Carbohydrate is the name of a macronutrient, which is considered as one of the major sources to obtain energy. Chemically it is a combination of three atoms. These are likely Carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Describing and learning about the complex chemical bonding of carbohydrate is not our obejective. Rather we need to understand and figure out the suitable type of carbohydrates, which are required for a fit body and sound health.
Carbohydrates perform various roles on living organism. It is considered as a major source of energy in living organism. Hence, it is not an essential source of energy in human body as we can gather a good amount of energy from proteins and fats too. But the potential amount of energy is being produced from carbohydrates.
Our body tends to transform the consumed carbohydrate into glucose. This glucose is a source of energy for our tissues, cells and organs.
Most of the food like bread, rice, fruits, vegetables, milk etc contains carbohydrate as a major nutrient element. Carbohydrates are basically classified in two categories. These are -
- Simple carbohydrate
- Complex carbohydrate
This classification is done mainly based on the chemical bonding. Simple carbohydrate refers to those which contain normally short chain of glucose. Fructose and galactose belongs to the simple category.
On the other hand complex carbohydrate refers to those which are spiraled and more branched in chemical bonding. Many kind of glucose belongs to the complex category.
However, depending on the digestion time of numerous carbohydrates it is normally classified in two categories. These are –
- Slow carbohydrate or slow carb
- Fast carbohydrate or fast carb
Here I have written briefly about the above mentioned category in below.
Slow carbohydrates are usually belonging to the unprocessed and complex type of carbohydrate. Slow carb takes longer period of time to break into energies, because of their chemical structure. Therefore, they are also known as slow digesting carbohydrate as well. This carbohydrate breaks slowly and creates energy for the cells at a regular speed.
Slow carbs also play a vital role in keeping the blood sugar steady and stable. If you ought to stay in the fat burning zone while you are trying to flatten belly, then stable blood sugar is necessarily required to maintain throughout the day.
Most of the plant foods fall into the slow carb category. The slow carbs are full with nutrients and fiber. Most o the people become afraid of increasing blood sugar eating slow carbs. You can be assured that slow carbs will not increase your blood sugar. One of the positive sides of slow carbs food is, you don’t need to skip any meal. As a result, you can easily stick to the belly flattening process.
Besides flattening belly, slow carbs helps for mental well being, increased energy etc.
There are some misconception regarding slow carb. Many people consider slow carb food as risky diet. But scientifically it is proved that slow carb food reduces heart diseases. You may ask, what is the long-term effect of slow carb? Of course, it has short-term effect for reducing belly fat but in the long, you will not face any negative side effect.
However, the slow carb diet is not artificial diet. It is the basic diet of human being. As the time evolved this diet has been replaced with fat enriched food. So slow carb diet should be always in your meal to keep you in shape.
Here is a list of slow carbs. You may find your favorite one from the list.
A List of Slow Carbs
Spinach, Asparagus, Lettuce, Okra, Radishes, Celery, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Onions, Eggplant, Cucumbers, Water Cress, Turnip Greens, Artichokes, Cauliflower, Potatoes, Beans and Lentils (Soybeans, Kidney Beans, Split Peas, Pinto Beans, Garbanzo Beans) Cucumber, Yams, Radish, Carrots
Strawberries, Apples, Peaches, Grapefruit, Oranges, Prunes, Pear, Dried Apricots, Plums, Pears
Barley, Wild Rice, Whole Grains and their bran (Barley, Buckwheat, Oatmeal, Oat Bran), Muesli, Brown Rice, Wheat Germ, Millet, Cornmeal etc.
Nuts and seeds
Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Walnuts, Peanuts, Cashews, Sesame Seeds, Flaxseed
Skim Milk ,Low Fat Yogurt
Fast carbohydrate refers to those which are faster in energy producing. Basically these carbohydrates belong to the processed simple carbohydrate. As a result of their simple chemical structure, they tend to break into glucose or blood sugar after few minutes of absorption.
