So you want that extra boost of energy. Perhaps you’ve been feeling rather fatigued lately, or maybe you’re about to hit the gym. Bottom line is, you’ve been told time and again that carbohydrates are the go-to foods for your energy storing needs. Now you’re on a quest to consume some food with carbohydrates…but where can they be found?
Carbohydrates, often called “go” foods, are found in a wide variety of dishes. In a typical day, you are likely to come across many examples of food with carbohydrates. They come in three forms – starch, sugar, and fiber. We will give you examples of carbohydrate-rich foods under each of these categories.
Let’s begin with starchy carbs. Starchy foods are said to contain complex carbohydrates, and are generally considered to be healthier than food with simple carbohydrates, or sugars. These foods are a part of almost every meal – you have bread, potatoes, cereals, rice, pasta, and grains. They are often served as savory food, as in the case of pasta, pizza, or rice, but are also sometimes used as dessert, such as in the case of muffins or bread pudding. Many breakfast foods also fall under the starchy carb classification, including timeless favorites such as oatmeal, cornflakes, and french toast.
Within the classification of starchy carbohydrates, some foods are healthier than others – for example, brown bread and whole grains are well-known diet foods, while french fries and potato chips are regarded as junk food.
You’ve probably heard of the “sugar rush” – a sudden increase of energy you experience after eating something sweet. This happens because sugar is a carbohydrate. Any food which is sweet and contains sugar contains carbohydrates. This includes almost all dessert foods to which sugar has been added, sweet drinks, candy, and fruits (although sugar levels in different fruits vary).
Just as it is with starch, sugars also differ in their healthiness level. Natural sugars, like those found in fruits (called fructose) or milk (called lactose) are healthier, while refined sugar (called sucrose), is less healthy. This is also known as table sugar or confectioner’s sugar and is added to a many processed foods, including pastries, cookies, and candy bars. We should only take minimal amounts of foods containing refined sugar, including candies, cakes, and softdrinks. This is because only a small amount of refined sugar is broken down and used by the body – the rest is converted into fat.
The third classification of carbohydrates is the fiber group. This includes food such as brans (oat, wheat, corn), seeds (sesame, flax, sunflower), legumes, and whole grains. Fiber has the additional benefit of taking care of the digestive system, so it is advisable to incorporate as many of these foods with carbohydrates into your diet. It is easy to add fiber-rich food into your meals – simply mix some bran into your muffins or some kidney or garbanzo beans into your soup.
Now that you know which foods contain carbohydrates, it should be no trouble to obtain all the energy your body needs! Just be careful to remember that even within the carbohydrate group, there are healthier and less healthy foods, and it is always important to eat a balanced diet.