Keeping it simple, there are two kinds of carbohydrates (carbs).
- Simple, easy to digest carbs.
- Complex (unrefined) carbs.
The simple type are quickly absorbed and cause a rapid “spike” in your blood sugar.
What sorts of foods include simple sugars?
Sugar (the white granulated stuff some people add to tea/coffee, or sprinkle on their breakfast cereal), syrups, honey, most processed foods, white bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
- Don’t go so heavy on the bread/rice/pasta/potatoes
- Avoid sugar in tea/coffee
- Avoid fizzy drinks
- Avoid processed foods – they are loaded with hidden sugars
These include fibre, and that makes them harder to absorb. They therefore provide more of a “slow-release” of carbs into your system, and so don’t cause blood sugar “spikes”.
What sorts of foods contain complex carbs?
- Green vegetables.
- Whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads.
- Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin.
- Beans, lentils, and peas.
Beware of brown bread and cereals that claim to be whole grain – many are heavily processed and include extra sugar.
Remember that spikes in blood sugar lead to the production of more insulin. We want to avoid this!
Why bad carbs are evil
Bad carbs (e.g. refined sugars/white bread/pasta/rice/potatoes) are said to have a High Glycaemic Index (GI), which means the sugars get into your system fast.
Bad carbs do two things:
- They cause blood sugar spikes, which trigger insulin production.
- After the spike, you’ll “crash” and then feel really hungry again.
Good carbs have a Lower Glycaemic Index (GI) rating, being released more slowly into the system.
Good carbs are better because:
- They do not trigger such a high release of insulin.
- There is no follow-on crash, and you will feel fuller for longer.
(By the way, the US spelling of Glycaemic seems to be “glycemic”)