There has always been a negative annotation towards carbs, linking it to unhealthy blood sugar levels, causing diabetes, obesity and such. While the common conception may be true, carbs are still very important to your body. It is to sustain our metabolism and energy levels worked by the cells in your body to synthesise ATP which is the energy produced. So how do we know if the carbs we eat cause more harm than good?
This article will explain the different kinds of carbs, generally the bad and the good, and explain consumption guidelines.
Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs
Good carbs are unprocessed carbs like, bananas, brown rice, dates, potatoes and etc. All these foods have their nutrients intact and have been minimally altered to maximise nutritional value of the food.
Bad carbs on the other hand, are processed carbs that have been stripped off its nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fatty acid) and some food examples are, white rice, white flour and sugary drinks.
Healthy carbs impact insulin levels in the body much differently than processed carbs do. Carbs are basically a general term for the different types of sugars and insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels in our body. The more sugar is introduced into the bloodstream the more insulin is produced to bring the sugar levels down. Excessive stress on insulin production can lead to type 2 diabetes.
You are probably confused, on one hand we are saying a good amount of carbs is important but at the same time, it will result in great insulin production, which can be bad over time. The key is to have sugars in your system constantly at low levels, just enough to power the cells at a long run. How do we do that?
Firstly, you need to familiarise with the term GI, stands for Glycemic index, which is associated to food. They are presented on a spectrum of low GI and high GI. What it tells you, is how fast a food is converted to sugar once you eat it. Low GI foods convert to sugar at a slow rate, while high GI food at a fast rate.
- High GI = 70 to 100
- Medium GI = 50 to 70
- Low GI = below 50
A good example for comparison is:
- Brown rice = 20 GI
- White rice = 35 GI
Benefits of Low GI foods
- Helps Normalise Blood Sugar Levels
Low GI food prevents high blood sugar spikes by introducing sugars at a slower rate.
- Prevents Insulin Resistance – Type 2 Diabetes
Low GI food does not induce excess insulin production that can lead to developing insulin resistance.
- Keeps Your Appetite Stable
Low GI food provides a longer feeling of fullness without bloating and fatigue.
- Lowers Intake of Processed Food
By choosing low GI foods, you are automatically eliminating high GI food which are processed food that has been popularly linked to diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.
In conclusion: we should not cancel out carbs from our diet, but only the bad ones.
Here are some low GI carbs that you can consume:
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain bread
- Whole-grain pasta