Carbohydrates are organic compounds, found in plant-based and processed foods, that are responsible for providing your body with energy. There are two categories of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates have one or two sugars and are absorbed and digested more quickly. Simple carbs are found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy, as well as processed candy, desserts, and colas. Complex carbs, which have starches and fiber, must be digested before it's converted into energy. Examples of these types of carbs include potatoes, white bread, white rice, and beans.[1, 3]
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests that between 45% and 65% of total daily calories -- or 225g to 325g -- come from carbohydrates, especially complex carbs and natural sugars. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, and legumes (beans, lentils, and dried peas) to boost your carb intake.
Carbohydrates provide the body -- especially the brain and nervous system -- with energy. The body gets this energy from glucose, a product of carbohydrate breakdown.
Other uses include:
Protection against disease, cardiovascular disease in particular. Fiber may curb obesity and type 2 diabetes, and promote digestive health.
Weight control: Vegetables, fruits and whole grains promote a feeling of fullness, which can reduce overeating. Glucose that is broken down from sugars, refined grains, and starches provides the body with bursts energy, which is great for athletes. Pick complex carbohydrates that burn more slowly and sustain energy longer.
Fiber is the part of a plant that humans can't digest, but it still plays an important role in your health:[2, 4]
Slows nutrient absorption, which may help prevent erratic blood sugar levels
Makes you feel fuller longer, which can reduce binge snacking or overeating
The amount of fiber we need decreases with age:
Men require 38g at age 50 and younger, but 30g after age 50.
Women require 25g at age 50 and younger, but 21g after age 50.
The glycemic index classifies carbohydrates based on their potential to raise blood sugar levels. A score of 70 and above means the food has a high glycemic index, while a score of 55 and below means the food has a low glycemic index. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and legumes rank low on the glycemic index since they are slower to digest and don't spike blood sugar. Potatoes, white bread, and corn, though, rank high since they cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly. You don't have to stop eating high glycemic foods, just go easy on them.[3, 4]
Many factors can affect a food's glycemic index, including:
Type of starch
Amount of fiber
The degree of ripeness
Extent of processing
Concerns / Potential Side Effects
Eating too many carbohydrates can spike total caloric intake and lead to weight gain and obesity.
Eating too few carbohydrates can cause malnutrition.
If you don't get enough carbohydrates, you might find yourself making up for it by eating too much fat.
Foods that are sugar free tend to have added sugar alcohols and other sweeteners. These can cause intestinal problems, such as gas and diarrhea. Look for lactitol, mannitol, and sorbitol on the list of ingredients.
Low- and no-fat foods often contain higher amounts of sugar to make up for reduced fat.
Some carbohydrates are beneficial while others can increase your risk for diabetes and coronary heart disease.
Americans tend to eat white -- or refined -- grains, and generally don't get enough fiber.
Added sugars provide plenty of calories and aren't very nutritious. Look for high fructose corn syrup or brown/white sugar on the ingredients list.
