When we think of carbohydrates we think, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, crackers, cakes and cookies. They are also found in our fruits and veggies, yes veggies and I’m not just talking about carrots, peas, squashes and potatoes. All veggies have carbs, so why are veggies always unlimited in our healthy balanced diets? The secret is fiber, yup fiber. Dietary fiber are resistant starches and can not be used as energy but are very important for our overall gut health.
It’s the fiber that creates the “good” carb from the “bad”.
If something contains 20 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of fiber your total net carbs are actually 10 grams. Yes, the grams of fiber cancel out gram for gram in your total carbohydrate.
A person on a low carb diet should consume 50 grams of net carbs a day. If you are very active it’s closer to 100 grams.
Now let’s dig a little deeper to understand how our bodies use and breakdown the forbidden carbohydrate.
Carbohydrates give us 40-45% of our energy supply daily.
There are two types of carbohydrates small and large.
The small carbs are single or double molecule known as Monosaccharides and Disaccharides.
The Monosaccharides are your single unit molecule carbs and are absorbed into your blood stream the moment you ingest them. These are your sugars known as glucose, fructose and galactose. These are your immediate energy. Examples are ripe fruit, and honey
The Disaccharides have 2 molecule units. These are your lactose (milk), sucrose (table sugar), maltose and isomaltose.
Both the Mono and Disaccharides give food that sweet taste and provide quick energy. Ladies and Gentleman these are your “simple sugars”.
Guess where most of these sugars are found…. In processed foods. To much of the simple sugars lead to increased insulin in the bloodstream knows as “a sugar rush” which causes cravings for more and interrupts your metabolism, not to mention there are links to cancer from ingesting to many simple sugars.
Now onto the large molecule carbohydrate. The polysaccharides. These are your starches. The starchy carbs have a very long chain of molecules so it takes longer for your body to break them down during digestion, giving you a slow release of energy and a moderate increase in insulin. When food is in it’s natural state the starch is encased in a protein or fiber so your body has to work hard to break them apart. This is why the absorption of sugar is slower and gives you longer energy.
On the flip side if a whole food is broken apart and put back together known as “processed foods” the long chain became short, which means instant release of sugar and we know what that does now.
So where does fiber come back in. It’s a polysaccharide which is our complex carb. When we choose whole fiber rich carbohydrates, like rye, quinoa, beans, white or sweet potatoes, long grain rice and those veggies we spoke about, take the grams of fiber minus the total carbs and now we have our total net carb for that food. How does this actually work. Well the sugar units in the fiber are bond together and can not be broken down and pass through our digestive track so they are never absorbed giving us less total carbohydrates. Veggies are full of fiber so they cancel out all the carbs in them making it an unlimited option in our healthy diets.
Next time you are thinking any type of carb is bad for you, think again, just make a better choice, eat whole natural foods in a balanced diet and enjoy!!