Traditionally, when people think of breakfast cereal, they think of corn flakes and milk. Yes, breakfast is good for you. But what is odd, is the association of corn flakes with healthy food. Many people eat corn flakes to lose weight or reduce harmful belly fat.
The base ingredient is corn, but along with that the other major ingredient are sugar, malt flavouring, and high fructose corn syrup. All these ingredients have a high content of high GI carbohydrates. In fact, there is a huge controversy linked to the excessive use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) in food- it has been linked to obesity, since it promotes excessive food consumption and insulin resistance in the body. As Indians, we already have the ‘belly gene’, and are prone to diabetes. Consumption of high GI carbohydrates only increases that risk.
Besides the health effects of HFCS, corn flakes has a high content of high GI carbohydrates, which promote fat storage in your body. Besides the fat storage, high GI carbohydrates increase your blood sugar drastically. This high blood sugar level promotes fat storage in the body. This is the ‘sugar rush’ or ‘energy rush’ that you experience after eating sweets. Your brain’s job in the body is to balance all processes. So to counteract this increased blood sugar level, your body over produces Insulin. (Insulin is a hormone which regulated blood sugar levels. For more, know more about Insulin). With extra insulin in your system, your blood sugar level reduces drastically. Your brain assumes this low blood sugar is a signal of less energy, and you experience that laziness post a carbohydrate heavy meal (rice, white bread, etc). Your brain also signals you to eat, since it misinterprets these low sugar levels for lack of energy in the body.
Calories and Nutrition in Corn Flakes: Each cup of corn flakes (approx 25 grams) contains, 21.7 gms of carbohydrates and only 1.7 grams of protein and low fiber content if any. Due to its low protein content, it will not keep you full for long. Each cup of corn flakes has approx 95 calories.
Some breakfast cereal ads might show that corn flakes help you lose weight, but they only expect to eat limited corn flakes for your meals. The irony of corn flakes is that its low in fat, but the high sugar content promotes fat storage!
If you really enjoy corn flakes, then have it with some low fat milk, and add a dose of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants with fruits like berries, apples or bananas. It’ll make a delicious and healthy breakfast and great post workout snack. If you’re diabetic, watch your diet- we have the complete list of foods that diabetics should avoid.
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.