Smart Carbs: Understanding the Glycemic Index

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Carisma - cutting the GI of potatoes. The Good Gut Cookbook Loving this update of the original. Department of Health and Human Services. A handy desk go-to reference. It's soft, nice to eat and easy to swallow. In reality, certain carbohydrates, sometimes referred to as "smart carbohydrates," actually support health, keep energy levels high and help in maintaining weight, according to the U.


When your body enters ketosis, it switches to depending on carbs for energy to burning fats for fuel. The glycemic index measures how quickly food raises your blood sugar. Foods are ranked on a scale of 0 to , with pure glucose sugar given a value of Fast-burning carbs simple carbs are high on the GI scale and our bodies often crave these types of carbs when blood sugar levels are low because they result in immediate energy. Slow-burning carbs complex carbs are lower on the glycemic index and keep your blood sugar more level over time, i.

If you want to feel healthy and energized, start by focussing on slow-burning carbs because they are low on the GI scale and will help you control your appetite and avoid sugar crashes throughout the day. Fast-burning carbs will do just the opposite by provoking hunger sensations and mood swings.

Here are some common carb-based foods and where they land on the GI scale:. Also, if fast-burning is what you need, opt for healthier sources like fruits.

Here are some ways to get there:. Analyzing every single meal can be an enormous chore, so do your best to start tracking your diet and eliminating high GI foods as often as possible. When you do eat them, try to mix them with very low GI foods. Eventually, your GI maintenance will become automatic. Your body had to call on more insulin and so another gram or two of fat has been laid down. This means that a couple of hours later, you're hungry again, and looking for a quick snack to carry you over to the next meal.

What this means is that dieters would do better on whole grain or low GI versions of any carbohydrate - grainy bread, brown rice, jacket potato with the skin plus pasta, legumes and starchy vegetables.

Here's what you should look for when deciding what to buy in breads, cereals, rice, pasta, savoury biscuits or muesli bars. Here are the smart carbs from every nutritionist's list. Try to select carbs from the top which are healthier choices and better for weight loss. There's no need to cut out ALL carbs. Take a look at what carbs you like to eat and which are the good ones to keep. You may love bread but don't care too much for rice or potato.

Or you may simply cut down the SIZE of the all the carbohydrate portions you serve:. Look at the bread you regularly buy. If it's white, it's not as filling or nutritious as a good grainy loaf or chewy wholemeal bread. Swap your breakfast cereal from one made from oats muesli or porridge or whole wheat wheatflake biscuits, wheat flakes or bran all-bran, bran flakes.

A bowl at breakfast is convenient and healthy and will keep your bowels working well. Check how much potato and rice you serve up for dinner. One medium potato or half a cup of rice should balance out your meal without overloading you with carbs. Certain vegetables contain higher carbohydrate values but are still nutritious. Just have a small serve of pumpkin, carrots, corn and peas.

Include two pieces of fruit a day. Skip juice which has had its fibre removed and is too easy to overconsume. Drink water and eat the whole fruit instead. Counting carbs for healthy weight loss. Carisma - cutting the GI of potatoes. Dietary Guidelines revision Don't miss a post.

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Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right!

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What are fast-burning carbs?