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Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

A Carbohydrates Diet: Not What You Think

A Carbohydrates Diet: Not What You Think

There is the perception that being on a carbohydrates diet will cause you to be overweight. Unfortunately, carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation and the right kind of carbohydrates can actually form the backbone of good nutrition.

Our devotion to “sweets” in this country has truly become an addiction for some people. Sweets like ice cream, pies, and cake are loaded with fat and contain empty calories. If you aren’t a “sweets” person, you probably eat too many foods in the category of bread, potatoes, rice, and noodles. All of these portions may be nutritious alone, but that is where high-fat toppings come in. Many of us have to butter our toast, put sour cream on our potato, and cover our pasta with alfredo sauce.

Nutritionally, there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate because carbohydrates are not needed to survive. Currently, most Americans are estimated to get 50-60 percent of their calories from carbohydrate sources. Sugar accounts for nearly 60 percent of these calories. At BistroMD, we recommend that most carbohydrates should be eaten in the form of starches rather than sugar. For every 15 grams of carbohydrates digested, your blood sugar will rise 30 points. This is where the importance of a properly balanced carbohydrates diet comes in. The meals provided by BistroMD spread your carbohydrates throughout the day so you don’t eat all of them at once.

Many people who do not eat a properly balanced carbohydrates diet could become insulin resistant. Caused either by a genetic tendency or as a consequence of storing extra fat in the abdomen, insulin resistance makes some people gain weight more progressively despite the fact that they never increase their caloric consumption nor decrease their exercise level.

Certain carbohydrates eaten alone will cause blood sugar to rise dramatically. This rise triggers a dramatic rise in insulin. However, carbohydrates that are high in fiber take longer to be digested and cause less of an insulin spike. Protein foods do not cause insulin secretion, so it is important to have a proper carbohydrates diet that gives you the right amount of protein in your diet so your insulin levels don’t rise dramatically.

Sugars are simple carbohydrates containing one or two sugar units. Because of this chemical arrangement, simple sugars taste sweet, adding flavor to foods. Examples are sucrose (table sugar); fructose (fruit sugar), and lactose (milk sugar). Fructose and lactose are no more nourishing than table sugar.

Your body rapidly breaks down a simple sugar. This rapid digestion causes the blood sugar to spike, which causes the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin in the blood. Insulin’s job is to get glucose into cells, but the cells cannot absorb large amounts right away. Therefore, insulin converts that glucose into fat.

The key here is to avoid simple sugars which are hidden in disguise as simple carbohydrates, and pay more attention to complex carbohydrates found in foods like starches. Unlike sugars, starches are found in foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Because of these nutrients, the body takes longer to digest them, which slows down the rise in your blood sugar and allows your body to utilize them better. For these reasons, it is important to eat foods that contain whole grains, whole wheat pasta, and whole grain breads.

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