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Did you know American’s consumption of carbohydrates (carbs) has increased almost 50% in the past three decades? A study revealed that over a 30 year period, our intake of protein was constant, our fat intake actually dropped, but the amount of carbohydrates in our diet increased dramatically. In the age of convenience, processed foods, with added sugar, invade kitchens to promote time-saving tactics, but in reality, they are adding inches to our waistlines. We are here to help you make sense of how simple and complex carbs affect your body.

There are two types of carbohydrates everyone should know about: simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are called simple sugars which can be found in refined sugar and sweeter additives. Processed or refined sugars provide no nutritional value and are considered empty calories. However, simple sugar found in fruit also include the benefits of vitamins, fiber, and calcium. Complex carbs come in the form of starches found in bread, pasta and rice. Refined grains are processed, decreasing the nutrients and fiber. On the opposite side, the unrefined grains are rich in fiber and provide nutrients the refined products lack.

Ultimately, the goal is to limit your carb intake. When you eat carbs, the body breaks them down into simple sugars to enter the bloodstream.   When the sugar level increases in your body, the pancreas goes to work to release a hormone called insulin. From here the insulin moves the sugar into the cells where it provides a source of energy. If you consume simple sugar, this energy source is short lived and you will feel hungry sooner and crave more. With complex carbs, the process is slower, therefore, you feel fuller longer and your energy lasts longer.

So, what happens when there is too much sugar in the bloodstream? When insulin is unable to restore balance to move sugar to cells for energy, it relays a message to the liver to store them as fat. Once the glycogen stores are filled, the liver converts glucose into triglycerides and stores the fat in the tissue. In addition, the liver continues to signal cells to stop breaking down fat in storage, and that in return makes you gain weight and prevents you from losing weight.

Do you have questions about simple and complex carbs? Start here with Ideal Protein, a weight loss method that helps you make permanent lifestyle changes to improve your overall well-being.