Going low carb is all the rage at the moment and it’s actually for good reason. Turns out that carbs can do a fair amount of damage in our bodies and that they might just be responsible for a lot of health problems that you had just kind of accepted as par for the course.
For instance, carbohydrates are well known to cause a spike in blood sugar. This is because carbohydrates are essentially foods that provide the purest kind of sugar and this then gets absorbed very quickly into our body. This in turn causes a spike and that is followed by a spike in insulin – the hormone that is used to regulate and control blood sugar levels. This then causes the energy to be taken up and unless you need it right away, it will be stored as fat.
The high amounts of sugar in your blood can cause damage until that point though, causing inflammation and more. In the mouth it can lead to the proliferation of bacteria that leads to bad breath and even lost teeth. And in the gut it can cause a range of digestive issues. It also causes inflammation which can lead to a range of other health complaints, as well as potentially causing brain fog and more.
And if you keep repeating this process over and over, eventually you are left with low insulin sensitivity that can eventually become diabetes. So in short, there is plenty of reason to avoid sugar.
Now compare this with consuming fat. That contains sugar and energy too but it is in a less available form. It takes much longer to be absorbed in the stomach and then it slowly enters the bloodstream. This doesn’t create a spike but provides us with just enough energy for whatever tasks we’re engaging in. As a result, we don’t feel high and then crash and we are less likely to store that energy as fat! Plus we feel fuller for longer.
None of this is to say that carbs are good and you should only eat protein and fat. In fact, all major food groups have some important role in the body. They are all there for a reason. What I want you to take away from this instead is simply that you should aim to eat fewer carbohydrates than you currently are and that this could result in some great health benefits.
But if you can’t eat carbs, that means no bread, it means no potato, it means no chocolate bars… Hmm, if only there were a way to have your cake and eat it (literally!). Especially seeing as carbs aren’t bad for you as such.
Well, that’s where the slow carb diet comes in. This is basically a diet that consists of carbohydrates that are slower to be absorbed, along with foods lower in carbs. We’ll learn more about this as we go but suffice to say that low glycemic index means that the carbs behave a lot more like fats. So what can you enjoy in a low GI diet?
Let’s start with one of the most ‘classic’ examples of a low GI food to help you ‘get it’.
So porridge oats are oats you can have for your breakfast. These don’t exactly taste sweet but they’re a great source of energy and they work first thing in the morning. Thing is, they’re very high in fiber and because of this, they take longer to digest. The sugar content is released much more slowly and thus they behave more similarly to fats.
This is what is meant by low GI and oats are one of the best options out there to start your day right!
2. Cereal Bar
Now here’s the interesting thing: it can actually be more useful sometimes to consider the GI of your entire meal rather than each individual element.
For example, if you eat a whole lot of sugar but you also eat a whole lot of fiber, then the fiber will slow the absorption of the sugar because it all sits together in the stomach where it needs to be sorted out and then it all reaches the blood at roughly the same time.
This means that many cereal bars and energy bars that are designed to be healthy will be great at gradually releasing their energy!
A low GI diet is not all about the more unusual foods though and things that sound like they belong in a paleo health shop. Some of the things you’re already probably eating on a regular basis are also low GI – such as broccoli.
Broccoli has a low GI of 10, which is one of the very best going. This is because it is so high in fiber. And it’s also high in vitamin C and calcium. So have your stir fry!
4. Sweet Potatoes
One of the ways many people approach a lot GI diet is to go around replacing their foods with slower-releasing alternatives.
One way they might do this is to switch to sweet potatoes that have a GI of 48 – better than regular potatoes.
Aubergine (or eggplant) is a rich and delicious vegetable that tastes great in a moussaka. It also happens to be very low GI, specifically only containing around 15G!
Want to make yourself a nice pasta bake? Then a good tip is to replace some of the pasta with vegetables like this to bulk it out!
6. Recooked Pasta
Speaking of ‘getting away with pasta’, another interesting option is to consume recooked pasta.
According to studies, if you take cooked pasta, let it go cold, and then heat it up again, this changes the chemical composition and it becomes lower GI.
It’s still better to avoid pasta entirely, but this is a good compromise and it’s certainly interesting too!
7. Dark Chocolate
Low GI tells you how long it takes for how much sugar to reach your blood stream. Thus you can eat a low GI diet consisting of complex carbs or you can also just look for things that contain less sugar.
One of the things you might miss most when you switch to a lower carb diet is chocolate. It’s a great feeling being able to eat delicious, creamy, sugary chocolate and that’s something a lot of people will look forward to at the end of a day.
But of course it’s very high in sugar and not good for you whatsoever!
What’s a little better then is dark chocolate. It’s still not exactly free of carbs but it does contain fewer and especially as you start approaching the 75-90% end of the spectrum. You can also find sticks of dark chocolate with no added sugar.
And along with avoiding sugar, dark chocolate will help you to get more epicatechin and a range of other very beneficial nutrients. So it’s worth seeking out if you can!
Lettuce may not be all that exciting and perhaps this is par for the course when you start eating healthy foods. But the reason it is a little more exciting than it might at first seem is that it can be used in the place of some carb staples.
In particular, you can use lettuce as an alternative for bread and that way wrap it around a filling in order to make a sandwich wrap. Low carb and with added nutritional value!
Cabbage is a good alternative to lettuce that can be used in hotter meals. One great example of a warm meal you can have with cabbage is the Polish bigos. This is a stew that includes both cabbage and sauerkraut with a wide range of meats and wine.
Another example is golumpki (also Polish) which is meat wrapped in cabbage in a tomato source. Both avoid the need from having a carb on the side!
One of the things you might find hardest when you go low carb is having to avoid crisps and stick instead to lower GI and lower carb options.
Well, nuts are a lower GI, they contain more protein and nutrients and they have very few carbs. So, uh, go nuts!