28 Mar Carbs 101
Popular low-carb diets like Zone, Atkins, South Beach, and Paleo limit the intake of carbs yet I don’t believe that many people understand what they are or if they are really good/bad for you. As I watched a recent television infomercial (yes I was up late one night) and saw the amount of misinformation that was being spewed, I felt compelled to “set the story straight”.
Carbohydrates can be a very confusing subject to most, yet it doesn’t have to be. Carbs are found in foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, pastries, and candy and are considered the bodies preferred energy source. More specifically, carbs are sugar molecules either standing alone or bound together to in groups. (Simple meaning one sugar molecule and complex meaning multiple sugar molecules bound together.) The more molecules, the more complex it becomes. The simpler a carb is, the quicker it can be absorbed by your body and either used for energy or stored as fat. Fiber is the most complex form of carb found in our diets, while sucrose (fructose and glucose) are the simplest carbs.
Carbs are classified in many different ways:
- healthy vs. unhealthy
- good vs. bad
- slow vs. fast
- simple vs. complex
These all mean the same thing in one way or another, which is why so many people are like a deer in the headlights when they hear the word CARB!
When a carbohydrate is “simple” it refers to carbs that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream because of their simple molecular structure. Complex carbs are a more complex molecular structure and can take longer for the body to break down into sugar. (grains and veggies).
To better control your blood sugar levels which in turn will help decrease your risk of Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Immune Weakness, Weight gain, etc., we need to limit the amount of foods that are simple carbs or those that convert to simple carbs easily in the body. Other than foods like fruit juice, sugary fruits (bananas), etc. we also need to avoid starchy foods. Starches are found in most processed/boxed/packaged foods such as; pasta, breads, deserts, cereals and are found in potatoes and rice.
Starches start being broken down almost as soon as you eat them. Your body secretes the enzyme amylase in your mouth the minute you start eating starchy foods. This enzyme is designed to break starches down into sugar so your body can absorb the energy (sugar) contained within. In the “old days” our starches were all whole foods (grains that were unprocessed, rice that wasn’t stripped of its fiber and then bleached, and potatoes that still had the skin on, etc.). We have become a processed food eating culture and sugar containing foods and a high starch diet (breads, pasta, rice and potatoes) are making us unhealthier than ever; obesity rates are still rising, heart disease is still the #1 killer, diabetes is one of the top 3 killing diseases.
Other than avoiding simple carbs and starches, there really aren’t many other choices for people. I have yet to find any one ingredient to help block or do a great job at inhibiting sugar from being absorbed after you consume it. I have found an ingredient that will help with our starch-addiction and the negative impact it has on blood sugar levels and our waistlines: Phase 2. Phase 2 is a specific extract from a white kidney bean that has scientifically shown to inhibit the enzyme amylase from breaking starches down into sugar. In fact the research shows that it can inhibit up to 2/3rds of the caloric effect of starches in your diet. Studies have shown it helps with weight loss programs, maintaining weight loss and over time help curb your cravings for sweets. If you struggle with carbs (especially starchy carbs like me), then taking Phase 2 prior to any meals or snacks that contain starchy-carbs will help negate up to 2/3rds of the harmful effects of those foods. For me, it is snack time if I have chips or pretzels in my house (try not to even buy them) or when I eat out (I travel a ton) that Phase 2 makes it into my supplement program. For most of you reading this, Phase 2 may need to be a part of your daily regimen because you have a diet high in breads, pasta, rice and potatoes. Be sure to take it 20-30 minutes prior to your starchy meals and snacks to achieve the full benefits of Phase 2.