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Carbohydrate are one of the main fuel sources your body uses for energy. In the weight loss and diet world there has been much debate over carbohydrates and their role in weight loss. Some diets will tell you to completely avoid carbs and some will instruct you to eat healthy carbs.
When you think of carbohydrates you will usually come to think of breads and pastas but the truth is carbs are found in many other foods. Other than breads, pasta and rice here are a few examples of foods that contain carbohydrates: candy/dessert, juice and soda, milk/dairy, fruits and veggies, nuts/seeds, rice/pastas, breads and cereals.
The good type of carbohydrate are also called complex carbohydrates. When we ingest these carbs our bodies have to work hard to break down and digest, releasing energy slower and over a longer period of time. These are whole grain types of foods. Like whole grain bread or whole grain pasta.
Whole grain breads, whole grain cereals, green veggies, fruit
Why are they good?
- high in fiber and nutrients
- low glycemic index
- feel fuller with fewer calories
- naturally stimulates the metabolism
The bad type of carbohydrate is often referred to as simple carbs. These are smaller molecules of sugar and are digested very quickly by our body. As they are digested they are often stored as glycogen. If they are not immediately used they then get converted to fat. Most simple carbs are found in processed foods and commerical foods.
Candy/desserts, sugared cereals, sodas, sugary drinks, refined breads
Why are they good?
- low in fiber and nutrients
- high glycemic index
- empty calories get converted to fat
- make you feel tired
Carbs and The Glycemic Index (GI)
Long story short, carbs are a form of sugar that our body converts to glucose (blood sugar) and then it is stored for energy. The GI is a way to measure how much a particular food can raise your blood sugar after eating it.
Foods that are high on the GI are bad. High GI foods are quickly digested and absorbed. This causes a quick high and fall in blood sugar. This fluctuation is often called a "sugar crash" leaving you feeling tired and hungry.
Foods that are on the low end of the GI are digested and absorbed at a slower rate so there is a gradual rise and gradual fall in blood sugar levels. These types of carbs are beneficial for weight loss because the can help control your appetite and delay hunger.
Glycemic Index Classification
70 and up
Rapid increase in blood sugar
Moderate increase in blood sugar
55 and below
Slow increase in blood sugar
If you are trying to eat healthier you should choose to eat foods that are lower on the GI scale. below are some of the common food categories of carbs along with their GI scale rating.
White Rice (58)
Coca Cola (63)
White Bread (71)
Brown rice (55)
Orange Juice (52)
Mini Wheats (57)
White Pita Bread (57)
White spaghetti (41)
Apple juice (41)
Wheat Bread (50)
Wheat spaghetti (37)
fat free milk (32)
Soy milk (30)
Whole milk (27)
Baked potato (85)
Jelly beans (81)
Sweet potato (54)
Oatmeal cookies (54)
Snickers candy (40)
Your goal should be to avoid foods that are ranked high on the GI scale, moderately eat foods that are in the middle and foods that are low on the index are the types of carbs that are ideal to consume.