The Institute of Medicine advises that 45 to 65 percent of the calories you take in each day come from carbohydrate sources. Carbohydrates give you energy and help with weight control. They also benefit your heart and promote a healthy digestive system. Whole-grain carbohydrates are especially nutritious because they provide dietary fiber, which can help to keep your cholesterol in check.
Carbohydrates are your body's main source of fuel. When you take in food, your body breaks down its sugars and starches and absorbs them into your bloodstream. At this point, they become glucose, or blood sugar. Your body needs glucose to have the energy to do everything from breathing to weight training. In addition, your brain needs glucose to function properly. If you don't take in enough carbohydrates, you can become weak, lethargic and unable to focus on even simple tasks.
Carbs are often blamed for weight gain, but the truth is that they are crucial for healthy weight control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories that you consume each day. The only sources of fiber are in carbohydrates, so it's nearly impossible to get enough dietary fiber on a low-carb diet. Fiber-rich foods add bulk to your diet, making you feel full more quickly and satisfying your appetite for longer. High-fiber foods are generally low in calories as well, so getting enough fiber can help you lose weight.
Dietary fiber prevents cholesterol from accumulating in your arteries and creating dangerous blockages that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Eating whole-grain foods, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, whole wheat, oats, bran and quinoa, gives you valuable fiber that can protect your heart and keep you feeling your best. Avoid simple carbohydrates, such as cakes, cookies, products made with white flour and processed foods, which are generally low in fiber and often high in fat and added sugar.
Getting enough fiber-rich carbohydrates can help prevent digestive problems, such as constipation and indigestion. Insoluble fiber, the type of fiber that doesn't break down during digestion, is also known as roughage. It pushes other food along your digestive tract, speeding up the digestive process. It also adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass bowel movements. Without a sufficient intake of carbohydrates, you may not get enough fiber to keep your digestive system regular.