There are two types of carbohydrates, classified by the molecular makeup and how the body breaks them down. Simple carbohydrates are simple sugars. These carbohydrates are quickly broken down in the body to release energy. When simple carbohydrates are consumed, their high sugar content is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing insulin levels to rapidly increase, which make you feel hungrier faster. Complex carbohydrates are made of hundreds to thousands of simple carbohydrates that are bonded together. This type of carbohydrates is broken down more slowly and gives a slow, steady release of energy. These are the carbs you want to consume throughout the day to fuel your metabolism. When complex carbohydrate is consumed, its high fiber content breaks down more slowly, making you feel full longer and giving you time-released energy.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic load will help you to decide which carbohydrate is simple or complex. Glycemic Index was developed for diabetics but you do not have to be diabetic to reap the benefits of GI ranking system. Glycemic index is measured on a scale of 1 to 100 (1 being low and 100 being high).
Glycemic Index Rankings
|0-55||56-69||70 and above|
Low GI foods produce little to no fluctuations in our blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods with a high GI - including things like watermelon, white rice, potatoes, most breads, cake, candy, popcorn, and cookies - rapidly raise blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar rises quickly, your body increases insulin production, telling the body to store fat. Controlling the GI of your foods promotes normal blood sugar levels to stay in fat-burning mode. Changing your diet and getting rid of processed food and sugar will help you to feel energized, alert, and productive.
While glycemic index tells you how a food affects your blood sugar levels, it does not tell you how much of that particular food is in a serving. It is important to take both the glycemix index and glycemic load into consideration to understand the full effect a food has on your blood sugar. Glycemic load (GL) reflect not only the GI of a food, but also the amount of carbohydrates ingested. Each number of the GL is equivalent to 1 gram of carbohydrate from pure glucose. The lower the GL, the smaller the amount of glucose, which is best. GL helps paint a more realistic picture of how a food can affect blood sugar levels by taking into account the glycemix index of foods and serving size.
|0-10||11-19||20 and above|
Let's look at carrots as an example. Raw carrots are considered a high-GI food even though they are relatively low in carbohydrates, However, carrots have a low GL because it would take almost three cups of carrots to equal 50 grams of carbohydrates. Therefore, eating a single cup or less of carrots would still be considered low.
Carbohydrates play an important role in functioning of or body. Knowing the difference between carbohydrates and following low-glycemic diet are the keys to stay healthy and fit. Next time, when you want to reach for a sugary snack, think what these carbohydrates do to your body. Do not choose foods with a high-glycemic value because it will raise your blood glucose levels and increase insulin levels, causing the body to go into fat storage mode. Adhering to low-glycemic carbohydrates will make a big difference in your diet, and you will see tremendous results in no time.