So many people have questions about carbohydrates (Carbs). And with the popularity of Keto, carbs are taught to be avoided. While it is true that carbs are unnecessary, they certainly are not all equal and do not all have to be avoided. When it come to carbs (which are simple and double sugars) it’s all about GLYCEMIC INDEX. How much will it raise blood sugar (Glucose) and (Insulin).
Let’s break them down into groups of types of carbohydrates:
Veggies are the ultimate carbs. Most veggies will raise Blood Sugar very little (5 to 30GI). Most veggies can bring other health benefits including vitamins and minerals. I recommend that they are consumed at least once every day and up to three times (with each meal).
Fruit, is a different story…. Many fruits are high in Glycemic Index and are simple carbohydrates. In fact, some fruits are considerably higher than candy bars (bananas, watermelon, raisins). While they may not have added sugar, eating some will make you crave other carbs later in the day (think crackers, bread, pizza, ice cream). However, there are some that are lower in GI. In fact, even olives and avocados (see list) are allowed on ALL diets including Keto and can help you feel full! I recommend that you consume only fruits below 40GI. Except for one day per week (cheat day) then any fruit can be consumed.
Whole Grains – which hit their peak of popularity in the 1990s and early 2000’s. Things like brown rice, white rice and other are complex carbohydrates. I refer to them as ‘Tocacco Carbs’ or “Low Tar Cigarettes”. They were touted as being slow releasing – which meant that they would increase your glucose and insulin but much slower than simple sugars (orange juice, milk, candy). And they do. However, they also KEEP your blood sugar and insulin elevated longer than ANYTHING else in the food chain. Furthermore, many people thinking they were healthy would routinely over-consume them causing an increase in body fat and additional sugar cravings.
Yes, whole grains might be slightly better than bleached white grains (think low tar cigarette vs. regular cigarette) but they are not much better. Furthermore, comparing yourself to the worst possible products in the food chain is not exactly a sign of confidence. Bleached white grains are the worst. Example of white bread. Not only do they raise blood sugar the most (which is bad by itself). It also does the following: Blood glucose remains elevated longer Insulin remains elevated longer It ruins the beta cells in the pancreas (the place where insulin is created) It increases cravings for other carbs and sugars It inflames the digestive tract causing (GERD, IBB, Acid Reflux and more) Is the leading cause of Diabetes – hence heart disease and now dementia And more! This is important to note with every occurrence of many common convenience foods we are prematurely aging and destroying our bodies. The most common offenders are: Pizza, Wraps, Cereal, Crackers, Bread, Pasta, Rice, Rolls and Buns
There are some other offenders called combination carbs as well (combination of carbs, fats, proteins) like Milk, dairy products and nuts (see below). Some are very high in GI and some low. But since they are not purely carbohydrates, I will leave them for another discussion.
What does all this mean?
When it comes to food there are hundreds of choices, but it all breaks down to three big groups: Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates. Carbs are the only group that is not required for human life. However, I do not believe that eliminating them is necessary. My strategy for most clients? Eat carbs every day – the ones that are below 40GI (Veggies, certain fruits, certain legumes, see attached or above) Eat any carbs once per week (Cheat Day – best if Sunday)
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