Medical Articles

Healthy Carbohydrates

When embarking on any journey in life, it is extremely important to UNDERSTAND what we are surrounding our self with, what we need to cut out, and what we ought to bring into our lives to ensure success. The same applies to any weight loss, or health journey. We have all heard of COUNTLESS fad diets, sure they work for a short period of time, but what you're missing is concrete INFORMATION. CARBOHYDRATES... we have heard SO many negative things. " If you want to lose weight, stop eating bread". "If you want to lose weight, you have to minimize your carbs!". These are both WRONG. Today I will be teaching you the difference between HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES, and "bad" carbohydrates.

Ok, so let's start from the beginning. Carbohydrates are basically sugars. They are the number one source of fuel for our body. Our bodies know that in order to get energy for any form of activity, it must dip into its carbohydrates. This especially applies to vigorous training. On a side note, our bodies typically use the "good fats" we consume for very low energy activities. OK, so back to the basics of carbohydrates.

When we think Carbohydrates, we think bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, pastries, cookies, granola bars, oatmeal... I could go on for days. But where are they all different and how do our bodies react?

Most people have heard the term "Glycemic Index" but what does it mean? To make it simple, the glycemic index defines the spike that will occur to our blood sugar levels. The higher our blood sugar levels go, the more likely we will experience a drastic drop, and therefore crave MORE sugar. This means, we want to eat lower glycemic load foods in order to keep our blood sugar levels at a rather steady pace to avoid drastic increases and decreases. Many healthy foods such as most fruits and some vegetables, have a higher glycemic load, but when consumed with a healthy fat, or a protein, this levels it out. This goes back to WHY I often recommend an apple with almonds as a snack. The fat in the almonds counteract with the sugars in the apple to create a lower glycemic snack.

Ok, so what are some Healthy Carbohydrates, and WHY?

Oatmeal/Spelt Bran/Oat Bran- These are all extremely healthy carbohydrates because when chosen properly and cooked properly, there is literally no added sugar, and they typically consist of the full grain which offers vitamins, minerals and fibre. When choosing breakfast cereals such as these opt of the most natural. As tempting as Quakers Cinnamon and Brown sugar Oatmeal is sometimes, choose the natural oats, and add the cinnamon yourself. This way you KNOW what is in your food, and you can Choose to make the healthier choice.

Whole Grain Whole Wheat Bread/Rye/Pumpernickle Bread- because it is not loaded with simple sugars, and all of the aspects of the "whole grain" make it a more complete choice that will NOT spike your blood sugar levels. This is a much better choice than enriched white bread, or even 60% Whole Wheat.

Wild Rice/Brown Rice- again, because it is not loaded with sugar, and when you're eating the entire grain, including the husk of the rice, it decreases its glycemic load, and therefore offering a healthy carbohydrate that is full of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Quinoa- This is an excellent choice because it is the only whole grain, that is not only a whole grain, but it is also a complete protein. It offers the benefits of a whole grain (vitamins and minerals) as well as the satiety that is often accompanied by protein. This is also an excellent choice for vegetarians or vegans.

Sweet Potato- because it is loaded with vitamins A and C, and a number of other vitamins and minerals. So not only are you getting the benefit of vitamins and minerals, it is a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic load that is sure to keep you satisfied.

Whole Wheat/Whole Grain Pasta- because it is loaded with great vitamins, minerals and fibre without the excessive added sugars and empty calories that are found in white pasta. Whole wheat or whole grain pasta will keep you feeling satisfied far long than white pasta because, again, the glycemic load is much lower.

Peas/Chick Peas/Garbanzo Beans- These are a fabulous choice because they also offer an abundance of vitamins and minerals, and loads of protein and fibre that will keep your GI tract very healthy. *****Please note, if you're new to the bean world- DO NOT over do it. Start with very small portions, and be sure to drink lots of water. The fibre in them tends to scare first time eaters away because the drastic increase in fibre often amounts to gas, bloating and discomfort. ****** So, start slow. These are an extremely healthy carbohydrate for vegetarians or vegans because they offer the protein that the body needs.

ANY FRUITS OR VEGETABLES- you must always remember that fruits and vegetables are EXTREMELY important. Some fruits and vegetables MAY have a higher glycemic load, but regardless of glycemic load, they are EXTREMELY HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES. They are loaded with most vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function at optimal levels, and help fight colds, and even disease and cancer. IF you are looking to lose weight, always make sure to pair a fruit with a healthy fat or a protein. An example of this would be an apple with almonds, or an orange with a protein shake. Also, if weight loss if the goal, try to keep most fruits consumed during the day, and try to consume more Vegetables than fruit in the evening. That way, you will have time during the day to burn off the extra calories that are often found in fruits. ALWAYS remember the importance of fruits AND vegetables, regardless of calorie content, the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and fibre that we find in these wonder foods will certainly guide you in the right direction of weight loss and overall health.

In conclusion, when you're looking to eat healthy carbohydrates, choose something as unprocessed as possible, and as wholesome as possible. Carbohydrates are extremely important for our bodies, we need them to function properly. Making the right choice will ensure great success in overall health and weight loss.

Your friend,

Sandy Dandy;)

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