Not all Carbs are bad

So, for a long time now, as a rule of thumb, I’ve been a low-carb person laying off the soft drinks (where possible and not on nights out), avoiding heavy kinds of pasta, deep fried foods and anything else that fitted the profile. I didn’t do this as a result of any nutritional, in fact, it started way before I was interested in personal performance or health.  It started from observations of people and noticing the habits, trends and themes that stuck out the links to healthy and unhealthy.  It was these observations that motivated me to learn from their mistakes and do what I could to not be like some and be more like the others. The healthier, longevity focused types.

I’m glad that that behaviour sunk in early on and even when life wasn’t so great.  I still cheat here and there but the habit is not to.

Asit turns out, this worked massively in my favour as when I met my dad and the rest of my family on his side I learned that there’s a history of diabetes that I had to watch out for and having watched what I ate paid off and, though spawned from an innate desire to be active, was genetically was the safer route for me and I can only hope that it’s reduced risks in later life – so far so good.

Just like alcohol and drugs, the food you consume has either positive or negative effects our physical, mental and emotional performance and, if you can hack it, you can improve all three and you could even reverse damage.

#TrueStory: A friend of mine had patched where hair couldn’t grow on his face effectively leave him with a patchy beard.  after some research, he decided to change his diet and a few months later those bald patches were now no longer bald…!!

That said, eating the wrong carbs and in the wrong quantities can leave you unmotivated and unhealthy.

In this short article, I quest to understand more about carbs and how we can hack our bodies performance by altering the amounts and types of carbs we consume.

What are carbs??

  • Carbs are sugars and are broken into 2 groups – Simple vs Complex (Starchy).
  • Other than chemical structure, the differences are in how quickly they are digested and absorbed.
  • They are mostly broken down into Glucose which the body then uses as energy.
  • The carbs that don’t get turned into glucose are ‘insoluble fibers’ (doesn’t dissolve in warm water and adds bulk to stool helping to us to pass solids) and ‘sugar alcohols’ ( the sweetener used in foods and drinks).

Simple Carbs (aka: simple sugars, aka empty calories)

Initially, these are the sort ones for you but are found in natural fruits, veggies, and milk and give them that sweet taste.

  • They raise blood glucose levels quickly
  • Monosaccharides – Single molecule sugars
    • Glucose, Fructose, and Galactose
  • Disaccharides – Double molecule Sugars
    • Sucrose
    • Lactose
    • Maltose
  • Processed food contain added sugar and there are no UK laws that limit quantities
  • These sugars contain no nutrition, just energy and are also referred to as empty calories.

Unless you’re hypoglycemic, you should minimise your added sugar intake – less than 70g for Men and less than 50g for women. And, especially for those looking to shed a few unwanted pounds, you will benefit by eliminating added sugars from your diet.

Complex Carbs

  • Polysaccharides – starches formed by longer chain sugar molecules (saccharides).
  • Take longer to breakdown
  • usually made of three or more linked sugars
  • Complex carbs, strictly speaking, refers to highly refined starches (carbs that have been processed) are found in:
    • White bread, cakes, and most parties among other foods.

Refined Carbs

  • Are carbs that have been processed
  • In grain products, the fiber has been stripped out leaving just the starch which is broken down quicker and can sometimes still raise blood glucose levels similar to that of Simple sugar
  • Simple sugars can also be refined – Corn syrup that has been treated with enzymes that turn a portion of the syrup’s glucose into Fructose – Glucose-Fructose.

Dietitians and nutritional advise consumption of more Whole foods (Whole plant foods and whole grain foods) as they absorb even slower than refined starches.

Whole foods

  • wheat grain and kernel which provide the majority of fiber and nutrients to be found in starchy foods.
  • When it comes to picking starchy foods, it’s best to opt for whole grain versions of these products.
  • Though whole grain foods impact upon blood glucose levels more slowly than other forms of carbohydrate, having too much can still raise blood sugar levels substantially to have negative effects on your body.

In summary, and I suppose as a rule of thumb, avoid processed foods and added sugars and focus on consuming carbs that still contain their fibre – whole grain starches like whole grain rice, bread and pastas, and whole plant foods like green vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin, beans, lentils and peas


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