Over the past decade, carbohydrates have gotten a lot of flak. Many of the really popular low carbohydrates diets like Atkins diet and South Beach diet have condemned bad carbohydrates, creating what we call Carbophobia.
We feel sorry for carbohydrate rich foods. All they’re trying to do is provide us with energy, but our lifestyles are so sedentary now that we barely burn the energy. So, our body being the frugal spender, likes to save up all that extra energy as fat in our body. So, is it really the fault of carbohydrates, or ours? That our lifestyles have changed to burning fewer calories but our calorie intake has gone up. That’s a debatable topic.
Anyway, we’re here to solve the mystery of good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates - to help you understand which carbohydrates are good for your health and which carbohydrates are unhealthy for you. Carbohydrates are chemical compounds that are digested by our body and absorbed into the blood stream to supply our body with energy. Now, the glycemic index or the GI is a measure of how fast carbohydrates are absorbed into the blood stream. The faster they’re absorbed, the higher the GI, and vice-versa. For most sedentary adults, foods with low GI are better.
This is because when we consume high GI foods, they rapidly increase the blood sugar levels. This signals our brain to store fat – So, the effect of eating high Glycemic Index foods – they can make you fat.
Low GI foods on the other hand provide sustained energy and are better suited for sedentary lifestyles.
High GI foods are sugar, corn flakes, white bread, most white rice, candy. Low GI foods are most fruits and vegetables, pulses, meat, milk and nuts (are healthy).
Note that high GI foods are also useful when your body needs energy, like for athletes, prolonged physical activity, etc.
So, whether carbohydrates are good or bad is really dependent upon your lifestyle and your needs. What we suggest is have a balanced healthy diet and be active. Go out and play a sport, run, get some exercise – this classic exercise is good for men and women, or just hit the gym. Carbohydrates aren’t the problem, its our inactivity that is root of the “I’m getting fat” problem.