Did you know that carbohydrates consist of sugars and that these sugars are converted into glucose? Glucose is the fuel that (after alcohol) is burned first. Especially muscles and the brain like to use glucose. Excess glucose is stored as glycogen, a long chain of sugars that can be stored in the liver and muscles. Is this stock full? Then you store new glucose from your diet as fat. The fat storage system is a very useful system in times of starvation. But today there is often no more than a few hours between meals …
There are different types of carbohydrates that differ from each other in complexity and how the body absorbs them. But they also have one thing in common: carbohydrates, with the exception of fiber, are converted into glucose.
The different types of carbohydrates are:
- Simple sugars (or monosaccharides). These are the sugars that are absorbed the fastest. Think of the dextro that you might take during exercise, for example. But honey, sweets and fruit also contain this type of sugars. The body absorbs these sugars quickly, resulting in a glucose peak. This peak of simple sugars often drops again quickly. Is fruit just as unhealthy as dextro? That is not entirely the case, because fruit also contains vitamins, minerals and fiber. The fibers in fruit ensure that the sugars are absorbed less quickly, but there are indeed many sugars in fruit. So be careful with that glass of fruit juice!
- Double sugars (or disaccharides). These are sugars that are a bit more complex, so that the body has to do a little more effort to break down these sugars into glucose. An example of this is lactose which is in dairy products, but also the normal table sugar is an example of this. As an example: a container of low-fat quark with fruit therefore consists entirely of simple and double sugars.
- Multiple sugars (or starches). These are the most complex sugars. The body has to work hardest for these sugars to convert them into glucose. This ensures that these sugars often cause a lower peak, but that the glucose levels remain higher for longer because the body is still processing it. Examples of products containing these multiple sugars are wholemeal bread, potatoes and brown rice. These long chains of sugars must first be “cut up” by the body into the simple sugars. This makes digestion take longer.
Glucose, weight and energy
Carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body and stored in the liver and muscles to serve as fuel when our body needs it. The excess glucose is converted into fat by means of insulin. There are several types of fat in the body, the best known are visceral (between organs) and subcutaneous (subcutaneous) fat. Visceral fat is the type of fat that collects behind the abdominal muscles and cannot be grasped. Too much visceral fat is unhealthy and can lead to health risks. Peaks in glucose are often followed by dips. This can cause the well-known “after lunch / dinner dip” and again a feeling of hunger. Do you ever suffer from concentration problems after lunch? This may be due to a wrong choice of diet. Because we work from home more often due to corona and automatically have more problems with concentration, choosing the right lunch can help you through the day.
So we want to avoid the following situation:
We prefer to choose food that does not cause an excessive increase and decrease:
How do you put together a balanced meal that neither leads to a significant increase nor a sharp drop? Since everyone reacts differently to food, you may have to make adjustments to greater or lesser extent. It does not necessarily mean that you should exclude all sugars or carbohydrates from your diet. Adjusting the types of carbohydrates, the combination with the right fats, portion sizes and the right amount of exercise (think of a walk after dinner, for example) can make all the difference for you.