Your Carbohydrate Requirement

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Carbohydrate should be a large part of your diet than any other food. Probably about 55 percent of our daily calorie should come from carbohydrates, 30-35 percent from fat, and 10-15 percent from protein foods. Because our bodies convert protein and fat to glucose for energy, there is no specific dietary requirement for carbohydrate. However, many nutrition experts agree than a reasonable proportion of total daily calories should come from this nutrient to prevent the ketosis, loss of sodium, and dehydration that accompany a severe lack of carbohydrates.

An ideal diet is neither too low nor too high in carbohydrates. Too high a level may not supply enough high-quality protein for proper growth and body maintenance. A low carbohydrate diet, on the other hand, is automatically high in fat, usually the saturated fat found in animal foods. Fat is higher in calories and obesity results from eating more calories each day than we burn up. Populations in countries where most people eat high-carbohydrate diets show a lower proportion of overweight and other health problems related to overweight.

Good carbohydrates

To increase your carbohydrate intake and to assure yourself many other valuable nutrients as well, choose fruits, low-fat milk products, and complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, cereals, grains and legumes. Avoid sweets, which are devoid of the nutrients present in other carbohydrate foods. Sugars, syrups, candy and the like contribute almost nothing but sweet flavor and calories to the diet.

Sweets and alcohol

Because they supply little else besides energy, concentrated sweets are often known as "empty calories." The same designation might be given to alcohol, which is even higher in calories than sugar: 7 calories for each gram, as compared to 4 calories for each gram of sugar (or any other carbohydrate).

For people who normally eat nutritionally well-balanced diet, alcoholic beverages, in moderation, pose no health problems, as long as their caloric content is kept in mind. Several studies have shown that small amounts of alcohol can be beneficial. However, overconsumption can damage the liver and may be associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

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