Low carb? No carb? Just not after 4pm? There is a lot of confusion surrounding carbohydrates, and they more often than not get a bad rap.
Carbohydrates are an important energy source for the body. We get them from many different foods – bread, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruit and dairy for example. The truth is that carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet and we absolutely need to eat them!
The key is to consider the types of carbohydrates that you are eating. Carbs can be split into two categories based on their effect on the body once eaten. Fast acting carbohydrates – think white bread, potato chips, lollies – are broken down quickly and cause a large peak in blood sugar levels, followed shortly after by a sugar crash (hello 3.30pm slump!). On the flip side, slow acting carbs like multigrain bread and sweet potatoes cause a much more stable and steady blood sugar rise and fall, and are therefore more sustaining until your next meal. The scientific term for this is glycaemic index (GI), and is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels compared to pure glucose. Ideally the bulk of our carb intake should come from slow acting, or low GI carbohydrate foods. Of course high GI carbohydrate foods can still be included as part of a healthy diet, just in smaller amounts.
Ideally the bulk of our carb intake should come from slow acting, or low GI carbohydrate foods.
So the question is not should we eat carbs (yes!), but really which types should we eat? Have a look at our list below of low GI options. Spoiler: it may surprise you to find wholemeal bread and brown rice do not make the cut!
Low GI Carb Choices
Opt for a multigrain or traditional sourdough loaf. White and even wholemeal breads are actually high GI. The more grain the better!
Low GI options include basmati, doongara or wild rice. Or switch it up and try other low GI grains such as quinoa, barley, bulghur, or pearl cous cous.
Regular wheat pasta is low GI. As are rice and soba noodles. Canned spaghetti, potato gnocchi and instant noodles are all on the high GI side however.
Cereals are a tricky one as majority are high GI. Untoasted plain muesli, rolled oats, bran and weetbix are all low GI options.
Sweet potatoes and white carisma potatoes are low GI. Eat with the potato skin on for bonus points! Regular white potatoes however fall into the high GI category.
University of Sydney. Glycaemic Index. Available at: http://www.glycemicindex.com
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