(BeWellBuzz) Carbohydrates got a bad rap in the past decade, but if we were all eating broccoli, All-Bran and sprouted wheat bread with our grass-fed beef, would we have an obesity problem? The most dangerous carbs are those refined, processed, starchy or filled with sugar, providing little-to-no fiber, which absorb rapidly into your blood stream as glucose and offer no nourishment. It’s no wonder our cells get ticked off at insulin! To them it’s like getting a big long “spam” email with tons and tons of text and meaningless babble, with maybe one sentence of useful information. For the most part, I’ll never get to that sentence. I’ll just ignore the message and, ever after, delete anything coming from the same sender. That’s basically how our cells have reacted to the bombardment of insulin, showing up again and again to deliver an unsatisfying meal. The insulin is screaming out, “I got energy, come n get it!” But when the cells look at the hormone, they figure it’s just spam like the last time. “No thank you, Mr. Insulin, we’re not having what’s on your menu today.” Pretty soon, the cells don’t even hear Mr. Insulin anymore, in fact, the cell receptors become literally dull.
This is juicy good information if you like scientific proof. Otherwise you can skip to the next section. But it may be good just to know these terms so the confusing headlines don’t throw you off.
I wrote in a previous article about the difference between Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL). In short, the GI indicates how quickly an ingested food will absorb into your bloodstream and, thus, how quickly your blood glucose will rise. The faster the absorption the quicker the sugar spike and the higher the food’s index rating. Conversely, the more fiber and nutrients, the longer it takes our bodies to break carbs down into glucose. Slower breakdown means lower blood sugar and a minimal amount of insulin. Remember, too much insulin floating around over time will eventually lead to insulin resistance causing weight gain, diabetes II, heart disease, even cancer, and we’re still finding out more detriments of this condition.
Glycemic Index Ratings
- High: > 70
- Medium: 55-69
- Low: <55
Though it had some popularity for a time, the GI alone isn’t a good method for making smart food choices. The index indicates carbohydrate quality, but ignores quantity. To be of any use, both q’s really need to be taken into account. For example, watermelon looks bad from the GI perspective with an index of 72. Meanwhile, sweetened condensed milk scores lower at 61. Stop the press. Sweetened condensed milk…healthier and less fattening than watermelon?? Of course not. The GL or really the eGL (estimated glycemic load) helps to explain this difference, and gives us a better read on which carbohydrate-rich food is the healthier choice.
Glycemic Load Ratings: These ratings are designed to help you make smart food choices by letting you know how the food will affect your blood sugar levels. The idea is to primarily eat foods that score low, then moderately enjoy the medium group, and avoid foods that score high.
- High: > 20
- Medium: 11-19
- Low: < 10
Good To Know! Proteins and fats without carbs, like eggs or coconut oil, either have a negligible or else a zero zilch effect on blood sugar; hence, there are no GI/eGL ratings for these. Their rating would be 0.
With the watermelon, its glucose absorbs into the bloodstream quickly, but there are very few carbs overall. Its effect on blood sugar is minimal and unlikely to have an “insulinogenic” effect. The eGL for watermelon is 4.
Conversely, the sweetened condensed milk for a sizeable serving has a heavy carb “load” and causes a sugar surge. Its eGL is a spiking 83. Now we’re talking sense.
At the end of the day, the eGL has been a helpful eye-opener, and can be referred to if you’re wondering about a particular food, provided the food has been tested. But the key to doing this without thinking too hard is to stay away from “simple” carbs, and go for the “complex” carbs rich in fiber, taking into account that when you eat them along with protein and healthy fats the rate of digestion/absorption slows, decreasing the effect of carbs on blood sugar. Unless you live a sedentary life, carbs are good for you and can help you stay energized and burn fat.
Ditch or Make the Switch
There are a few notable experts offering herbal supplements, quick meal replacements and some great advice. You might check out the Real Dose supplement or Dr. Pompa (especially if you’re severely insulin resistant, overweight, have diabetes II or suspect you have a thyroid problem). I also highly recommend Nick Pineault (superior resources for keeping it simple and turning your health around through diet/nutrition, with tips, cookbooks, charts and all) and BioTrust. The latter two are my primary sources for the following food recommendations.
So for today, here’s a quick list of carbs to ditch and ones you can immediately switch to and stop the sugar rush.
- 100% Whole Wheat Bread
- Commercial Salad Dressings
- All Natural Peanut Butter
- Granola, Snack and most Protein Bars
- Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners in Your Coffee, etc.
- Potato Chips
- Candy including milk chocolate
These goodies have a lower eGL than their counterpart, and will help to woo your cells back to sensitivity.
- Sprouted Whole Grain Flourless Bread, eg Ezekiel 4:9 Bread
- Homemade Salad Dressings made with Unrefined Olive, Sesame or Coconut Oil and Apple Cider or Balsamic Vinegar (Pineault has fantastic healthy, rich salad dressing recipes)
- Organic Raw Almond Butter by Maranatha
- Raw Food Bars, eg BioTrust Organic Protein Bars
- Raw Organic Honey, Stevia or Coconut Nectar (in moderation)
- Fresh Popcorn dressed with sea salt and olive or coconut oil (and not microwaved!)
- Organic Dark Chocolate, at least 70% Cocoa
Finally, there are some other things you can do that will begin to heighten insulin sensitivity, maximize fat burning and show much love to your body. Check these out:
- Cinnamon has been proven to help keep blood sugar levels balanced. Sprinkle it in your coffee, on your flourless pancakes and in your oatmeal. Enjoy plentifully. Some are even using cinnamon to prevent and even help treat Diabetes II.
- Studies show the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is powerful for burning fat, building muscle and increasing insulin sensitivity. One study spearheaded by Michael Mosley showed a 24% increase in sensitivity in only 4 weeks of regular HIIT. That’s an amazing turnaround in one month! Read more about HIIT here.
- Increase fiber intake.
- Limit fructose in your diet! This one’s a real zinger. We’re not talking about ditching apples here. We’re mostly talking about limiting or eliminating processed foods with added fructose. Fructose is shown to hinder messaging to the brain that you’ve just eaten, and should stop. Instead, appetite remains stimulated and fat storing has a heyday.
- Eat raw nuts and seeds and plenty of omega-3s to satisfy your cells’ hunger pangs, nourish your body and quiet the hunger hormone (ghrelin).
- Eat organic whole free range eggs. These are a superfood. They help build muscle, provide vitamin A, potassium and B vitamins, healthy fat and more. But don’t scramble ‘em. Cooking them completely will burn off much of their nutrient value. The more raw the better, although sunny side up, poached or over-easy will do, too. You can also put raw eggs in your shake for a little fluff and really no change in flavor. Just don’t ditch the yellow, almost all the health benefits are in the yoke!
- Eat organic grass-fed beef and free range organic chicken.
- And of course eat a nice variety of fresh veggies, getting in all the colors, green, yellow, red and orange.
So isn’t nice that we don’t have to hate bread, popcorn or even chocolate?! Our food motto should always be: enjoy. And, keep it simple.
 The Truth About Condiments, Snacks & Seasonings, by Nick Pineault