In this guide, we’ll try to explain what a carbohydrate is and how carbohydrates (carbs) affect calories in food. Carbs are one of three main calorie-containing macronutrients in food (the other two being protein and fat). When you are counting your calories and trying to lose weight, you should always remember to keep an eye on your carbohydrate intake. Here’s why:
Starch and Sugar
Carbohydrates are most familiar to us when they are in the form of either starch or sugar. Typical starchy foods include many everyday staples like wheat (think bread and pasta), rice, and potato. Sugary foods take the form of fruits and all manner of processed foods and drink. If it is sweet, it usually has lots of sugar in it! In a nutshell, that’s it: carbohydrate-rich foods are either starchy, or sugary, or both. Your body naturally craves carbohydrates because they are an easily digested energy source.
Are Carbs a Thermogenic Food?
Thermogenic foods are those which require a significant amount of energy to digest. This is a useful characteristic for people who are trying to lose weight, because thermogenic foods cause an increase in metabolism (as the body expends energy to digest the thermogenic food). Proteins are the best macronutrient thermogenic food. Fats are the least thermogenic and carbohydrates are in between in terms of thermogenic effectiveness.