Any person who is trying to change their life by dieting knows that one of the first steps is to “cut down on carbs”, but what are “carbs”? Carbohydrates are sugars that turn into fats, making us fatter, right?
Well, there’s more to carbs than just that. You may have heard the term “complex carbohydrates” and “simple carbohydrates”, so you know that there’s more than one type, and each has a different composition with different effects on the body.
There are even carbs that contain nutritional fibers, which help you lose weight. Despite their bad reputation, if you just get to know what each carb does and which foods contain each type, you’ll be able to keep your figure without giving up on carbs.
|Click on the image for a larger version|
Avoid – Simple Carbohydrates
All carbohydrates are sugars, but simple carbohydrates are made of simple sugars. The problem with simple sugar is how quickly we process it: after eating it, we’ll feel sated for merely 20 minutes, after which we’re left with high insulin levels in our blood, making us want more sugar. If you want to avoid these types of simple carbs, simply look at the ingredients list of the food you buy.
Unless the sugar is obviously on the surface of your food, it’s hard to tell if it was added or not. If you can’t find it in the product’s name, look for it in the ingredients. You may notice terms like sucrose, fructose (fruit sugars), or lactose (dairy sugars). As a rule, if it ends with an “ose” – it’s a simple carbohydrate, and you should avoid it.
Be Cautious – Starchy Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are called that because they’re comprised of several simple carbohydrates. On the surface, you may think that’s even worse, but they’re actually better at long-term energy and feeling full because they release the energy over a prolonged period.
Foods that contain complex carbohydrates:
The grain group can be split into processed and whole:
When you hear about “Whole Grains”, it usually means unprocessed grains that contain all three layers. By eating only processed grains you miss out on the health benefits of the bran and germ.
Recommended – Fiber-Rich Complex Carbohydrates
Dietary fibers come exclusively from plants, so you can’t get them from dairy, eggs, meat, fish, etc. Fibers are the part of the plant our bodies cannot digest and are quite common in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain, and legumes.
It is recommended that adults consume 25-30 grams of fiber per day, yet most of us only get half of that. Fibers help in the digestion process, expelling toxins from the body, and also in providing a prolonged feeling of satiety.
You can find fiber-rich carbs in:
In general, a good source of fiber will contain 2.5-4.9gr of fiber per serving, and the best sources will contain 5rg or more. It is important to hydrate often when consuming fiber-rich foods, as they absorb liquids and may lead to dehydration.
Glycemic Index – Is it Relevant?
The glycemic index is a system that ranks carbs according to their effect on blood sugar levels. The higher the glycemic value, the faster it affects the glucose levels in your blood, and it is recommended to avoid high-glycemic foods. Complex fiber-containing carbs, as well as whole grains, have the lowest glycemic levels (on average), making them the most recommended kind to consume. If you want to learn more about the glycemic index, CLICK HERE.