Argh, carbohydrate confusion!

You’re not alone if you’re in a spin about what carbohydrate foods actually are, and wonder whether or not you should be eating more or less of them… Give me a minute and I’ll clear your head once and for all.

Calories we eat come from either carbohydrates, proteins, or fats. All foods from plants contain carbohydrates – a rule of thumb to remember is that all foods apart from fats and meat contain carbs. Dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese) also contains carbs in the form of Lactose (milk sugar).

Carbohydrates are divided into two groups – either ‘Simple Carbs’ or ‘Complex Carbs’. Knowing the difference is important because the way they each influence your body fat levels and the way you feel is dramatically different.

Simple carbs are digested fast to give your body a sudden energy hit, sources include sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), and lactose (milk sugar). You know the “sugar high” you get from sneaking in those Pineapple Lumps from your top desk drawer? That’s your blood sugar sky rocketing as simple carbs are rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. Soon after you have an energy crash. When we eat simple carbs we have a burst of energy, and then can start nodding off soon after. You can also feel powerful hunger cravings set in within minutes after eating simple carbs. These cravings are a major for anyone watching calorie intake – at the next food stop the power of that earlier sugar snack on appetite can be unbearable.

In contrast to simple carbs, complex carbs are digested slowly and released into the bloodstream over a sustained period of time – providing stable energy compared to the rollercoaster of simple carbs. Complex carbs are usually full of nutritional value and contain healthy fibre, whereas simple carbs tend to be highly processed and lack the added health benefits of fibre along with other natural nutrients. Good complex carb choices are Kumara, Whole Grain Breads and Whole Grain Cereals, Oats, Brown Rice, Peas and Beans. All of these will help you feel feel full for far longer than simple carbs, and maintain healthier fat reducing blood sugar levels.

ALWAYS aim to choose whole grain foods over processed foods. Choose a whole grain breakfast cereal or oats/porridge for breakfast, or a sandwich of whole grain bread for lunch, include brown rice, kumara, or wholemeal pasta as the carb with your evening meal.

Complex and simple carbs are both sources of glucose for your muscles. This glucose can be used for immediate fuel to power your body, or can be stored in your ‘gas tanks’ (the liver and the muscles), once your ‘tanks’ are full any excess fuel is converted to fat. When carbs continue to ‘spill over’ you will always battle with body fat levels. One of the problems leading to the widespread obesity epidemic we have today is the massive over abundance of carbohydrate packed foods wherever we turn, and to make matters worse the low fat (and so called diet items) on the shelves that we are brain washed to believe can help us are jammed with unnecessary carbs.

If your goal is to lose unwanted kilo’s then start looking out for these carbohydrates and chop them back.

Two effective ways we can control weight and speed up weight loss is to firstly limit carbs – this will switch off the potential risk for excess carbs being converted to fat. If you eat less carbs your body will be better able to tap into body fat for fuel – and you successfully put the brakes on carb conversion to fat. Secondly choose complex carbs over simple carbs. The unstable blood sugar levels that simple carbs create switches off our ability to burn body fat. If you want to prevent this empty your pantry of simple carb foods …and get rid of those pineapple lumps too 😉

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