Step seven in your weight loss journey: Nutrition basics, Carbohydrates
If you missed our last articles, Step one in weight loss: Ditch the sugar, Step two: Take a break, Step three in weight loss: it’s very fluid, Step 4: move it move it, Step 5: Low Carb, and Step 6: Fatty Business read them [here].
As discussed, and contrary to what doctors and scientists, as well as governments, have been telling us since the 1950’s we now know that it’s not dietary fat that is making us fat and sick, it is simply the carbohydrates. These are making our Blood Sugar spike and along with it taking our insulin levels on a roller coaster ride, causing all sorts of hormone imbalances and associated autoimmune responses and thereof, many modern, chronic lifestyle diseases.
So what are carbohydrates and more specifically what are simple carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates are sugars, starches and dietary fibers. All are a combination of simple sugar molecules known as monosaccharides (mono implying one sugar molecule). We already know that glucose (blood sugar) is a simple sugar, (monosaccharide). Table sugar however is made up of 2 simple sugars, glucose and fructose and is therefore called a disaccharide (di = two).
Starches and dietary fibers are made up of long chains of many, sometimes thousands of simple sugar molecules and are therefore known as polysaccharides (poly = many).
Carbohydrates are produced by plants during photosynthesis. When the food industry refines plant foods such as making sugar out of sugar cane or flour out of wheat, with modern technology, they do that so efficiently that only the simplest of carbohydrates remain in processed sugars, flours and starches. All the complex carbohydrates (polysaccharides) have been removed or reduced, taking out most of the nutrients and leaving mainly the calories. Nutrition science, therefore, refers to these as empty calories.
With the above distinction, it becomes clear that not all carbohydrates are bad, in fact, most complex carbohydrates are very healthy and contain a lot of essential nutrients and fibers.
It is simple carbohydrates that must be avoided. Unfortunately, modern diets of processed, prepared, and fast foods contain loads of simple carbohydrates.
Nutrition labelling on supermarket products is confusing to most and will only tell you “Total Carbohydrates”, “Dietary Fiber” and possibly “Sugar” content.
It is important to know that carbohydrates in the form of dietary fibers are very good for you and will help you lose weight and they have no calories as they do not get digested and absorbed but rather feed your gut microbiome. We should all get 30 grams of dietary fibers daily. For the purposes of calculating “Net Carbohydrates”, “Dietary Fiber" can be deducted from “Total Carbohydrates”.
It is also important to know (for later calculations) that carbohydrates provide energy to the tune of 4 kilocalories per gram. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy and have a protein-sparing effect.
To find out if a food can be considered a simple carb, scientists have devised the Glycemic Index (GI), a relative ranking of how fast a food will spike your blood sugar compared to the same weight of glucose (100g glucose = GI100). This is great to see if foods are low or high carb. Better yet, if you search for the Glycemic Load (GL) of food, this will not compare statically against 100g of glucose but will take into account a typical serving size also. So go ahead and google the GL of the foods you eat to give you an idea if they’re Low or High Carb.
It now becomes clear that we need to steer clear of food containing simple carbohydrates as often as possible. Some examples are Sugar, white Pasta, white bread, processed foods or prepackaged foods, fast foods and everything made of highly processed (white) meals and flours.
At our Shambhalife keto weight loss resort on the island of Koh Chang in Thailand, we calculate the exact amount of Net Carbohydrates for every course of every meal and for every guest to ensure the perfect macronutrient balance throughout the retreat to maximize weight loss during the stay.
Now that you know more about carbohydrates and their Glycemic effect it will be even easier for you to remain Low Carb to accelerate your weight loss further. After a while, it will become second nature to you and you will get a feeling for High and Low GL foods and automatically make smart choices.
Continue with us on the weight loss journey by exploring more macronutrients in our next session all of which are basic knowledge requirements to kick our weight loss into overdrive by learning how to go full keto.