Functions of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are critical components of a healthy body and a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
In the Body
Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, its key source of energy. The brain, red blood cells, and nervous system can use only glucose for fuel to perform their many functions. Most cells in the body use glucose to support breathing, contract and relax muscles (including the heart muscle), regulate body temperature and fluid balance, and support physical activity or exercise.
As noted, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, which provides energy. If your body makes more glucose than it needs for immediate energy, some is stored as glycogen either in your liver or in your muscles. Liver glycogen stores are used to regulate blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels, whereas muscle glycogen stores provide energy to fuel muscular work such as exercise.
Glycogen can be broken down and used for energy if you don’t consume enough calories or sufficient dietary carbohydrates. Because no more than half a day’s worth of glycogen can be stored in the body at any given time, it’s important to regularly consume carbohydrate-rich foods and beverages to provide the energy you need for all your daily activites.
If your body makes more glucose than it needs for immediate energy or for storage, it is stored in your fat cells and becomes body fat.
Protect Body Proteins
If you consume too little carbohydrate, and at the same time you take in fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its weight, your body beaks down some of its proteins (including muscle tissue) to create glucose to fuel the brain, lungs, and many body cells. Losing muscle slows down your metabolic rate and makes it easier to gain weight (and harder to lose weight). Using body proteins for energy doesn’t let them perform some of the their vital function, including building and repairing muscle tissue, acting as enzymes or hormones, and supporting the immune system.
To prevent your body from using proteins to create energy, you need to consume 50-100 grams of dietary carbohydrate each day. Here’s what that looks like in terms of food:
• 50 grams of carbohydrate = 1 cup skim milk + ½ cup (16) grapes + 1 slice whole wheat bread + and ¼ cup kidney beans, cooked
• 100 grams of carbohydrate = 11/2 cups strawberries + 1 cup whole wheat pasta + 1 cup low-fat yogurt + 2 tablespoons raisins + 1 small banana
Although carbohydrates supply the body with its main source of energy, fats can also play this role. However, the liver needs some dietary carbohydrate to fully break down fat into energy the body can use. When you don’t consume enough dietary carbohydrate or have enough stored glycogen over a long period of time (for example, if you’re starving, have cut your calories and/or carbohydrate intake too drastically, have diabetes, or have chronic alcoholism), your body creates small chemicals called ketone bodies that can be used for energy by most body cells. When your body makes more ketones than it needs for energy, a dangerous condition called ketosis can develop, increasing sodium and water loss from the body. This can cause symptoms such as nausea, weakness, and fatigue.
All of the USANA® Foods in RESET are guaranteed to be low glycemic. As the foundation of a nutritious diet, low-glycemic foods release energy slowly and do not cause drastic blood glucose spikes and crashes. Therefore, you don’t feel hungry as quickly, so you don’t feel an overwhelming need to eat, which may help you lose weight. In addition, the fiber content of USANA RESET helps provide a long-lasting sense of fullness to help reduce hunger levels throughout the day.