So, for digesting the excessive glucose it paves the way to trigger the insulin erection. Though the major role of insulin is digesting the glucose and then transforming the energy to the cells. But as a result of excessive absorption of fast carbohydrates insulin tends to store the extra calories as fat. Therefore, fast carbohydrates are extremely dangerous for the person having type-2 diabetics. In addition it is considered as obstacles on the way to flatten your stomach.
Here is a list of fast carbs given below. You may learn about these and decide what to skip from tomorrow.
A List of Fast Carbs
Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Green Peas and Carrots
Blackberries, Banana, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Cranberries, Cherry, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Lemon, Lychee, Pineapple, Plums, Melon, Watermelon Raspberries
White Boiled Rice, Breakfast cereals, Instant rice, Millet
Jelly Beans, Soda crackers, Chocolate, , Corn chips, Cakes, White bread, White Pasta, Candy Bars, Cookies, Honey, Jam
Ice Cream, Rice Milk, Yogurt with Fruit
Mixing fast and slow carb to burn fat
Fast carbohydrates are those, which are absorbed very quickly. It raises the blood sugar level that leads to hungry. On the other side, slow carbohydrate helps more increased blood sugar, which balance the level of meal.
Mixing slow carbohydrate with high carbohydrate foods reduces the tendency of raising blood sugar. It is beneficial for reducing weight.
Fast carbohydrate includes dairy beans, whole grain, vegetables, whole grain are potentially healthy as it offers more nutrition. Including the healthy fast carbohydrate to your meal allows eating protein that ultimately helps to balance or sometimes reduce the weight.
Some of you may be concern that mixing the slow and high carbohydrate with protein can possibly trigger unhealthy meal plan but don’t worry it will balance the calorie you need to consume everyday.
Are Too Much Carbs Bad for You?
Carbohydrates sources such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, etc. have a major role to play in our diet. Even though weight loss industry defames carbs, they are not an evil food group. Carbs are sources of energy and important nutrients. Nonetheless, overconsumption of carbs can have negative effects on your health.
Increase in Calorie Intake
High carbohydrate diet is associated with increase in calorie intake. In case of Americans, calorie intake is higher than it used to be in 1970, as pointed out in ‘Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report’ published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2004. In the period between 1971 and 2000, daily calorie intake went up by 7 percent and 22 percent among men and women respectively. During the same period, the percentage of calories from fat went down and it is mainly carbohydrates that enhanced caloric consumption. Extra calories result in belly fat or weight gain, which is associated with various health issues.
Effects on Blood Sugar
Carbs get broken down in sugar or glucose for energy. That’s why, carbs affect blood sugar more than protein or fat. Risks for developing type 2 diabetes go up due to being overweight and sedentary. Type 2 diabetes is an endocrine disease involving blood sugar regulation. If you are already diabetic or pre-diabetic, it is essential to watch your carb intake and balance it with other foods.
You may link fatty foods with gastrointestinal issues, but carbs are the main cause to blame when it comes to gas, as pointed out by the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Starchy foods like potatoes, pasta and corn cause gas to develop when they get broken down in the large intestine. Soluble fiber sources such as fruits and beans also cause gas to form during the digestive process. Gaseous buildup causes abdominal discomfort, bloating, belching and flatulence.
Risk of Cognitive Impairment
Your brain is closely linked with your diet. Unlike diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, changes in cognitive abilities as people get older are usually not attributed directly to food choices. Your diet can actually have harsh effects on your future brain health like increasing your risk of cognitive impairment, as highlighted by a growing body of research.
Among people aged seventy to eighty nine, diet plays a major role in raising risk of mild cognitive impairment, including issues with language, memory, thinking and judgement. Carbs have been spotted to be the biggest culprit, while fats and protein were protective, as pointed out in studies.
