There are many misconceptions and ideas about carbohydrates with many people opting for an Atkins type diet. But in actual fact, carbohydrates are an essential source of energy and if you eat the correct carbs and in moderation you can still lose weight and enjoy a filling and nutritious meal.
Carbohydrates are a major macronutrient and one of your body’s primary sources of energy. They are made up of fibre, starch and sugar. Carbohydrates are split into 2 categories…simple (fast acting) or complex (slower release).
Simple carbohydrates can be broken down quickly by the body and are rapidly digested. They are found in sugar, white bread, white pasta, honey, soft drinks, maple and jam. They can also be found in natural foods such as fruit and milk (fructose and lactose) and can raise blood sugar levels quickly. As sugar provides no nutritional value other than to provide energy, it should be kept to a minimum, especially for anyone looking to lose weight!
Complex Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose a great deal slower and pack in more nutrients, they are higher in fiber and have a lower GI rating. As a result, they do not cause such a spike in your blood sugar levels, and therefore are ideal for people with type 2 diabetes. Complex carbs include foods such as pure porridge oats, vegetables, brown rice and quinoa. As these take longer to digest and will keep you fuels and fuller for longer.
So, are all carbs the same? We have covered the differences between simple and complex and below is a list of foods and their GI (Glycaemic index rating) which will help you to make the right choses when choosing your carbs. It’s always best to opt for lower GI foods.
Low G.I Foods – Foods with a rating of under 55
Cherries – 22
Grapefruit – 25
Apples and pears – 38
Peas – 48
Sweet corn, raw oat bran and bananas – 55
Medium G.I Foods – (56-69)
Muesli and boiled potatoes – 56
Basmati rice and honey – 58
pineapple – 66
shredded wheat – 67
whole meal bread and Weetabix – 69
High G.I Foods – 70 or more
water melon – 72
Bagel – 72
French fries – 75
corn flakes – 84
white rice – 98
This is a list of carbohydrates based on their overall effect on blood glucose levels, and foods are looked at individually and not as part of a meal, foods that have a higher G.I rating can actually be lowered when eaten with protein.
As a general rule we would suggest a higher carb day when you are training and very active, then opt for a lower carb diet on the days when you are more sedentary, but remember on your low carb days it is essential to increase your “good” fats. These will provide energy and help to maintain your metabolism and can be found in food sources such as nuts, avocados and oily fish.
So, to answer that question are all carbs the same? The answer is no. When it comes to weight loss they are definitely very different. If you are eating carbs with your diet, make sure you are making the right choices as spikes in your insulin will result in fat storage, especially around your stomach.
Bottom line- there is a place for all carbohydrates as long as it fits in with your daily calorie requirement and try to moderate the sugary simple carbohydrates for a more effective weight loss plan.