Each Item Below Is One Carbohydrate Choice
Grains, beans and starchy vegetables
- 1/2 small bagel or English muffin
- 1/2 hamburger or hot dog bun
- 1 6-inch tortilla
- 1/3 cup spaghetti, macaroni, or other pasta
- 1/3 cup cooked rice
- 1/3 cup cooked beans or peas
- 1/2 cup canned fruit in natural, unsweetened juice
- 1/4 cup raisins, prunes, other dried fruit
- 1/2 cup fruit juice
- 1/3 cup fruit-flavored, low-fat yogurt
- 1/3 cup low-fat yogurt with fruit
- 1/2 2-ounce Snickers® Bar
- 1/18 fruit pie with 2 crusts
- 1/16 of custard pie
- 1 tablespoon sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn
- syrup, jam or jelly
- 1/4 cup fat-free salad dressing
- 1/2 of 1 1/2-ounce Hersheys® Milk Chocolate bar
- 2-inch-square brownie
- 3 cups raw vegetables, such as salad greens
- 1 1/2 cups cooked vegetables (spinach, broccoli,
- carrots, lettuce)
- 1 1/2 cups tomato juice or vegetable juice
Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.
Call 800.287.0274 , or 207.581.3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.
Your Gut Microbiome Needs Carbohydrates
Some carbohydrates cant be digested by the body. Instead, they travel to the colon where they provide important sustenance for your gut bacteria.
Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are two examples of important probiotic bacteria found in the gut and in cultured foods. They feed on the complex sugars, which are often referred to as dietary fibers, or prebiotics.
Probiotic and beneficial bacteria that ferment carbohydrates have a range of benefits for digestive and overall health. They support a healthy immune system, deter pathogens, and produce vitamins and short-chain fatty acids that maintain the gut lining.
Interestingly, artificial sweeteners have long been promoted as healthier alternatives to natural sugar. However, a recent study indicates that artificial sugars, like sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin, are more likely to cause glucose intolerance than pure glucose or sucralose.
The microbiome may play a role in this: artificial sweeteners can alter your gut microbiota by reducing Lactobacillus and increasing the abundance of Bacteroides. The effect these artificial sweeteners have on the gut microbiota is the opposite of the effect of natural sugars.
TIP: levels of probiotic and beneficial bacteria, butyrate, and microbiome diversity are all measured by the Atlas Microbiome Test.
How Your Body Works
The foods we eat break down when digested and much of what we eat breaks down into glucose. . Insulin is needed when we eat anything that breaks down into glucose the insulin either comes from your pancreas, or you need to take insulin from a pump/shot.
Where this gets tricky is that its easy to think that glucose is sugar only, which is not the case. What makes it even more confusing is that they are both on the nutrition label and we know that is where we are supposed to look for our carbohydrate information.
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Are All Carbs Created Equal
This blog is written in conjunction with Wyndham Bonett and Lee Weber, FSU medical students.
Rice, pasta, fruits and vegetables. These foods are all carbohydrates but not all carbs are created equal.
Youve probably heard the terms good carbs and bad carbs. Well, some forms of carbohydrates are better for you than others. Heres what you should know:
How Do You Use The Food Label To Count Carbohydrates
Looking at a food label, find the serving size and the total carbohydrate in that one serving. Note: Total carbohydrate includes sugar, starch, and fiber. Use the grams of total carbohydrate when carbohydrate counting.
To calculate the number of carbohydrate choices in that particular serving, simply divide the amount of total carbohydrate by 15.
Refer to the following information to assist with calculating carbohydrate choices:
- Grams of Carbohydrate 0-5
*This content has been reviewed by Dr. David Kitts
Dietary carbohydrates include starches, sugars, and fibre.
- Use of Dietary Carbohydrates as Energy. Glucose is the primary energy source of the body. Major dietary sources of glucose include starches and sugars.
- Digestion of Carbohydrates. Dietary carbohydrates are digested to glucose, fructose and/or galactose, and absorbed into the blood in the small intestine.The digestion and absorption of dietary carbohydrates can be influenced by many factors.
- Absorption of Carbohydrates. Absorbed carbohydrate molecules are used immediately for energy or stored in various forms in the muscles, liver or adipose tissue for future use.
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Sugar Starch And Fiber Are All Carbs
Carbohydrates come in three forms: sugar, starch, and fiber. Getting the right balance of sugars, starches, and fiber is key to keeping blood sugars in a healthy range. It helps to know that:
- Added sugars raise the blood sugar quickly. Foods with added sugar make blood sugars spike. You might see sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, or fructose listed on the food label. Foods that naturally contain sugar dont cause blood sugar to rise as quickly as added sugars and are more nutritious.
