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The Truth About Carbohydrates

How Can Men Improve Their Health By Finding the Right Carbs and Understanding the Glycemic Index
Printable Version
The Truth About Carbohydrates

CARBOHYDRATES HAVE GOTTEN A BAD REPUTATION LATELY, which is a shame because according to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 45-65 % of men’s daily calories should be derived from them. Before you boycott bakeries and Italian restaurants altogether, consider the facts about different types of carbohydrates and how they benefit men’s nutrition.

The Facts

Carbohydrates are integral to a healthy body. They break down into sugars within the body, which produces energy. The bottom line is that carbohydrates are your body’s number one energy source, and you can’t maintain good health without them.

With that being said, there are different types of carbs that produce different types of reactions, some good and some not-so-good. How a carbohydrate is defined is based on its nutritional structure as well as factors like how fast it breaks down within the system.

Simple Simon

Simple carbohydrates come from fruits, milk and sugar-added food. They are usually called simple sugars. Because simple sugars are processed quickly within the body, they often don’t maintain a feeling of “fullness” for too long. This can cause you to eat more to achieve satisfaction. While this isn’t entirely helpful, many simple sugars from fruits and milk can provide necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals, so it’s not like you’re NOT reaping any benefits from them.

However, some simple sugars only contribute “empty calories,” meaning they don’t provide a feeling of fullness, they add calories, and they don’t provide any other nutritional benefits. Because they digest so quickly, they play a big part in weight gain. These are carbohydrates found in refined products such as sugary sweets, many desserts, and sugary beverages. Because simple sugars from refined foods also provoke a rapid increase in blood sugar, they are being studied for their link to health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

Get a Nutritional Complex

Complex carbohydrates, like legumes, grains, vegetables, are also called starches. These carbohydrates are an optimal choice, since they break down slower within your body, allowing you to feel full for longer periods of time. They also provide an excellent energy source and contain valuable nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals. Again, look to unrefined complex carbohydrates like whole grains oatmeal, rather than refined starches like white flour and white rice.

Glycemic Index & Load

Carbohydrates are rated on a Glycemic Index, which measures how fast and how much your blood sugar level rises after you eat a food that contains carbohydrates. The faster the digestion and greater the spike in blood sugar, the higher the Glycemic Index and the more detrimental the food could be to you.

Although the Glycemic Index is a good way to gauge carb levels in different types of food, it can sometimes lead to confusing or conflicting results. Another measurement tool, the Glycemic Load, provides a more accurate measurement by dividing a food’s Glycemic Index by the actual number of carbohydrates it contains.

The Best Choices

Obviously, foods that have lower Glycemic Loads appear to be better for overall health. Foods that have low to medium Glycemic Loads are high-fiber fruits and vegetables (pears, blueberries, peas and artichokes), beans, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, sugar-free juices, and whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas. Foods that have a high Glycemic Load are candy, refined cereals, potatoes, sugary beverages and white bread, rice and pasta.

Some tips for deciding what carbs to ingest are:

• Try to get most of your carbohydrates from complex sources like whole grains, vegetables, legumes, brown rice and cereals.

• While you don’t need to entirely cut out simple carbohydrates, try to get them from fruits and milk, and not from sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.

• Avoid the “empty calories” of refined or processed foods altogether.

Copyright © MenScience Androceuticals 2007.

ABSTRACT: MenScience looks at the information on complex and simple carbohydrates, the glycemic index and glycemic load to investigate how men can lose weight, improve men’s diets and improve overall health.
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