Hello, I hope everyone has been keeping up with the recommendations for diet and health management? Today, we have a new and interesting topic to discuss, which is also a very crucial part of our day-to-day diet. It is Carbohydrate. We often feel confused figuring out what carbohydrate to eat and how much, and have been a victim to food fads and myths? Today we will burst some myths and perhaps put a full stop to the confusions.
Carbohydrates or carbs are the prime source of energy for our body, a gram of carbohydrate provides 4 kcal of energy. Carbs form a part of every food item be it fruits, vegetables, breads, pasta, rice and dairy products. Even I was surprised to know that from a complete Indian platter, 50 to 60% calorie comes from carbohydrates. Generally, we can classify carbohydrates into simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple ones are those which get absorbed by the body very fast and causes a spike in blood sugar levels after having it : sugar, corn syrup, starch, fruit juice concentrate, etc. Complex carbohydrates are those that gets absorbed slowly into the body after consumption.
A term which is most commonly associated with Carbohydrates is ‘Glycemic Index’. Now what is ‘Glycemic Index’, have you ever heard of it before? Well, Glycemic Index is a way that carbohydrates in foods and drinks are ranked according to how quickly they raise the glucose levels in the blood. Based on the classification of Carbohydrates; complex carbohydrates have a low glycemic index than simple carbohydrates. So, it is wise to generally opt for complex carbs.
A very important information which most of the us miss out on, are the ‘Hidden Sugars’ in our food. Never miss out on the hidden sugar in a plate. Shocking isn’t it? Foods like salad dressing, yogurt, bread, spaghetti sauce have sugars added in it. Added sugars mean added carbs. To spot them, we should check the ingredients list for words ending in “ose” (such as fructose or maltose) and any name that includes “syrup” or “juice.”
We have all been a prey to myths surrounding Carbohydrates like: Carbohydrates are bad for diabetics, haven’t we? Well, Carbs are the foundation of a healthy diet, whether the person is a diabetic or not. They do affect our blood sugar levels, which is why we need to keep up with how much is consumed each day. We should choose the carbs which have vitamins, minerals, and fiber: such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, starchy and sugary carbs are not a great choice because they have less to offer. They are more like a flash in the pan than fuel for our body to rely on.
There has been a rising trend of following many new and different types of diets which are propagated by Social Media Influences like, the keto diet, intermittent fasting and liquid diets. We should not be giving in to such trends. There is also a notion that proteins are better than carbs for diabetics. Let us see what we can learn about them. Carbs do affect blood sugar levels so we are tempted to eat less of them and substitute more protein, but we should choose our protein carefully. If it comes with too much saturated fat, it is risky for our heart’s health, it burdens the kidneys too. We should keep an eye on the portion size too. We should consult the dietitian or doctor about how much protein is right for us.
A couple of rotis/chapati or a bowlful of rice is a staple for every Indian, but undoubtedly both the roti and rice have their fair share of carbs. The quantity consumed matters rather than what we choose to eat. There is no need to restrict carbohydrates completely, better is to alter the carbohydrate intake. Watch my YouTube video with just a click on which is best: Roti or Rice?? We should keep a count on our carbs. Carb intake between 20–90 grams per day has been shown to be effective at improving blood sugar management among diabetics. However, it’s best to test blood sugar before and after eating to find the personal carb limit. As a part of diabetes management plan, it is healthy to count carbs which helps in the following aspects:
- Stay healthy longer.
- Feel better and improve the quality of life.
- Prevent or delay diabetes complications such as kidney disease, eye disease, heart disease, and stroke.
The optimal carb intake for diabetes management requires testing the blood sugar and making adjustments as needed based on the response, but there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone. Personalized meal plans, which take into account the dietary preferences and metabolic goals, are best. We should construct a meal plan to manage diabetes with carbs evenly over three meals. Each meal should contain a balance of protein, healthy fats, and a small amount of carbs, mostly from vegetables.
Hope I have succeeded in clearing most of the confusions. Do let me know your thoughts on carbohydrate intake in the comments below. Living healthy in diabetes is an Art. Want to learn the easiest way to keep yourself protected from diabetes? Want to know more such interesting facts on nutrition in a diabetic life? join my ongoing educational course, Art of Living with Diabetes today and empower yourself with knowledge to beat diabetes.