- Some starches raise the blood sugar slowly. In general, starches that are less processed tend to raise the blood sugar more slowly. These include foods like brown rice, lentils, and oatmeal. Foods that are processed a lot, like white rice and white bread, raise the blood sugar quickly.
- Fiber helps slow down sugar absorption. A diet with plenty of fiber can help people with diabetes keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. The fiber in foods helps carbs break into sugar slower. So there’s less of a peak when blood sugar spikes. Good sources are whole fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Fiber also helps you feel full, and it keeps the digestive system running smoothly.
What Is Glycemic Load
The glycemic load of a food is different than its GI and understanding both is important. While knowing the GI of a food will tell you the rate at which it will raise your blood sugar based on a portion containing 50 g of carbohydrate, it doesnt tell you how high your blood sugar could go based on the actual portion size you are eating.
Low GL: 10 and lower
Medium GL: 11-19
High GL: 20 and higher
For example, watermelon and donuts have the same GI, but when taking into consideration a serving size, 1 cup of watermelon, which contains fewer carbs than a donut, watermelon has a lower GL than a donut. Carrots are another example of a high GI and low GL food.
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Learn To Estimate Food Portions
A very practical technique for counting carbohydrates is the portion conversion method. Portion conversion involves estimating the volume of a serving of food by comparing it to a common object such as your fist, a soft drink can or a milk carton, and then converting the volume into a carbohydrate count based on the typical carbohydrate content for a known amount of that type of food. This approach is particularly useful when having a complex meal , dining out, or eating foods that vary in size .
Heres an example of how it works: You know that one cup of cooked pasta contains about 40 grams of carbohydrate. Next, you estimate that the portion of pasta youre about to eat is 1 1/2 cups by visually comparing the amount of pasta on your plate to a 12-ounce soft drink can. You then do the math to determine that youre about to eat 60 grams of carbohydrate.
Here are some common measuring devices that can be used to mentally calculate portions:
Average adults fist = 1 cupBaseball = 1 cup
How Can I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable After Intermittent Fasting
It is also possible to maintain stable blood sugar levels after fasting. Eat plain low-carb foods to avoid spikes in blood sugar and maintain a fat-burning regimen. Ultimately, with intermittent fasting, its important to find the right tools to help you with your daily routine, rather than sticking to fasting techniques.
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What Carbohydrates Can Be Broken Down Into Sugars
There are two basic kinds of carbohydrates: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are the simple basic form of carbohydrates, which means they are not bonded to other carbs. They are found mostly in large quantities in refined sugars, but are also found in fruits, vegetables, milk, grains, legumes, and nuts. The body breaks down simple carbohydrates quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar. Then the body produces insulin, to clean up the sugar. Insulin is the bodys main fat-storage hormone. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods that are slower to digest, like fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. They are also referred to as starches. They are made up of long chains of sugars, called saccharides. When you eat complex carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose slowly, so they are not as likely to cause a spike in your blood sugar. And they are much more likely to be converted into energy that will be used by the body soon after the food is absorbed. Eating a diet that is high in complex carbohydrates but low in simple carbohydrates is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy weight..
Vegetables Offer Important Nutrients And Help You Feel Full
If theres one thing you remember, let it be this: Eat more vegetables. Vegetables are a great way to moderate the carbs in a meal and feel full, Nguyen says. Registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators recommend filling half your plate with nonstarchy vegetables . Beyond adding bulk to your meal for fewer calories, these veggies are packed with health-promoting compounds. For instance, cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale, contain glucosinolates, which are compounds with properties that may help prevent cancer, says the National Cancer Institute.
That doesnt mean starchy veggies, like sweet potatoes, corn, or green peas, are off limits. You’ll simply want to eat them in moderation. Be sure to include lean protein, like tuna, eggs, or turkey or chicken without the skin.
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What Are Three Types Of Carbohydrates Turn To Sugar
Articles on the subject. The three types of carbohydrates are sugar, starch and fiber. During the digestion process, sugars and starches are converted into sugars, which the body uses for energy. Humans have no enzymes to digest fiber, so it passes through the digestive tract without turning into sugar.
What Do All Carbohydrates Have In Common
Carbohydrates are your bodys main energy source and the preferred type of fuel for your brain cells. Generally, carbohydrates fit in to one of two categories: Simple or complex. Simple carbs are sugars that digest rather quickly, while complex carbohydrates are branched molecules that take longer to break down. Although they are each processed differently in your system, they do have some similarities.
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Many Fruits Are Also High In Fiber And Shouldnt Be Feared
You may worry about fruits because youve heard that theyre packed with sugar, but dont discount this healthy carb source. Fruit should not be off limits to people with diabetes, says Palinski-Wade. Along with naturally occurring sugar, fruit is packed with vitamins and disease-fighting antioxidants, as well as fiber.
