It’s almost a bad word for people with diabetes. This nutrient has instilled fear in every person who wants to lose weight.
This is because countless debates and studies about low carb and high-fat diets have all blamed carbohydrates as the culprits for weight gain and diabetes.
They have their reasons. Carbs are broken down to glucose. The pancreas releases massive amounts of insulin to balance the glucose spike. With more insulin in your blood, your body converts the carbohydrates to fat and stores them on your thighs, abdomen, and hips.
On the flip side, carbs have been defended in the court of nutrition but only by the weakest lawyers who’ve been unable to get rid of their bad reputation.
Don’t give up carbs just yet
So, there is some truth to the tales of the big bad carb. but does that mean you shun all carbs?
After all, carbohydrates form the bulk of our diet. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends 50-60% of our calories should come from carbohydrates, mainly whole grains.
What’s more, the end-product of carbs i.e. glucose provides energy for every little task you do – be it eating, running, walking or bathing. Glucose is the primary fuel for your brain and muscles.
Simply put, you can’t function without this important nutrient. So, say goodbye to even thinking about a no-carb diet. Sorry, Keto!
To become a smart carb eater, you need to learn how to make the right carb choice.
In search of the good carb
The right carbohydrates will help you lose weight and balance your sugar levels at the same time. In addition, they help you combat constipation and ensure you get a sound sleep.
Let’s meet these wonderful carbs – introducing complex carbs.
Complex carbohydrates brim with the goodness of fibre. Fibre refers to the indigestible carbs found in plant foods. It offers a host of health benefits ranging from weight loss to healthy cholesterol levels and sugar control. Here are some fibre-rich recipes, you must try.
Eating carbs for weight loss
Since fibre cannot be digested by your body, you are eating food that doesn’t add any extra calories. That means you will feel full without putting on the kilos. Also, fibre decreases the production of hunger hormones while simultaneously increasing production of satiety hormones. Satiety hormones are the ones that tell you to stop eating. As a result, fibre reduces your calorie intake and helps you knock off the extra kilos.
Additionally, fibre forms a gel-like substance in the stomach that slows down the digestion of all food and staves off the dreaded sugar spikes in people with diabetes. This is why nutritionists will tell you to eat a salad if you are planning to indulge in oily, fried food. The gel-like lining on your stomach stops the fried foods from causing a spike in your sugar levels. Seems like a decent tip to follow before going to a wedding where you will encounter rich food.
Most fibre-rich foods have a low glycemic index and load which leads to stable blood sugar levels after meals.
Besides, fibre reduces the absorption of cholesterol from your food.
Studies suggest you eat around 25-40 grams of fibre in a day to get its best benefits. So ensure you have 4 servings of whole grains, 1-2 servings of pulses/legumes, 1/2 serving of nuts and seeds, and 5 servings of veggies and fruits every day to grab your fibre quota.
The benefits of complex carbs don’t end here.
Complex carb’s evil step-brother
Now, the carb to be careful of is the simple carb.
Simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down into glucose because of their simple chemical structure. They have a high glycemic index i.e. they cause a sudden, sharp increase in blood sugar levels. As a result, your insulin levels increase which triggers fat storage.
When you eat simple sugars, you feel an instant happy high and after a short interval, you experience a crash in energy levels, making you eat more. Hence, simple sugars not only increase your calorie intake but worsen diabetes.
Chocolates, ice creams, soft drinks, cakes, pastry, biscuits, bagels, white bread, cornflakes are loaded with simple carbohydrates.
Hopefully, now you’ve steered clear of the carb confusion and have realized that instead of eliminating carbohydrates, all you need to do is replace simple carbohydrates with complex ones.
Here are some super tips to help you make smarter carb-related decisions:
- Restrict your intake of cereals to 2 servings at a time to prevent the sugar spike. 2 chappatis, 1 chappati and ½ medium bowl of rice or 2 bhakhris count as two servings.
- Eating fruits with a meal shoots up its glycemic index and load. So it’s best to eat fruit as a snack.
- Always, savor the fruit; don’t drink its juice. The juice has no fibre content. It is empty calories that send your blood sugar levels in a tizzy.
- Want to eat sweet fruits like mangoes, bananas, custard apple or chikoos? Go ahead. Just remember to restrict your quantity to 50 grams.
- Don’t be fibre fooled. Many multi-grain biscuits or snacks contain extra fat to bind the added fibre. Grab your fibre quota from natural sources such as veggies, fruits, nuts, and whole grains instead.
- Buying a fibre-rich breakfast cereal or nutri-bar? It should contain more than 2 grams of fibre per serving. Also, its sugar content should not exceed 20 grams of sugar in a 100-gram serving.
For a complete diabetes-friendly diet plan, click here.