It is worth the effort to learn carbohydrate counting. The impact it will have on your control and your life is unbounded. Carbohydrate counting is easy once you learn how. First, let us learn what carbohydrates are.
Carbohydrates are what our bodies need for fuel. A healthy diet would come from high carbohydrate foods such as fruits and vegetables, grains (such as breads, pasta and cereals), root crops (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams), low or nonfat milk and yogurt. The vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein found in these high nutrient foods allow glucose to be processed correctly, hence being lower on the glycemic index.
Stay away from low nutrient foods such as regular soda and candy. They still contain carbohydrates, but lack other nutrients your body needs for good health. Because these foods contain simple sugar, they are high on the glycemic index and are likely to cause blood sugar to rise.
Understanding the Glycemic Index
The glycemic index describes the effects different carbohydrates have on our bodies. Low carb foods produce a small fluctuation in blood glucose and insulin levels. Whereas, high carb foods produce higher blood glucose levels, adding to the amount of insulin you body will need. Some benefits to staying on a low GI diet include:
- Weight loss
- Improved control over diabetes
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced blood cholesterol level
- Reduce hunger, leaving you feeling fuller longer
- Re-fuel carbohydrates after exercise
A high glycemic food ranks 70 or more on the index. A medium glycemic food ranks between 56 and 69 on the index, and a low glycemic food clocks in at 55 or under. Keeping these figures in mind will help you on the road to a healthier life.
Hypoglycemia is a clinical syndrome resulting from low blood sugar. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person but can include hunger, sweating, confusion, increased pulse rate, lightheadedness and apprehension. These symptoms usually occur directly after a person eats too many simple carbohydrates, and the body responds with too much insulin.
Consume Complex Carbs and Shun Simple Carbs
Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down, allowing glucose to enter the blood at a slower rate. Avoid simple carbohydrates at all cost.
Eat High Fiber Foods
High fiber foods slow the absorption of sugar, helping to regulate blood sugar. Some high fiber foods include:
- whole grains
Eat in Moderation Frequently
Frequent meals are important in maintaining normal glucose in the blood. Six small meals (plus a healthy snack if needed) will help combat hypoglycemia.
Understanding Carbohydrate Counting
No, you do not have to memorize the amount of carbs in everything you eat. Most packaged foods have a nutrition fact label, which will tell you the total carbohydrates. If you eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, you can find the carb information either in books or online.
A combination of carbohydrate counting, diet and nutrition are essential rules to live by for living a healthy life. It is also essential to know how many carbohydrates your body needs each day. This is based on your daily calorie need. If you are overweight, a 10% weight loss is ideal. Along with diet and exercise, knowing how many carbs is in different kinds of foods you eat is a system that will give you more flexibility.