People with the highest carbohydrate intake were almost twice as likely to grow mild cognitive impairment than people with the lowest carbohydrate intake. People with the highest sugar intake were about 1.5 times more likely to develop mild cognitive impairment than people with the lowest sugar intake. People with the highest fat intake were 42 percent less likely to grow cognitive impairment. People with the protein intake lowered their risk by 21 percent. When compared with total protein and fat intake, people with the highest carb intake were 3.6 times more likely to grow mild cognitive impairment. The reason behind this is that a diet that is focused on unhealthy carbs and sugar severely hampers insulin doing its job.
Interference in insulin signaling is harmful to your brain. Problem in insulin signaling is a reason behind insulin resistance, which usually causes type 2 diabetes. While insulin plays a role in keeping your blood sugar level in a healthy range, it also contributes to brain health. Disruption in proper signaling of insulin in the brain, leads to dementia, as found out by researchers.
Your body becomes incapable of hearing the proper signals from insulin and leptin due to overconsumption of grains and sugars, causing insulin resistance in both your body and brain. Degeneration of brain cells may happen due to reduction in insulin production in your brain and glucose deprivation for cells. Some are with the idea that reduction in level of insulin can even impair cognition immediately.
According to researchers, it is not just pancreas but also your brain that produce insulin. The brain insulin is important for the survival of your brain cells. Therefore, it is unsurprising that studies find association between mild cognitive impairment and diets high in sugar and carbs.
It is not a good idea to severely restrict carb intake as many carb sources like fruits, veggies and whole grains are in need for good nutritional values. 45 to 65 percent of daily calories come from carbohydrates, as recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. High-protein and low-carb diets are not effective anymore in weight control and reducing risk of other health issues, as found out by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Moderation in consumption is what is important. A healthy diet is not too high or too low in carbs. Rather the one is well balanced with carbs, fat and protein sources.
What Carbs should You Stay Away?
A diet that is not high in carb can help you lose weight and control health conditions including diabetes. Even though consumption of some high-carb foods are to be avoided or limited, it is challenging to figure out which staple foods to limit. Some carbs are actually relatively healthy, but they are not suitable on a low-carb diet due to their high amount of carbs content. Individual carb need or target also determines which or how much high-carb food, should be limited or avoided. Depending personal tolerance, low-carb diets usually contain 20-100 grams of carbs per day. Below are some foods that need to be limited or avoided while you are on low-carb diet.
Below are 14 foods to avoid or limit on a low-carb diet.
Bread and Grains
In many cultures, bread and grains are staple food. They come in different forms including loaves, bagels, rolls and flatbreads such as tortillas. Unfortunately, they are too high in carbs, particularly when they are made from refined flour. Carb counts can vary depending on portion sizes and ingredients. Carb counts for popular breads are as follows:
One slice of white bread contains 14 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber. One slice of whole-wheat bread contains 17 grams of carbs, two of which are fiber. 4 pieces of 10-inch tortillas contain 36 grams of carbs, two of which are fiber. If you do not limit or avoid your bread consumption, you can easily over-consume. Most grains including rice, oat, wheat, etc. are high in carbs and need to be avoided or limited if you are on low-carb diet.
Even though high intake of fruits and vegetables have been linked to reduction of risk of heart disease and cancer, some fruits are high in carbs and may not be good for low-carb diets. When you are on very low-carb diet, it may be a good idea to avoid some fruits, particularly dried fruits and sweet fruits, which have high carb counts. Some fruits with high carb counts are as follows:
One medium size banana has 27 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber. One ounce of raisins contain 22 grams of carbs, four of which are fiber. 2 large dates contain 36 grams of carbs, four of which are fiber. One cup of sliced mango contains 28 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber. One medium size pear contains 28 grams of carbs, six of which are fiber. Depending on individual carb tolerance, consumption of many high-carb fruits should be limited on a low-carb diet.
Vegetables are usually considered to be healthy food. They are high in fiber, which helps deal with weight maintenance and blood sugar level. Nonetheless, some high-starch vegetables contain more digestible carbs than fiber. If you are on a very low-carb diet, it is good to avoid or limit consumption of some starchy vegetables that are as follows with their carb counts.