And that last point is important. As many as 95 percent of Americans fall short on this nutrient, noted an article published in the January-February 2017 issue of American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine and increasing your intake has been linked to weight loss, such as in a randomized trial published in February 2015 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Whats more, among people with diabetes, those who eat fresh fruit daily have lower risks of mortality and developing diabetes-related vascular complications compared with those who rarely do, per a study published in April 2017 in PLoS Medicine.
Because fruit is a source of carbs, Palinski-Wade recommends sticking to one serving at a time, and spacing out fruit intake throughout the day to help balance blood sugar levels. No fruit is completely off limits, but you want to monitor your blood sugar to see how certain fruits impact you as an individual, she adds.
Ways To Include Good Quality Carbohydrates In Your Diet:
- Choose wholegrain breads and cereals.
- Have fruit whole, rather than as a juice. Eating an apple with the skin on, for example, will provide more fibre than drinking a glass of apple juice.
- Ring the changes with quinoa and bulgur wheat as an alternative to pasta.
- Try seeds, nuts and pulses as lower carb sources of fibre
- Choose unsweetened milk and yogurts
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Carbohydrates In A Balanced Diet
To maintain energy, eat carbohydrates before and after intense exercise. It is equally important to eat a balanced diet with the appropriate proportion of carbs, proteins, and healthy fats. Generally speaking, that means at least 50% of your daily energy intake should come from carbohydrates, 35% or less from fats, and the remainder from protein.
For athletes, the proportion may need to be adjusted to accommodate increased energy needs. So, for example, an athlete might need to get 60% of their calories from carbs and limit fats to 30% or less.
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Dairy Provides Key Nutrients Such As Calcium And Protein
You may be surprised to learn that milk and other dairy products contain sugar in the form of lactose. But this is an important food group to include in your healthy diabetes diet because these foods offer protein and calcium. Protein offers staying power in your meals , according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, while calcium is a critical mineral for heart, muscle, and bone health, the National Institutes of Health points out.
Though many people are opting for full-fat dairy, Palinski-Wade recommends low-fat dairy, which is labeled as 1 or 2 percent milk fat. Full-fat dairy contains higher levels of saturated fat, which can not only increase the risk of heart disease and inflammation, but diets rich in saturated fat have been associated with a higher level of insulin resistance, she says, supporting findings from a study published in August 2018 in Diabetes Care.
For reference, a cup of full-fat milk contains 4.55 grams of saturated fat, 149 calories, and 12 g of carbohydrates, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture . Compare that with a cup of 1 percent milk, which has 1.54 g of saturated fat, 102 calories, and 12 g carbohydrates, per the USDA.
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Dont Just Cut Carbs From Your Diet
Carbohydrates, along with fats and protein, are three essential macronutrients that the body needs to function.
Carbohydrates are the human bodys main source of energy, yet, they are also blamed for the rise in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. But there are distinct differences between the different carbohydrates we consume.
In fact, its processed and refined carbs which have given all carbohydrates a bad reputation. Refined carbs and processed foods with high amounts of added sugar have had all their fiber and essential nutrients taken away.
Therefore, they can be broken down into glucose and released quickly into the bloodstream. The quick release means there is a spike in blood sugar levels, and you may even feel hungry again a short while after consuming them.
Carbohydrates are a broad category of macronutrients. Rather than just eliminating all of them from your diet, think about both the quality and quantity of the carbohydrates you consume.
There is no doubt that cutting or reducing added sugar from the diet is highly beneficial, but the same cannot be said for the fiber and nutrients some complex carbohydrates provide, like fiber, polyphenols, and essential vitamins and minerals.
Equally, replacing carbohydrates with other macronutrients, such as protein or fats, can negatively impact the function of your brain .
The Difference Between Carbs
The answer is of-course yes. There is a big difference if you eat a piece of cake or a fruit. The difference is because whole foods such as a fruit comes together with minerals and vitamins where the cake only contains the sugar. And what is sugar eventually? Energy. And the amount of energy we get from processed food is insane and is only causing chaos into our body.
However since I hope you already know that cakes are bad for you, lets go back to the topic of carbs. Carbs from whole foods like potatoes, fruit for example. What should do with them, if they also turn into sugar?
It is correct that all turn into sugar, but since they are all whole foods they are metabolised differently. For example
- Vegetables although are primarily carbs they have low sugar levels as they have a higher amount of fiber.
- Fruit which contain fructose have also a high water content so they tend to have a lower Gycemic Load a numeric score to a food based on how drastically it makes your blood sugar rise.
- Starchy food like depending on how they are prepared will trigger enzymes to break down those bonds into glucose, which impacts our blood sugar levels. Some starches, like those found in potatoes, are higher on the glycemic index, which means they break down more easily, leading to faster uptake of glucose and a potential blood sugar spike.
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