Carbohydrate Nourishment: Fuel For Your Brain

Posted at 11:31 pm on 07/21/2014 by Brandon McElroy

Bloated, puffy, unpleasant, nasty, drained, weak, depleted; what’s your too-many-daily-grams of carbohydrate feeling? Carbohydrates come in many different forms: some are digestible some are not, there are complex and there are simple carbohydrates, and some carbohydrates contain soluble fiber while others contain insoluble fiber.  We should never deplete our body of carbohydrate fuel; rather we need to ingest the proper carbohydrates. There are a great deal of misconceptions about carbohydrates in our society and I intend to lay them to rest. Carbohydrates have many different functions in our body.  Did you know the body actually prefers carbohydrates as the desired fuel? The basic form of carbohydrate energy is the simple sugar glucose. Studies have shown that carbohydrates are the limiting energy substrate and that means when our carbohydrate fuel runs out, we will reach a point of exhaustion.  Small/frequent meals with carbohydrates are recommended to sustain blood glucose levels. Glucose is the primary fuel for the central nervous system, also known as your brain and spinal cord, and if your brain does not receive sufficient energy, mental fatigue will occur and mental fatigue will lead to muscular fatigue.


Examples of Good High-Carbohydrate Snacks:


     Apple                         Fruit Cup                                   Orange Juice

                     Grapes                      Oatmeal                                     Beans

                     Banana                      Energy Bar                                Whole-Wheat Toast

                     Mixed Berries            Fruit Smoothie                           Popcorn



Believe it or not, carbohydrates actually oxidize (burn) fats. Have you ever heard the saying “Fats burn in a carbohydrate flame?” In order to burn fats efficiently and completely, some carbohydrates are needed. Think about it this way, after everything you just read about how carbohydrates (glucose) fuels our brain and spinal cord, how do you think you will have the energy to burn that unwanted belly fat if you aren’t consuming the proper carbohydrates? Speaking of burning belly fat, are you interested in losing weight or decreasing your body fat composition? The glycemic index of foods is a measure of how carbohydrate foods will affect your blood sugar level. When we consume carbohydrates our blood glucose level will rise. To combat the increase in blood glucose, our pancreas releases insulin as a mechanism to maintain glucose balance. After years of this viscous cycle taking place, the pancreas will essentially “burn out” and will no longer produce insulin thus creating hyperglycemic (glucose levels over 115) levels and type II diabetes. The foods with a lower glycemic index will help maintain blood sugar levels and will help prevent type II diabetes. Consuming low glycemic foods will also lead to weight loss and a lower body fat percentage. Avoid the foods with a high glycemic index for they will encourage the production/storage of fat and eventually lead to type II diabetes.

       High (>85)                         Medium (60-85)                            Low (<60)

       Honey                                 Banana                                           Apple

       Candy                                 Grapes                                           Applesauce

       Soda                                   Oatmeal                                         Cherries

       White Bread                        Brown Rice                                    Kidney beans

       Sports drinks                      Whole grain (rye)                            Chick-peas

       Bagel                                   Baked Beans                                 Lentils

       Corn Syrup                                                                                 Figs

       Sucrose                                                                                      Peaches

       Glucose                                                                                      Plums

       Maple Syrup                                                                               Yogurt


Obviously this is just a small list just to give you an idea of the different glycemic indexes of foods. In a separate post I will create a more thorough spreadsheet listing more common foods. Not one person will ever have the same carbohydrate needs; based on your total daily expenditure, sex, activity, and environmental conditions the recommended range of carbohydrate consumption is anywhere from 6 to 10 grams per kilogram of body weight.


Getting started on your journey to a healthier lifestyle can be a daunting task if tackled alone. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in setting up a nutrition plan tailored specifically for you. If you take nothing from this blog post, I want you to know type II diabetes is preventable with proactive wellness and can be managed without pills by making simple, corrective lifestyle changes to our daily nutrition plan as well as exercising only 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. I know wellness can be challenging at times and no one is expecting you to be perfect, but with my help, inspiration, motivation, and guidance you can lead a longer, healthier life. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, your physical and mental wellbeing depend on it! 

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