One cup of corn contains 41 grams of carbs, five of which are fiber. One medium size potato contains 37 grams of carbs, four of which are fiber. One medium size sweet potato contains 24 grams of carbs, four of which are fiber. One cup of cooked beets contains 16 grams of carbs, four of which are fiber. While it is useful to limit or avoid starchy vegetables, it is good to choose non-starchy and high-fiber vegetables.
Pasta is high in carbs. 1 cup of cooked pasta provides 43 grams of carbs, three of which are fiber. Whole-wheat pasta can be a slightly better option, which provides 37 grams of carbs, six of which are fiber. While you are on a low-carb diet, pasta of different types or spaghetti is not a good idea unless you eat a very small portion. A good alternative can be shirataki noodles or spiralizer vegetables.
Cereals contain surprisingly high amount of carbs. For example, 1 cup of instant or cooked regular oatmeal contains 32 grams of carbs, only four of which are fiber. A ½ cup of cooked steel-cut oats contains 29 grams of carbs, five of which are fiber. A ½ cup of granola cereal contains 37 grams of carbs, seven of which are fiber. A ½ cup of Grape Nuts cereal contains 46 grams of carbs, five of which are fiber. It’s good to avoid or limit cereal consumption while you are on a low-carb diet.
Beer is high in carbs. A twelve-ounce beer can contains 13 grams of carbs. Light beer has 6 grams of carbs per can. What’s worse is that carbs consumption from liquid tends to enhance weight gain more than carbs consumption from solid food. It’s a good idea to avoid beer when you are on low-carb diet.
Even though plain yogurt is low in carb, people usually tend to eat sweetened yogurt. Sweetened yogurt is about as high in carbs as in ice cream and other desserts. A cup of sweetened fruit yogurt contains up to 47 grams of carbs. It’s a good idea to choose plain Greek yogurt topped with a ½ cup of raspberries or blackberries.
Even though fruit juice contains some nutrients, it is very high in carbs that digest and cause your blood sugar level to rise rapidly. Twelve ounces of unsweetened apple juice provide 48 grams of carbs. The amount is higher than that of soda, which has 39 grams. Twelve ounces of unsweetened grape juice contain 60 grams of carbs. Fruit juice can also result in enhanced hunger and food intake later in the day. It’s good to avoid or limit high-carb beverage like fruit juice, especially when you are on a low-carb diet.
Fat-Free and Low-Fat Salad Dressings
Commercial salad dressings can provide more carbs than you expect, particularly fat-free and low-fat varieties. For instance, 2 tablespoons of fat-free French dressing contain ten grams of carbs. An equal amount of fat-free ranch dressing contains 11 grams of carbs. People usually use more than 2 tablespoons, especially on a large entree salad. In order to reduce carb consumption, it’s useful to dress salad with a creamy, full-fat dressing. Using vinegar or olive oil is even better, which has positive effects on heart and weight maintenance.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are nutritious and have numerous health benefits, including reduced inflammation and heart disease risk. They also contain fair amount of carbs. Consuming small amount may be all right depending on your personal tolerance, while you are on a low-carb diet. Below are carb counts for 1 cup (160-200 grams) of cooked beans and legumes.
Lentils contain forty grams of carbs, sixteen of which are fiber. Peas contain twenty-five grams of carbs, nine of which are fiber. Black beans contain forty-one grams of carbs, fifteen of which are fiber. Pinto beans contain forty-five grams of carbs, fifteen of which are fiber. Chickpeas contain forty-five grams of carbs, twelve of which are fiber. Kidney beans contain forty grams of carbs, thirteen of which are fiber.
Sugar in Any Form or Honey
Sugar in any form is high in carbs and low in nutrients. Below are the carb counts for 1 tablespoon of different types of sugar.
