Good Carbs & Bad Carbs

It’s only too often that one would hear “I have to stop eating all these carbs and go on a diet.” Did you know that replacing the bad carbohydrates in your diet with good ones can go a long way by itself?

What defines good carbohydrates from bad? The answer is simple: the glycemic index (GI). This is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that spike your blood sugar and insulin levels are bad! Carbohydrates that produce only small fluctuations in your blood sugar and insulin levels are good.

Bad carbohydrates have a high glycemic index.

Good carbohydrates have a low glycemic index.

You can think of it like this: The human body likes everything to remain balanced (like a city). High GI foods send enormous amounts of glucose into your blood stream causing a large distortion in the once-balanced blood sugar level (the blood sugar spike, like a surge in crime). The pancreas goes into ‘emergency mode’ and dispatches copious amounts of insulin to put away the glucose so that the levels can go back to normal (the insulin spike, like the police). Glucose levels go down and insulin sticks around until it’s degraded (takes about an hour). Eventually, the body tissues (glucose storage departments) that use the insulin get tired of having it around and may stop responding to it (insulin resistance). Type 2 diabetes mellitus may occur as a result. Type 2 diabetes can progress to the point where the pancreas is so overworked that parts of it stop working and insulin isn’t produced much anymore. What bad carbs!

Basically, the lower the glycemic index, the better it is for your body. These foods slowly allow glucose into the blood stream so that levels rise only slightly, only small amounts of insulin is released in response and the pancreas doesn’t get overworked. Low GI foods are much healthier and keeps your energy levels more balanced. There are a number of benefits to eating low GI foods, some of which include:

  • losing and managing weight
  • diabetes management
  • reduced risk of heart disease
  • prolong physical endurance
  • reduce hunger and remain fuller longer

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So, how do I know what foods are low glycemic and high glycemic? You can use this database link to find the glycemic index of the foods you’re curious about.

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If you’d like to read more about the glycemic index, check out The Glycemic Index.

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