Complex versus Simple or Processed Carbohydrates – Part 2


In part one, it was introduced that only some carbohydrates are equal. Simple or processed carbohydrates are digested quickly, causing insulin spikes and significant swings in blood sugar levels. In contrast, complex carbohydrates are higher in fibre and digest more slowly, keeping the blood sugar levels stable. So, each time we consume sugar or sugary products like fruit juice or eat simple or processed carbohydrates like breakfast cereals, bread, pasta etc., which are digested fast, the body regulates the blood sugar levels in the bloodstream by releasing high levels of insulin. Among many other ill effects, this excess insulin in the bloodstream causes abdominal weight gain because it is a fat-promoting hormone and increases sodium retention and associated fluid retention. To keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable, it is required to eat a lower carbohydrate diet, avoid simple and processed carbohydrates and all sugary foods and start some form of exercise—the more we exercise, the better we can regulate our blood sugar and insulin levels.

As mentioned previously, complex carbohydrates contain high fibre and get digested more slowly. This makes them more filling, which means they’re a good option for weight control. Blood sugar levels drop around an hour or two after eating a meal high in simple or processed carbohydrates, which leads to feelings of hunger and cravings, causing overeating.

Other complexities when trying to understand carbohydrates are the differences in glycemic index. Some complex carbohydrates have a high Glycemic Index (above 55), like potatoes, and thus should be avoided. A Glycemic Index (GI) is a number associated with a particular type of food to indicate the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) level. (PS. there are free apps that let you easily search for and display the GI for different foods). Considering that GI is related to the food’s impact on blood sugar, low-carbohydrate and low-GI eating plans are therefore recommended for weight loss. It furthermore will prevent some chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

In the next post, we will deal with GI load. GI load is more valuable than GI when it comes to choosing the healthiest carbohydrates.

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