White sugar contains 12.6 grams of carbs. Maple syrup contains 13 grams of carbs. Agave nectar contains 16 grams of carbs. Honey contains 17 grams of carbs. It is good to avoid or limit consumption of any form of sugar while you are on low-carb diet. Honey is high both in carbs and health benefits, which makes it little complex to deal with. When it comes to making choice over honey, it is worth getting advice from a nutritionist.
Chips and Crackers
Chips and crackers are grain-based and processed snack foods. Their carbs can add up quickly as they are usually consumed in large amount within a short period of time. 28 grams of tortilla chips contains 18 grams of carbs, one of which is fiber. One ounce of whole-wheat crackers contains about 19 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber. When you are on a low-carb diet, it is best to avoid them.
Milk is very nutritious. Nonetheless, it is also fairly high in carbs. 8 ounces of whole milk contains about 13 grams of carbs. Drinking milk in large quantity is not a good idea while you are on a low-carb diet.
Gluten-Free Baked Foods
As gluten may be associated with some diseases and symptoms, gluten-free diets have become popular in recent years. However, gluten-free muffins, breads and other baked goods are usually not low in carbs. Gluten-free baked foods are typically made with carbs sources that cause blood sugar level to rise rapidly. It is a good idea to avoid or limit gluten-free baked foods and make your own low-carb baked foods, using coconut or almond flour. Sticking to whole foods is another good option.
Being aware of the types and amount of carbs to avoid or limit, is useful in avoiding high-carb consumption, which in turn, reduces risk of numerous diseases. How low you should stay in carb consumption will depend to some extent on your personal carb tolerance. Choosing foods that are low in carbs, yet very nutritious, is typically a healthy choice.
How do I start a Low Carb Diet?
Weight loss goal is one of the reasons that motivates people to choose low-carb diet. Low-carb diet actually seems to be a magic solution for weight loss, in some cases. Low-carb diet when lasts for no less than six months, is more effective than low-fat diet in losing weight, as found out in a 2016 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. There was also downside of being on low-carb diet. Low-carb followers had their bad cholesterol level increased, possibly because of increased fat intake.
Being on low-carb diet does not mean to be too strict on carb consumption. While you are on low-carb diet, about 40% of calories can still come from carbs or you can consume no less than 120 grams of carbs per day. This amount helps consume a balanced diet with necessary nutrients. In case you are on low-carb diet to manage your diabetes, it is best for you to consult a doctor or a registered dietitian.
First step in going Low-Carb
It is useful to know food sources that are both high and low in carbs. Grains such as rice and bread are top sources of carbs. So are starchy veggies and legumes such as potatoes, corn and beans. Milk and fruits are also big sources. Protein sources like eggs, beef, seafood, fish and chicken do not contain carbs. Fat sources like oil and butter do not contain carbs. Non-starchy veggies like broccoli, leafy greens and bell peppers contain some carbohydrates, but they are not big sources.
It is good to lower consumption of unhealthy carbs such as refined carbs and added sugar. You can avoid soda, cookies, candies, and sugary cereals. It is good to keep whole grains, fruits, veggies and dairy like plain yogurt and milk in your diet. It is also good to include healthy fats in your diet. Healthy fats can help feel full and replace or reduce some carb consumption. Healthy fat sources include avocado, seeds, nuts, olive oil, fish, etc.
Forming a Low-Carb Diet
A low-carb diet can include four components including protein, healthy fat, a non-starchy vegetable or a fruit and a starchy vegetable or a whole grain. While limiting carbs, it is useful to replace a whole cup of rice with a half-cup of rice or a big sweet potato for a small one.
In order to count carbs, it is useful to know which types of foods contain how many grams of carbs per serving. A general guideline is as follows. Starch (starchy veggies, beans, grains) and fruits have around fifteen grams of carbs per serving. Milk contains twelve grams of carbs per serving. Non-starchy veggies (kale, broccoli, etc.) contain around five grams of carbs per serving. Oils, fats and meat have zero gram of carb. It may feel annoying to count carbs, but with practice, you will not have to count anymore at some point. Without counting, you will have an idea of how many carbs you are having in a meal.
