Today I am going back to basics. Talking about a healthy lifestyle and a low carb diet, I think it is imperative to discuss a low carb diet and the effect it has on our bodies.
But before we can deliberate the importance of a low carb lifestyle, we first have to have a clear idea what carbs actually are.
Carbohydrates are basically sugars that create glucose when broken down in the body. And we know that glucose is the body’s energy, the petrol that keeps the motor running. There are two different types of carbohydrates, namely Simple carbs and Complex carbs.
Simple carbs are sugars that have a simple molecular structure (consisting of one or two parts). These sugars can be absorbed quickly and easily by the body because of their simple structure. So as they are absorbed quickly, they give the body a sudden rush of energy as the blood sugar levels are suddenly raised. These types of carbs or sugars tend to have a high GI index.
So obviously the complex carbs would refer to sugars with complex molecular structures that take more effort to be absorbed by the body as the sugar is broken down into glucose. Furthermore, the complex variety is rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals with a lower GI index.
Candy, soft drinks and jams are all examples of simple carbs. Of course refined sugar is also a form of simple carbohydrates. Carbs that are simply sugar that are used to enhance flavour is frequently found in processed and fast foods. These sugars are referred to as empty calories as it has no or very little nutritional value. It’s important to know that not all simple carbs are harmful though, as fruit, milk and other dairy products also fall in this category. Of course fruit is good for you – rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Dairy is full of protein and calcium. So some simple carbs are not bad to add to your diet.
When talking about complex carbs, you generally refer to foods such as pasta, bread, rice and most cereals. But fortunately we live in an age where there are healthier options readily available and easily accessible such as choosing whole grains, brown rice, wholemeal bread, lentils, chickpeas etc. And even better, it is as easy as walking into your local Dischem or health foods store (and most of your larger superstores with a healthy foods aisle) to find a substitute for most complex carbs. These healthier options include Superlite Shitake Noodles, Zero Noodles, as well as Creeds and Almonds bread mix. But there are loads of options available. Just always check the package to know what’s inside and that nothing is hidden in the jargon. Complex carbs are also found in green vegetables and starchy vegetables, along with peas and beans.
Well now that we have a good idea of what carbohydrates are, I look forward to talking about a low carb lifestyle in my next entry.
I’ll blog back soon.