Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in the health and fitness world, but they are an essential part of our diet. They provide us with energy and play a crucial role in many bodily functions.
You may be wondering what actually happens to carbs once you eat them. Here, we’ll explore the journey of carbohydrates through your body and answer some common questions you may have.
The Journey Begins: Your Mouth
The digestion of carbohydrates begins as soon as you take a bite. Your saliva contains an enzyme called amylase that starts breaking down starches into simple sugars. This is why it’s important to chew your food well.
Once the carbs are broken down in your mouth, they travel down your esophagus and into your stomach.
In the stomach, carbohydrates continue to be broken down by enzymes while they mix with stomach acids and other digestive juices.
But unlike protein or fat which take longer to digest, carbohydrates pass through the stomach quickly and move on to the small intestine.
Now that we’ve covered what happens in our mouths let’s talk about where carbs go from here. . .
Absorption Into Your Bloodstream
After leaving the stomach, carbs enter into the duodenum-atherosclerotic vein-elevated liver enzymes-sphincter of oddi complex before finally reaching small intestines where most absorption occurs, and this is where things get interesting. . .
Here’s how it works:
- Simple sugars such as glucose can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream
- Other carbohydrate structures must first be broken down by enzymes specific for those sugars before being absorbed
- Once absorbed, these molecules travel through capillaries to reach various organs like liver or brain depending on its requirement.
- Liver then process glucose for storing glycogen if required later otherwise release it immediately into the bloodstream.
This process of absorption happens quickly and can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which is why it’s important to control your carbohydrate intake – especially if you have diabetes or insulin resistance.
Now that glucose has entered our bloodstream, our body uses what energy it needs and ‘stores’ the rest in various organs like kidneys as Glycogen for future use. Glycogen is essentially a bunch of glucose molecules linked together that are stored in the liver and muscle tissue for later energy usage when needed by the body.
Additionally, when muscles contract during exercise they pull on glycogen stores as an energy source, essentially liberating them back into circulation
- Any excess carbohydrates consumed beyond their immediate need will be stored as fat in adipose tissues mainly under skin, between muscles etc
- Carbs can also bind with water to form something called glycated proteins which result from prolonged exposure to high blood sugars-that doesn’t sound fun!
So always keep track of your total carbohydrate intake so as not consume more carbs than you require daily.
Q&A: Common Carb Questions
Q: Are all carbs created equally?
Nope! There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs include things like table sugar while Complex carbs on the other hand contain structures such as fibres or starches that requires more time/drives up satiety to digest and absorb giving gradual rise in BG over time. It’s better if we concentrate on complex-carbohydrates rather than simple versions since latter doesn’t actually provide any nutritional benefit other than limited availabilityand hence results mostly just extra calories being consumed without any essential nutrients required by our body.
Q: Is low-carb healthy?
Perhaps-not entirely true but current research points towards potential benefits including weight loss, improved digestion & metabolic control through lower carb consumption over long run unless there is some underlying health conditions inhibiting same.
Q: Can carbs make you fat?
Eating too many calories, regardless of whether those are from carbs, protein or fats will lead to weight gain.
However!, Carbs attract some water molecules due to osmolarity effect and if the net energy intake is greater than output throughout day then some of this excess carbohydrates gets converted into fat later on while any surplus glucose finds itself being stored as glycogen.
Q: How much carbs should I be eating?
The recommended daily intake for carbs varies based on factors such as age, sex and level of physical activity etc. Generally speaking though an average adult needs about 150-250g/day depending upon their goals which may need adjustment over time based upon other dietary requirements/status quo/symptoms
Carbohydrates play a vital role in our diet, providing us with energy and essential nutrients that we need to keep our bodies functioning properly. As long as we’re mindful of our carbohydrate intake and strive for wholesome complex-carb sources it can certainly complement a healthy lifestyle!
So what happens when we consume carbs?. Answer doesn’t have to be complicated at all-most people only know little facts regarding their journey but now hopefully with your newfound knowledge you can start making wiser choices!