I always hear a lot about low carb diets, or why we should be eating high protein or high fat diets, well like everything, some diets can work better for you than others, so let’s take a closer look at carbohydrate metabolism.
There are three main fuel sources for the body, these are known as macro nutrients; carbohydrates, protein and fat.
– Carbohydrates, for every 1g we gain 4 calories of energy. Carbohydrates are the bodies go to energy source. Your body breaks down these carbohydrates into sugars such as glucose in the intestine which are then absorbed into the blood stream. As your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas will release insulin to help the cells uptake this sugar to be used as energy. Or stored for later use if you have a calorie deficit.
– Fat, for every 1g we gain 9 calories of energy. This is the most concentrated of the 3 energy sources.
– Protein, for every 1g we gain 4 calories of energy. Protein for energy is used when your body is lacking carbohydrates or fats. When proteins are ingested they are broken down into amino acids, majority of these amino acids are then used by the body to build muscle and repair tissues.
The way we process carbohydrates can be affected by our genes, and our environment including diet and exercise. Let’s first look at diet and GI:
The Glycemic Index or GI is a scale of 0-100. A food with a GI of less than 55 is considered “low” GI and above 55 is considered “high” GI.
High GI Foods
Are converted to energy very quickly and cause the blood sugar levels to rise quickly, these are generally simple carbohydrates which means they only contain one or two units of sugars, processed foods often have a lot of simple sugars and these are the ones to be avoided, no surprises here, but yes you do need to avoid processed cakes, syrups, lollies and the like MOST of the time.
LOW GI Foods
These foods are made up of more complex sugars and take longer for the body to breakdown and therefore you get a more sustained release of energy, and your blood sugar rise is more steady. This helps you feel fuller for longer. Think foods like grainy bread, wholemeal pasta, lentils and most fruits and vegetables.
I like to go one step further and look at Glycemic Load GL, what is that?
GL= GI/100 x Net Carbs (Total Carbs – dietary fiber)
This gives a greater understanding of what value your food has, and is great for comparing different foods, particularly if you are trying to manage your blood sugar response to carbohydrates, trying to lose weight, or trying to build muscle. For a great tool to compare click here.
Your body needs carbohydrates for brain development and function, exercise and strenuous activity, they help you stay alert and healthy. There is nothing wrong with the right type of carbs.
One of my favorite uses of a high carbohydrate diet is being plant-based, or also known as the 80/10/10 diet, If this sounds like something you would like to try, grab this book first, this book is written by a Doctor and shows the healthy way to go plant-based. Find the book here.
What does my DNA say about carbohydrates?
My genes show I am likely to be more sensitive to poor quality carbohydrates affecting my blood sugar levels. This is because my genes show I am likely to suffer from decreased insulin secretion plus I am likely to have a slower release of insulin. Both meaning by blood sugar levels stay higher for longer than average. My genes also show that I have a lower than normal fasting blood glucose level, meaning I am not suited to fasting. For me eating a well balanced diet, including Low GI/GL foods are a way to maintain a healthy blood sugar and insulin response. Exercise can also help assist with this.
To find out if a higher carbohydrate diet may work wonders for your health, book in to see your GP for a cholesterol and blood sugar glucose analysis and consider undertaking your genetic wellness test and let me help develop a plan that works for your DNA.