University of Maryland Medical Center; "Carbohydrates--All Informaiton;" Updated 2013
WebMD.com; "Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: Why Carbohydrates Matter to You;" Reviewed 2008
Mayo Clinic; "Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit Into A Healthy Diet;" February 2011
Harvard School of Public Health; "Carbohydrates"
MedlinePlus; "Carbohydrates;" Updated 2012
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Carbohydrates Deals & Price Alerts
The following deals are still active:
- Apr 24, 2018: MAN Sports Sports ISO-Carb 30 Servings (only Dorks, Neutral, Sour Batch) dropped by 20.0% to $15.99 at Muscle and Strength
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- Apr 18, 2018: Met-Rx Super Hydration Sports Drink 12 Bottles (only Orange Mango) dropped by 21.0% to $19.76 at DPS Nutrition
- Apr 18, 2018: GU Roctane 24 Servings (only Tropical Fruit) dropped by 9.7% to $37.99 at Jet.com
- Apr 17, 2018: NOW Dextrose 10 Lbs. dropped by 17.1% to $17.99 at DPS Nutrition
- Apr 14, 2018: Performix Carbon 2 Lbs. dropped by 20.0% to $39.99 at GNC
- Apr 11, 2018: Pro Supps PURE Karbolyn 4.4 Lbs. (only Unflavored) dropped by 46.9% to $38.26 at i-Supplements.com
- Apr 11, 2018: NutraBio CarboMax 5 Lbs. dropped by 20.6% to $24.99 at NutraBio
- Apr 09, 2018: Ryno Power Carbo-Fuel 2 Lbs. dropped by 30.1% to $34.95 at Amazon.com
- Apr 05, 2018: Pro Supps PURE Karbolyn 4.4 Lbs. (only Strawberry) dropped by 46.9% to $38.26 at i-Supplements.com
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- Apr 04, 2018: Universal Carbo Plus 1 Lb. dropped by 7.0% to $6.29 at AllStarHealth
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- Jan 02, 2018: Pro Supps PURE Karbolyn 2.2 Lbs. (only Fruit Punch) dropped by 48.6% to $23.13 at i-Supplements.com
- Dec 16, 2017: NOW Dextrose 2 Lbs. dropped by 12.6% to $3.57 at DPS Nutrition
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- Dec 04, 2017: Pro Supps PURE Karbolyn 4.4 Lbs. (only Chocolate, Fruit Punch, Orange) dropped by 46.9% to $38.26 at i-Supplements.com
- Dec 03, 2017: Pro Supps PURE Karbolyn 2.2 Lbs. (only Orange) dropped by 48.6% to $23.13 at i-Supplements.com
- Oct 17, 2017: Pro Supps Karbolic 16 Servings (only Power Punch) dropped by 11.8% to $22.75 at Lockout Supplements
- Sep 30, 2017: MTS Nutrition Machine Carb 10 2 Lbs. (only Unflavored) dropped by 25.0% to $20.95 at IllPumpYouUp.com
- Sep 08, 2017: Pacific Health Accel Gel 24 Packets (only Strawberry Kiwi) dropped by 16.8% to $26.99 at AllStarHealth
- Jun 09, 2017: Pacific Health 2nd Surge 8 Packets (only Chocolate) dropped by 11.0% to $12.99 at AllStarHealth
- Jun 08, 2017: Pacific Health Accel Gel 24 Packets (only Chocolate w/ Caffeine) dropped by 7.0% to $26.99 at AllStarHealth
- Jun 08, 2017: Pacific Health Accel Gel 24 Packets (only Vanilla) dropped by 16.8% to $26.99 at AllStarHealth
- May 03, 2017: Pacific Health Accel Gel 24 Packets (only Citrus Orange) dropped by 17.0% to $26.99 at AllStarHealth
- Nov 24, 2016: Universal Carbo Plus 2.2 Lbs. dropped by 16.1% to $6.95 at A1 Supplements
- Jul 06, 2016: Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats 24 Oz. dropped by 20.0% to $3.83 at VitaCost.com
- Jul 05, 2016: Species Carbolyze 3.5 Lbs. (only Mango) dropped by 12.7% to $27.02 at VitaCost.com
- Jul 05, 2016: Species Carbolyze 3.5 Lbs. (only Fruit Punch) dropped by 7.2% to $28.73 at VitaCost.com
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Carbohydrates Reviews & YouTube Videos
Aug 18, 2017: ULTIMATE ORANGE Pre Workout Is Back | DMAA vs Ephedrine
Jan 21, 2017: Nutrient Timing Discussion - Mike & CJ
Dec 17, 2016: BIOS3 IntraCell Review: BCAAs with Pumps + 20g Carbs
Apr 14, 2014: ARO Recovery Post Workout Review
Feb 27, 2013: NOW Whey Protein Isolate Review - Vanilla
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Carbohydrates Topics in the PricePlow Forum
- Jan 08, 2018: Research Confirms it: The "Sugar Coma" is REAL! But When is it Worst?
- Oct 30, 2017: NYTimes Op-Ed: It's Getting Clearer - The Diet-Cancer Connection Points to Sugar and Carbs
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- Dec 10, 2015: NutraBio Super Carb: Supreme Cluster Dextrin Workout Fuel