When it comes to maximizing your energy levels, carbohydrates are the best “go” food around. Think of carbohydrates as gas in your fuel tank. If you don’t provide yourself with carbohydrates throughout the day, you simply won’t have the energy to function. Now this would be a shame for new moms who definitely don’t have much of an energy reserve and who have one or more little kids relying on them for just about everything.
Everything we eat is made up of some combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Simple sugars, like table sugar, starches, like pasta, and fibre, like oat bran, are types of dietary carbohydrates. All carbohydrates deliver four calories per gram. Something to digest: All carbohydrates are not bad! Carbohydrates are vital because they provide the body with the energy it needs to support daily activities-from breathing and digestion to thinking and exercise. Consuming whole grain and high fibre carbohydrates, including fruits, veggies, dried beans, and whole grain cereals, breads and crackers will make you feel satisfied for longer periods of time than foods high in refined sugar and low in fibre (i.e. cakes, cookies, sugary candy, etc.). Foods high in fibre expand in your digestive tract making you feel full. To visualize how fibre can expand, put a piece of whole grain or bran cereal in a bowl with a little water then watch it swell to two to three times its original size. This makes it very clear how fibre can help make us feel fuller.
Why do people count carbs? In general, carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly while fat and protein cause blood sugar to rise more slowly. In response to a rise in blood sugar, the body releases insulin, the hormone required to bring blood sugar into cells or fat tissue. If one eats excessive amounts of carbohydrates, the insulin cycle can become imbalanced, resulting in continually raised insulin levels. High insulin levels have been associated with obesity as well as increased risk for heart disease and blood sugar imbalances. Controlled carb diets may promote a gradual rise and fall of insulin and are therefore more satiating. In high protein/controlled carb diets, it is thought that weight loss occurs through consumption of fewer calories resulting from increased satiety. Weight loss also occurs because very low carb intake triggers a condition called ketosis, which forces the body to burn fat stores, but ketosis can be unhealthy if continued for a long period of time.
The glycemic index measures how quickly a carbohydrate digests, enters the bloodstream, and raises blood sugar levels. High glycemic index foods, such as refined flours and high sugar beverages, are quickly digested, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. Such effects have been linked to diabetes, overeating, and obesity. Low glycemic index foods, in general, foods high in fibre and protein, contribute to a steadier blood sugar level and have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of diabetes. Many controlled carb diets recommend eating low glycemic index foods, such as beans, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables. Keep in mind that the glycemic index of a food may be balanced in the context of a meal where several foods of varying glycemic levels are consumed.
Remember, many theories exist about what constitutes a “perfect” diet. We believe a good foundation for any diet consists of a mix of fresh, minimally processed foods from all food groups, including: lean proteins; fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grain-based breads, cereals, and pastas; and heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, and avocado. And, just as important, a good diet contains delicious foods you enjoy and is one that you can maintain as an ongoing lifestyle choice