the three essential nutrients for the body.

Carbohydrates are biomolecules that are converted into glucose that the body needs to perform its functions. Sugar, fiber and starch are the most common forms. Along with proteins and fats, it is one of the three essential nutrients for the body.

It consists of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) atoms. When carbohydrates are taken into the body, they are converted into glucose by digestive system enzymes. Glucose is the basic need of energy for body cells, tissues and organs.

Glucose is used immediately when needed or stored in the liver and muscle tissue for later use.

Carbohydrates are evaluated in four different groups:

  • Monosaccharides: Contains one polyhydroxy aldehyde or ketone unit (glucose, fructose, galactose, etc.)
  • Disaccharides: Formed by combining two monosaccharides with covalent bonds (lactose, maltose, sucrose, etc.),
  • Oligosaccharides: Formed by the combination of 3-10 monosaccharide units (raffinose etc.),
  • Polysaccharides: It is formed by the combination of many (sometimes hundreds, thousands) monosaccharide units (cellulose, glycogen, starch, etc.).

Monosaccharides and disaccharides are often referred to as sugars.

What foods contain carbohydrates?

  • Cereals (bread, pasta, noodles, rice etc.),
  • Fruits (apple, orange, peach, melon, banana, strawberry, mango etc.),
  • Vegetables (potatoes, corn, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, etc.),
  • Milk and milk products,
  • Nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.),
  • Legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, etc.),
  • Desserts (cake, pastry, cookies, candy, etc.),
  • Beverages (juices, carbonated drinks, energy drinks etc.),

What are the functions of carbohydrates?

  • Provides energy through oxidation,
  • Provides carbon for the synthesis of cell components,
  • It acts as a form of stored chemical energy,
  • It is part of some tissue and cell structures.

 How should I get the carbohydrates I need for a healthy diet?

Carbohydrates are essential nutrients needed for energy production. But not all carbohydrates are healthy for the body. It is necessary to make the right choice among products containing carbohydrates.

  • Carbohydrates are necessary for energy, mostly used during the day for energy. For this reason, carbohydrate intake in the early hours of the day ensures that it is consumed during the day and does not accumulate and cause weight gain, etc. More protein should be preferred late in the day.
  • Unprocessed grain products should be preferred. Whole wheat bread, wholemeal bread, etc. can be consumed instead of white bread. You can start the day with products that contain whole grains and do not contain additives. It is recommended that these contain 4 mg of fiber and less than 8 mg of sugar per serving.
  • Instead of whole grain/whole wheat bread, products containing brown rice and quinoa can be tried.
  • Consume the fruit itself instead of fruit juice.
  • Fibrous fruits and vegetables should be preferred.
  • Foods containing too much sugar raise blood sugar and make you gain weight.
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas can be preferred instead of potatoes.
  • Choose low-fat milk and dairy products.
  • Do not choose products with added sugar or other additives.
  • Choose carbohydrate sources (whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk, etc.) with a low glycemic index (potential to raise blood sugar).

How many carbohydrates do I need?

Carbohydrates are energy sources necessary for the body. 45-65% of energy needs are met from carbohydrates.

When the body cannot reach carbohydrates, it uses fats and proteins for energy.

The need for carbohydrates varies according to the energy needed depending on the age, activity level, gender, body weight of the person. Daily carbohydrate need is 45-65% of a person’s daily calorie needs. In other words, a person who needs to take 2000 calories per day should get 900-1300 calories from carbohydrates. 1 gram of carbohydrate produces 4 calories of energy. So this person should take 225-325 g of carbohydrates daily.

Carbohydrate intake below this helps to lose weight, while carbohydrate intake above it helps to gain weight.

According to the calorie levels in the packages of the consumed products, the daily carbohydrate level can be easily followed.

Do low-carb diets harm health?

Carbohydrates are instrumental in the production of energy, as well as in the supply of fibers necessary for the body.

Low-carb diets, which are based on the thesis of excessive fat accumulation by increasing insulin secretion, may cause a decrease in fiber supply. Its possible effects on heart health are also unknown.

The advanced form of low-carb diets is the keto diet. This diet is more popular with artists due to its rapid weight loss.

It can have effects such as bad breath, headache, constipation, nausea, insomnia.

It may be a suitable option in some cases such as type 2 diabetes, epilepsy diseases.

It is better to do such diets under the supervision of a dietitian or doctor, to use conscious carbohydrates and to choose healthy diet options instead of a carbohydrate-restricted diet.