Be Deliberate with your Carbohydrate Consumption

Excess insulin causes a range of maladies. You have the choice of managing your insulin or not. If you do not keep your insulin in check you will probably have a dumpy shaped body, emotionally feel mediocre, and have a high likelihood of developing a variety of life-style ailments up to and including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Let’s face it. This what state of the average person’s health in American. To obtain exceptional health you must do things differently.

Fortunately, knowledge is power.  With knowledge you have the option to have a beautiful body, to feel good, and to have a life without life-style disease. Lower the amount of carbohydrates you eat and you will lower your blood glucose and consequently your insulin levels. However it is not that simple. Your body needs carbohydrates, and if you lower the amount of carbohydrates that you have in your diet you must increase the amount of other macronutrients in your diet. There are only three macronutrients that our food consists of: fat, carbohydrates and protein. Thus, if you lower the amount of carbohydrates you eat you need to either increase the amount of fat and/or the amount of protein. Too much protein or too much fat is harmful as well. Thus eating a healthy diet means eating a well balanced diet that consists of a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat.

According to The Zone, the optimal balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat is 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat.[1] This is a higher percentage of protein and fat than what is represented in the food pyramid.  The amounts represented in the food pyramid are 70% carbohydrates, 15% protein and 15% fat.

Many of us were taught the basics of nutrition in grade school. We were told to use the food pyramid as a guide. However, the bottom line is that the food pyramid that we were taught to use is not based on the latest and best research. The following is a food pyramid created by the Harvard School of Public Health. Notice that the ratio of carbohydrates to protein are more in line with The Zone recommendations:[2]

The take away is that protein and fat macronutrients are an important part of a healthy diet. The amount of carbohydrates that were previously recommended was too high.

See this article: Consuming More Protein, Less Carbohydrates May Be Healthier

Another issue related to carbohydrates is that different carbohydrates have different affects on blood glucose. Some carbohydrates have a high glycemic index other have a more moderate glycemic index. Glycemic index is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index result in glucose entering your bloodstream quickly and raising your blood glucose quickly. This produces and exaggerated insulin response.  Carbohydrates with a more moderate glycemic index result in glucose entering you bloodstream more slowly and raising your blood glucose more slowly. This instead produces a moderate insulin response.

An glycemic index of over 70 is considered high, a glycemic index between 56 and 69 is considered medium and a glycemic index 55 and under is considered low:[3]

The following are some high glycemic index carbohydrates:  

  • Rice             about 87 GI
  • Bread          about 75 GI
  • Potatoes    about 89 GI

The following are some low glycemic index carbohydrates:

  • Apple               about 40 GI
  • Asparagus      about 15 GI
  • Broccoli          about 15 GI
  • Green Beans  about 15 GI

Checkout: Database of Foods’ Glycemic Indexes

A common mistake that people make is eating a lot of carbohydrates that have high glycemic indexes. Our bodies need carbohydrates. However, they do not need high glycemic index carbohydrates. It is a particularly bad idea to eat high glycemic carbohydrates every meal. Which is unfortunately what has become the norm in America. Eggs and hash browns, steak and potatoes, sandwiches, chicken and rice are all common meals.

The combination of eating diets that are both high percentage carbohydrates and diets in which those carbohydrates have a high glycemic index can be disastrous for many people’s health. However, it is important to note that genetics play a key role as well. Research conducted by Gerald Reaven at Stanford University in 1987 showed that insulin response to carbohydrates are diverse.  One quarter of people have a response to carbohydrates that is blunted. For these people when they eat carbohydrates, their insulin levels do not rapidly surge upward. Thus they can consume excess carbohydrates and not face the negative effects of elevated insulin, including becoming fat. On the other hand, one quarter of people have an extremely elevated response to carbohydrates. For these people the affect of eating excess carbohydrates is dramatic. Without limiting the amount of carbohydrates, these people will have a very difficult time maintaining a healthy weight. The other half of the population fall somewhere between these two extremes. [4]

This is part of the reason that is helpful to monitor your fasting blood glucose. Your fasting blood glucose can give you a sense of how sensitive your body is to carbohydrates and thus help you navigate your way towards a healthy lifestyle. Every Happy Deviant must know the limitation of their body and work within those limitations. Our body are awesome resilient machines, but there is a limit on the amount of abuse they can withstand.

For more information, check out this book: 
The Zone: A Dietary Road Map to Lose Weight Permanently : Reset Your Genetic Code : Prevent Disease : Achieve Maximum Physical Performance


~ by happydeviant on October 24, 2010.

2 Responses to “Be Deliberate with your Carbohydrate Consumption”

  1. Fantastic info!

  2. […] –  Be Deliberate with your Carbohydrate Consumption […]

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