Carbohydrates: What’s good and what’s bad?
At our “Supplement and Healthy Lifestyle Night” on Wednesday, we really tried to stress the fact that if you’re serious about losing weight, you really need to watch the kinds and amounts of carbohydrates you eat. Poor carbohydrate choices completely shut down your body’s fat burning process, and eventually create a vicious cycle of cravings and weight gain.
The first two questions we receive are:
- How many carbohydrates should I eat per day?
- How do I know a good carbohydrate from a bad one?
The first question is easy. If you look in the packet we handed out that night, you’ll see the macronutrient breakdown we recommend you START at. As you progress each week, you may have to play around with the amount of carbohydrates you eat each day. Some people are much more sensitive to carbohydrates than others. Thus, those people who are (which are usually women) extremely sensitive to carbohydrates may need much less than they originally started with. One of the most important components of our healthy lifestyle program is finding your carbohydrate set point: the amount of carbohydrates you can eat each day and still lose weight, yet also feel great.
The 2nd question is a little tougher. However, two things can help us choose wisely: the glycemic index (GI) and the glucose load (GL). The GI scores carbohydrates on the rate they increase blood sugar after they have been eaten. It’s a 100 point scale. A GI score of over 70 is considered high (avoid these) and a GI score of less than 55 is low (consume these). Although the GI is much more prevalent, it has one significant problem in the real world: it doesn’t look at portion sizes at all.
The GL does. It tells you how many carbohydrates are in each serving. So even though carrots may have a moderate GI value, its GL value is actually low because they don’t contain a large amount of carbohydrates in each serving. Thus, if possible, always look at the GL instead of the GI. A glucose load of 20 is considered high (avoid these) and a glucose load of less than 10 is considered low (eat these).
Here’s a great site that lists the GI and GL values for all kinds of carbohydrates. After a week of looking up your food choices, you’ll have their GI and GL values memorized.
If possible use the glucose load as the determining factor. If it has a GL of 20 or more, avoid it. If it has a GL of 10 or less, eat it. The middle ground is considered gray area so be careful,
If you can’t find the GL, use the GI. Avoid carbohydrates over 70 and eat carbohydrates under 55.