Carbs are very important for your body as they supply the much needed energy. The daily minimum carb requirement of women is 130 grams, pregnant women is 175g and breastfeeding women is 210g.We have commonly heard people saying “Avoid carbs to lose weight or not put on weight”. This is a myth, and not all carbs are bad and promote weight gain. So, what kinds of carbs are good for you? Complex carbs with low glycemic index are the good and healthy carbs.
Glycemic index(GI) is a number on a scale from 0 to 100 that denotes the amount by which blood sugar level increases after eating the carbohydrate.
Carbs with a high GI are rapidly converted to sugar and readily absorbed by your body. They cause spikes in glucose and insulin levels, which in turn spikes the energy released, causing a sugar crash. After the energy is depleted, you’re stranded hungry again. So, you will end up eating more calories leading to weight gain.
On the other hand, carbs with low glycemic index are converted into sugar and absorbed gradually, supplying your body with constant energy. They keep you full for longer and reduce hunger.
Simple carbs have very high GI, and complex carbs have low glycemic index. Complex carbs are whole foods from plant sources that are less processed or unprocessed. Examples of such carbs are:
- Vegetables – sweet potatoes, potatoes, broccoli, avocado, greens etc.
- fruits – apples, oranges and berries,
- whole grainsor whole grain foods – whole wheat or whole grain bread, oatmeal, brown and basmati rice
- legumes – lentils, beans and peas
However, any healthy, complex carb can be processed to form a simple carb. For example, brown rice can be refined and polished to make white rice, whole wheat berries are stripped off the hull, bran and germ to process white all-purpose flour from the leftover endosperm.
Further, the white flour that is depleted of nutrients is added with more sugar to prepare cakes, cookies and muffins. Such processed foods have a very high glycemic index and spike blood sugar levels.
The blood sugar levels in the body can be regulated as follows:
- By substituting high GI carbs with low GI carbs, such as white bread with whole wheat bread, white rice with brown rice, sugary cereals with oatmeal, and fruit juices with whole fruits.
- Alternatively, adding at least one of the low GI foods along with high GI can regulate sugar levels. For example, pairing white rice with lentils, waffles with lot of berries, and pasta with a lot of vegetables can help.
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