Excessively Low-Carb Diet
Even though a low-carb diet is good for weight loss, it is important not to go too low. While being on low-carb diet, it is still important to consume carbs from healthy sources such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Below are some ways that are helpful for staying on low-carb diet while avoiding common mistakes.
Timing Carbohydrates Wisely
One of the reasons why people have low-carb diet is to keep blood sugar levels stabilized. Consuming carbs does not cause blood sugar levels to rise dramatically at a time that is immediately after, during or before exercise. If you are on a low-carb diet, it is good to consume carbs for exercise sessions that last longer than 2 hours, involve weight training, or are intense.
Avoid Processed Carb
It is a healthy choice to avoid processed foods even if they are low carbohydrate processed foods. Low carbohydrate processed foods can still have unhealthy ingredients. Foods that get advertised on TV, newspapers or magazines, are usually processed food and should be avoided.
Dealing with Discomfort
Going low carb can make you uncomfortable during the first two weeks. Your energy levels can go down. You may get grumpy. You may feel lethargic. Your body may not cooperate the way you would want it to. You experience such discomforts while being on low-carb because your body burns fatty acids as fuel.
It is necessary to get mentally prepared for such discomforts when you go low carb. If such discomforts do not subside, it’s good to check for nutritional deficiency. If you are an active person physically, you should incorporate carb re-feed days.
Get your Fiber
When go low carb, reduction in veggies, fruits, and grain consumption can reduce your fiber intake significantly. It can result in inadequate antioxidant, phytonutrient, vitamin C and potassium intake. It is not that you cannot eat good amount of non-starchy veggies and dark leafy greens while you are on low-carb diet. You can consume them being mindful of your total daily carb intake recommended by an expert and timing of consumption of starchy veggies.
Drinking adequate water can help curb the carb cravings while you are on low-carb. Water is also in demand for beta-oxidation, which is about how fat gets burnt as fuel in the body. It is a good idea to stay hydrated when you go low-carb.
Normal level of blood sugar is important for human body and the brain in particular. Things can get out of order when blood sugar level gets outside the normal range. A sugar crash or carb crash is about blood glucose level going below normal level. People with or without diabetes can experience a carb crash. When carb crash occurs, it is important to bring blood sugar level back to normal range as rapidly as possible.
Eating a meal that is too high in carbs can make you feel more tired than before you ate the meal. Such post-carb tiredness or letdown is a real phenomenon, while it is possible to minimize or avoid the effect.
How Carbs Work?
Carbohydrates are a type of nutrients, which include fiber, sugar and starches. In the body, an enzyme named amylase breaks down carbs, transforming them into glucose to be either used for power or stored as fat when there is excess or unused energy.
Consuming high amount of carbs, especially empty carbs like soda and sweets at once can provide you a short-term rush of energy. In order to help regulate blood-sugar levels, your body releases insulin. As a result, carbs get swiftly moved into your liver, muscles and other organs, causing you to feel lethargic and tired. Such sudden drop in blood sugar is known as hypoglycemia.
To prevent the short-term energy burst and subsequent drop, it is useful to avoid or reduce consumption of beverages and foods with simple sugars. It is good to try complex carbs, digestion of which takes longer. Complex carbs stay in your system longer and generate more sustained energy. Complex carb foods include whole-grain pasta, legumes, nuts, oats, dairy, wild or brown rice, fruits, most vegetables, etc. As complex carbs take longer to get absorbed by the body, it triggers a slower insulin release, causing less or no felling of tiredness later.
Having protein alongside carbs in a meal is useful in avoiding sugar crash. Protein can make you feel fuller for longer and it takes longer to digest protein. It helps avoid rapid spike in insulin level as well as the accompanying drop in blood sugar.
Last update: December 02, 2017 06:11:11 pm