Tag Archives: carbohydrate phobia

Do Carbohydrates Make You Fat?

Through the past decade, carbohydrates have got a lot of flak, apparently for making people gain weight. Many of the really popular low-carb diets have condemned carbohydrates, creating what we call carbophobia. Carbohydrates also play a significant role in the structure and function of the body organs and nerve cells. The brain also needs to use this glucose as an energy source, since it cannot use fat for this purpose. It is for this reason that the level of glucose in the blood must be constantly maintained above the minimum level.

Carbohydrates can be broken down into two forms:

Simple carbohydrates or Simple sugars: FruitsThis category of carbohydrate is made from simple sugar and is instantly broken down and digested. Simple carbohydrates are also known as bad carbohydrates as they contain refined sugars and few essential vitamins and minerals. Examples include table sugar, fruit juice, milk, yogurt, honey, most packaged cereals, white bread, soft drinks, ice cream, cake and candy.

Complex carbohydrates: Complex carbohydrates or good carbohydrates unlike the bad ones take longer to digest and are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Examples include vegetables, whole grain bread, oatmeal, legumes, fruit, lentils, brown rice and wheat pasta. Most naturally occurring carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates.

What happens when you eat (or drink) a simple carbohydrate – whether it is a bowl of packaged cereal, a scoop of fat-free ice cream or even a glass of orange juice – is that all of the ingested sugar quickly rushes into your bloodstream. You typically feel a quick rush of energy. Your body promptly reacts to this sudden spike in blood sugar by calling on the pancreas to produce additional insulin to remove the excess sugar from your blood. And for the moment, you have significantly lower blood sugar as a result of the insulin doing its job, resulting in a sense or feeling of needing more fuel, more energy and more calories. All this makes you crave more simple carbohydrates. This is also the reason why you feel lethargic, or crave more sugar, after eating a simple carbohydrate-loaded meal.

Complex carbohydrates take a longer time to break down into their elementary form and hence require more time for digestion. The slow breakdown process supplies you with constant energy for a longer duration. Since these carbohydrates require more time for conversion, they are constantly used up by the body. Therefore sugar converted to fat is not stored in a large quantity unlike simple carbohydrates.

Whether carbohydrates are good or bad is really dependent upon your lifestyle and your needs. What we suggest is you eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Avoid processed sources of carbohydrates and be active. Go out and play a sport, run and get some exercise.

Carbohydrates are not really the problem. You might be eating more than you need or not exercising enough which are causing the actual “I’m getting fat” problem.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo
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Good Carbohydrates and Bad Carbohydrates

Over the past decade, carbohydrates have received 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. Is it really the fault of carbohydrates, or ours? That our lifestyles have changed to burning fewer calories and consuming more calories. 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 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, especially for athletes, those indulging in 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.

— this article is written by a dietitian @ FitHo