The Scoop on Carbs

Google “carbohydrates” and you will be inundated with search results.  Many of the findings will give conflicting evidence either for or against carbohydrate intake in regards to weight loss.

What I can tell you is that a food’s fat and fiber content tends to lower the glycemic index (GI)-sugar content- of a food, which positively affects weight loss.  Carbs can be labeled either simple or complex, meaning how quickly they turn to sugar and other nutritional content.  In general, most complex carbs have fiber, minerals, and vitamins to slow down digestion.  For example, when you eat a candy bar, the sugar goes “right through you” and you feel an immediate sugar rush or high.  This is the same thing that happens when you eat simple carbohydrates because there’s no added “content” to slow down the digestion process.  (White bread and white potatoes are starches, which we will discuss in another post!)

Labeling foods according to their affect on the body and impact on weight loss is best done through the glycemic index. Although I am in America, the Australian labeling system is more accurate in defining and categorizing the body’s response to carbohydrates.  I’m going to quote directly from a Harvard study here:

“The glycemic index ranks carbohydrates on a scale from 0 to 100 based on how quickly and how much they raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, are rapidly digested and cause substantial fluctuations in blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index, like whole oats, are digested more slowly, prompting a more gradual rise in blood sugar.

Many factors can affect a food’s glycemic index, including the following:

  • Processing: Grains that have been milled and refined—removing the bran and the germ—have a higher glycemic index than minimally processed whole grains.
  • Physical form: Finely ground grain is more rapidly digested than coarsely ground grain. This is why eating whole grains in their “whole form” like brown rice or oats can be healthier than eating highly processed whole grain bread.
  • Fiber content: High-fiber foods don’t contain as much digestible carbohydrate, so it slows the rate of digestion and causes a more gradual and lower rise in blood sugar.
  • Ripeness: Ripe fruits and vegetables tend to have a higher glycemic index than un-ripened fruit.
  • Fat content and acid content: Meals with fat or acid are converted more slowly into sugar.”

Next, I found a clinical study very interesting on the interaction between carbs and fats in foods.  Since I know that the GAPS diet is very food-specific, through this study I was able to see how this aspect in GAPS led to drastic weight loss.  A low GI has a ratio of about 40% carbs and 35% fat, which “produced a greater decrease in weight and body fat percentage” than just eating “low fat” foods.  Furthermore, “reducing glycemic load may be especially important to achieve weight loss among individuals with high insulin secretion.”  High insulin secretion is not a good thing; your body is fighting too hard to keep a healthy balance.  Consequentially, most people who crave carbs have higher levels of insulin secretion.

Another clinical study confirmed that “a modest reduction in dietary carbohydrate has beneficial effects on body composition, fat distribution, and glucose metabolism.”  Eating lower-carbohydrate and higher fat foods actually reduces belly and intermuscular fat, with an added bonus of increasing “insulin sensitivity,” (which is good!).  Try cutting your simple carbs down to half, and you will see weight loss results!

If you want to control your cravings/appetite AND lose weight, eat more proteins paired with low GI foods.  Remember, bone broth is 50% protein and full of healthy fats!  Throw some low starch/carb veggies in it and you’re all set for many hours!


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