If you are very new to Nutrition you may wish to read ‘An Introduction to Nutrition’ first!
Carbohydrates and the effect of Insulin
Have you ever heard people say ‘Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does!’?
Well, it is true to an extent but it’s not only excessive Sugars that makes you fat, but other carbohydrates can also as well.
Eating certain types of Carbohydrates in isolation can cause us to store fat around our middles!
Weight gain can be caused by many factors and can often be difficult to determine. But beyond calorie intake, there are several other factors to consider including the effects of Insulin!
The Science Bit
High GI Carbohydrates make our blood sugar spike which pushes the fat into the cells. If this happens repeatedly the cells become insulin resistant. When this happens cells no longer respond to insulin and the pancreases increases production so that insulin levels become higher than normal.
This increases the likelihood of further weight gain.
What do we mean by GI (Glycaemic Index)?
All foods have a GI. This is the rate at which the food turns into Glucose. Some foods are fast release and some slow release.
Glucose has a GI of 100 and is used when energy needs to be used quickly.
Blood sugar management is imperative if the fat storing effects of insulin are to be controlled.
It is commonly accepted that sugars and syrups are detrimental to health and exacerbate weight problems, however, a review of the Glycemic index shows that show clearly that some other sources of carbohydrates upset blood glucose as well.
- low GI (less than 55) – soy products, beans, fruit, milk, pasta, grainy bread, porridge, and lentils.
- medium GI (55 to 70) – orange juice, honey, basmati rice and wholemeal bread.
- high GI (greater than 70) – potatoes, white bread and short-grain rice, sugar and sugary foods, sugary soft drinks
Other useful resources may include – www.diabetes.org.uk
Foods to monitor include
bread, bagels, crumpets, baguettes, rolls, pizza, pastries, croissants, buns, pasta, breakfast cereals and cereal bars, chips, crisps, yams, biscuits, sweets etc
Personally, I would reduce or cut out highly processed carbohydrates, that do not contain natural vitamins and minerals!
Everything can be eaten, but it’s all about finding balance and giving the body what it needs to be satisfied – vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrate, fat and water!!
Fructose and Fruit
Please take note that fructose has a LOW GI, it has a slow release sugar and therefore will not spike insulin levels like high GI foods. However, care should still be taken with eating fruit. It should be eaten as part of a healthy balanced Diet as some fruits can be a lot higher in sugar than others!
When to eat Fruit
I would also recommend eating fresh fruit on its own, or at least 15 minutes before any other foods. Fruit likes to digest faster than any other food and if eaten with other foods or as a dessert, it can cause stomach ache and bloating.
Dried fruit digests better with other foods than fresh fruit.
Higher Sugar Fruits
Be careful with higher sugar fruits as these can still boost insulin too much:
High sugar fruits include dates, grapes, bananas, mangoes, apples, pears and plums.
Low GI foods
We can naturally lower the GI of food to an extent by mixing it with fat, fibre or protein as this will act as a sponge and releases the sugars into the system slowly. (another reason to eat a balanced diet)
It is also important to note that the way of cooking foods will also change its GI!
For example, the GI of a roasted potato (white or sweet) will be much higher than that of a steamed or boiled potato.
Eat as much as you like!
There are still many sources of non-starchy carbohydrate that can be eaten freely and these will provide vitamins minerals and fibre (which allows the body to absorb what it needs ).
The following list provides some good guidance for good carbohydrate options –
- Green leafy vegetables eg spinach, dark lettuce, kale, collard.
- Brassicas eg cauliflower broccoli, cabbage, swede turnip, brussels sprouts, onions leeks, peppers, celery, mushrooms, peas, courgette, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, olives.
- Fruits eg: avocado, grapefruit, melons, cantaloupe, papaya, peaches, apricots, lemons, limes and berry’s of all varieties
Carbohydrates are ‘Good’!
We do NEED carbohydrate so please do not cut it out altogether.
(you can see why in my blog on carbohydrates)
AND a GI spike can also be very helpful at times, for example before or after exercise!
Be Mindful and Listen to your body!
Give your body the energy, minerals, and vitamins it needs to look, feel and perform to the best it can!
If your body is not working well, the last thing it will want to do is burn fat!
If you want to understand your body and reach your needs and goals long term please feel free to book in for Private Coaching.
It is not a one rule fit all approach. Our eating habits and history differ dramatically and therefore so do our body’s and our goals!