Good carbohydrates are a major key to a optimal nutrition program. Good carbohydrates are essential to keeping insulin levels down in the healthy range. Eating good carbohydrates takes discipline and knowledge, because it is really easy to find yourself eating the bad carbohydrates if you are not careful as the bad carbs tend to be concentrated in convenient foods.
As we stated in a previous post carbohydrates are the main energy source the body runs on. Carbohydrates are organic compounds (those that contain carbon). Consume carbohydrates that will impact insulin minimally. That means eating carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load.
There are several websites available that you can use to determine the glycemic index of a given carbohydrate. One such site is www.glycemicindex.com. Books like Sugar Busters! and The New Glucose Revolution provide the glycemic index and loads of many carbohydrates.
Glycemic index (GI): refers to the rate at which a carbohydrate is broken down and absorbed as glucose in the blood. The index goes from 1-100. The lower the number the healthier is the carbohydrate. Glucose itself has an index of 100. The glycemic index is based on consuming 50 grams of carbohydrate.
Glycemic load (GL): refers to the total amount of glucose that enters the blood after breakdown of a carbohydrate and determines how much insulin must be released. Again, you want to keep insulin levels low as possible. The glycemic load takes into account how many grams of carbohydrate are actually in a typical serving. For instance, watermelon has a relatively high glycemic index of 72, but in a typical serving it contains very few grams since it is mostly water and has a healthy glycemic load of 4.
At the end of the day the glycemic load is probably the most useful measure to base decisions upon.
The first two to four weeks do your best to eat carbohydrates with a glycemic index less than 55 and glycemic load of less than 10. If you need to lose several pounds then be stricter and eat only carbohydrates with glycemic indexes less than 40. Examples of good carbohydrates and their glycemic indexes and glycemic loads are found below.
Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
|Food||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load|
|Long grain white rice||44||16|
|Honey (100% floral)||35||6|
Low glycemic foods: those with GI under 55 (these are your good carbohydrates)
Medium glycemic foods: those with GI between 56-69
High glycemic foods: those with GI above 70
The first two to six weeks eat only low glycemic carbs. After that “induction” period you can re-introduce medium glycemic foods, but if you have diabetes or really struggle with your weight focus primarily on low glycemic carbohydrates at all times saving medium glycemic foods for your “cheat day”.
In general, avoid white bread, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes which are all high glycemic. However, they do have healthier cousins like brown rice, sweet potatoes, wheat pasta and sourdough bread which are low to medium glycemic.
So that’s good carbohydrates in a nutshell!