What are the things we should consider when deciding what forms of carbohydrates to include within our meal plans? How do we know what the difference between 'good' carbs and 'bad' carbs are - and why should we care?
The best carbohydrate choices are the ones that are lower in carbohydrate content and calories but high in essential vitamins and minerals. These include, but are not limited to fruits such as peaches, plums, strawberries, nectarines and raw apricots. An even better source of carbohydrates can be found in vegetables such as broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, cucumber, squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, eggplant, celery and beans. The main difference between fruits and vegetables that needs to be considered is that consumption of vegetables will not cause a spike in your blood sugar levels and cause insulin to be secreted. Consistent consumption of these great carbohydrate choices, will help stabilise your energy and ensure your body has the capability of consistently burning fat throughout the day.
Next onto Moderate carbohydrate choices, these include a lot of your starchy carbohydrates and would be what a lot of people refer to as complex carbohydrates. These include things like breads, rice, pasta and potatoes. Although these are not included in the 'best' carbohydrate choices category I would still highly recommend at least one source of moderate carbohydrate choices each day - the key point here is to consume them in moderation.
We can again break this down into the better and poorer choices. We do this by categorising these into either High GI or Low GI. GI refers to the effect this food will have on a person's blood sugar levels. Therefore a high GI food would have a high effect on someone's blood sugar, where as a low GI food would not. The problem with a food having a high impact on your blood sugar levels is that it will cause insulin to be secreted. This will put a block on your body's natural fat burning process !
Low GI foods include things such as wholemeal bread or pasta, brown rice. High GI foods include the opposites - white bread, white pasta, white rice. When looking at the carbohydrate content of these foods they are very similar but choosing the white (High GI) alternative will lead to an insulin response that will prevent fat loss for a small period of time.
Lastly, let us go through the poor carbohydrate choices. These include things like pastries, cakes, chocolates, chips and sugars. Now, there are numerous problems with this choice of carbohydrate - not only will it only fill you up for a short period of time which will force you to eat more than you probably should, it will also generally lead to a spike in your insulin levels due to the sugar in these items (Just like high GI foods mentioned above) which will result in a block being put on your body's natural fat burning process. These choices also can cause you to go through great variations in your mood and energy. These items are also incredibly high in energy. Let's compare a common vegetable such as broccoli 300g is 54 calories to a mars bar 53g is 240 calories! So next time you are thinking you just need that quick hit of energy and try to tell yourself that one sneaky mars bar won't make too much of a difference to you achieving your goals - please think again and make an informed decision when deciding whether to choose a good, moderate or poor choice of carbohydrate!
To summarise, although there are better and worse choices mentioned above - all are edible J You will stand to make much better progress in moving towards your goals by including the things you love into your planned eating strategy to set yourself up for long term success JYou do not need to go on a diet of restriction or deprivation in order to lose weight or achieve your fat loss goals. You simply need to come to a better understanding of what happens when you put those foods in your mouth. You can then make an informed decision for yourself and choose accordingly, whether it means consuming them at a different time of day, consuming the low GI alternative (wholemeal pasta over white) or doing a little bit of exercise to burn it off!*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.