Like Fine Wine, the Body's Fuel Is Sweet But Complex
Sugar! It's delicious and, contrary to popular belief, we need some every day: around 100 calories for women and 150 calories for men. You are not likely to dip a teaspoon into the sugar bowl for your daily fix. Rather the sugar will come in these simple forms: fructose found in fruits, galactose found in dairy products, and glucose found in fruits, grains, cereals, and breads. Though some sugars taste better than others, the sugar the body uses as a main fuel source for daily activities is glucose, which is a carbohydrate. The body functions at optimum rate when carbs are burning at a steady rate all day.
So, what's the best way to keep the inner fire going? Look to consume complex carbohydrates. Their complexity is defined by the large structure of the sugar molecules in their makeup. Take, for example, a potato (that appears on the menu in a variety of forms, such as fries, salad, and mashed). Potatoes are carbohydrates, of course, but they can be designated as complex because of their staggering amount of larger chains of sugar. That very complexity is what causes the sugars to be released slowly, around a time period of two to four hours, thus allowing you to feel steadily energized and less hungry as you go about your merry day.
Grains are another good carb source, and their activity in the body is related to whether they are refined or whole. Refined grains have had natural nutrients (such as the bran and the germ) removed, which streamlines a quick release of their sugar contents into the body. Insulin, a hormone discharged by the pancreas, is not designed to absorb sugar at such a firehose rate. Complications ensue! Diabetes may be the most serious. Whole grains, on the other hand, have not been stripped of their complexity. Therefore, as mentioned before, they are a slower burn and a more constant source of fuel. Some good choices are brown rice, oats, barley, and millet. So when choosing your daily bread, select whole grains (brown bread) and avoid refined grains (white bread). Make sure your body doesn't experience a fuel shortage!