Carbohydrates for breakfast
Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy from food and are made up of fibre and sugar. Even though low carb diets are espoused as a weight loss ideal, most nutrition experts agree that sustained whole grain carbohydrates provide a great source of long-lasting energy.
Most carbohydrates are foods such as rice, pasta, bread, and cereal. Ideally, carbohydrates should consist of 40% of your daily kilojoule intake, with another 30% coming from proteins like meat, fish or dairy.
Types of carbohydrate include:
- Starch (such as that found in grains and root vegetables)
- Sugars (including added sugars and naturally occurring food sugars such as lactose in milk and fructose in fruit and honey)
- Most types of fibre
Sugars and starch are broken down in digestion to single carbohydrate units (including glucose, galactose and fructose) for absorption and then as energy by the body. Fibre is similar in chemical structure but differs in that it mostly passes through the bowel, although we now know that some fibre is also converted to energy in the body.
Why do we need to eat carbohydrate?
Glucose is the fuel of choice for active muscles. It is also essential for brain function. Although fat and protein can be sources of fuel for the body, carbohydrate is a more efficient source of energy.
How many carbs do I need?
To help ensure adequate carbohydrate in the diet, try to include 2 serves of carbohydrate foods from a variety of sources at each meal. One serve of carbs can be:
- 2 slices of bread
- 1 cup of breakfast cereal flakes
- 1 cup of cooked rice
- 1 medium piece of fruit
- 1 tub of low fat yoghurt or a
- 250ml glass of low fat milk.
Which foods contain carbohydrate?
The main sources of carbohydrate in the Australian and New Zealand diet are:
- breakfast cereals and grain based foods
- juices and soft drinks
- starchy vegetables and legumes
- milk products
Read more about kid's fibre and nutritional needs:
- All about breakfast
- Carbohydrates for breakfast
- 6 facts about fibre
- Foods high in fibre
- How much fibre does my child need?
- Why fibre is fabulous
- Kids' nutritional needs
Ready Set Learn
This article was supplied by the team of Nutritionists at Kellogg's for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading education resource for parents.