There are two types of carbs, simple and complex. Which type of carb the food in is determined by its chemical structure. Simple carbs such as sugar, juice, soda, candy etc. are broken down, digested, and absorbed very quickly. Thus these kinds of carbs give you quick energy boosts that cause you to crash shortly after. Complex carbs (ie. the better ones) such as oatmeal, vegetables, legumes take longer to digest as they are packed with vitamins, fiber and minerals. The rate at which it takes you to digest these foods is important as it impacts your blood insulin levels. The glycemic index (GI) is a helpful tool that is used to classify carbs on how they impact insulin levels. Before moving on I just want to clarify that simple carbs are usually processed carbs that lack nutritional value. These have been found to increase risk of heart disease and diabetes. On the other side of the scale are complex carbs which have the opposite affect. These carbs are usually unprocessed and are packed with important nutrients.
High glycemic index means the carb breaks down quickly during the digestion process. Quick digestion means glucose is released rapidly into the bloodstream (causing a spike in insulin levels). Spikes and dips of insulin levels is not optimal for weight loss. Maintaining a steady insulin level throughout the day is best for weight loss and overall health. Common high GI foods include white bread, white rice, sugary and highly processed foods.
Low glycemic index means the carb breaks down more slowly during the digestion process therefore glucose is more gradually being released into the bloodstream, avoiding spikes and dips of insulin. Common low GI foods include vegetables, fruits and beans.
To sum it all up:
High GI ==> bad for you for many reasons (try and avoid as best as you can) Low GI ==> good for you for many reasons (eat!!! (but not too much, anything in excess is bad))
However, if you are going to indulge on some high GI foods, do it post workout!
- EAT LEAN PROTEIN, LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX CARBS, HEALTHY FATS, AND LOTS OF FIBER!
- Brown Rice
- Sweet potatoes/ Yams
- Whole grain foods