Are all Carbs Created Equal?

While Thomas Jefferson’s immortal declaration, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” reverberates into perpetuity as one of societies steadfast pillars, the same cannot be said of carbohydrates.

For years, various schools of thought have established strong beliefs that ALL carbs are the enemy of an envious bikini-ready physique. Let’s not discount them completely though. Carbs provide a primary source of energy though glucose. I’ll keep the scientific details limited but for those of you looking for more in-depth knowledge can check out some additional links below.
Now that we all agree carbs are vitally necessary, back to our original question… is there a difference between the types of carbs?? YES!!! 🙂

The amount of carbs necessary are dependent on each individual’s goals, weight, age, activity level, etc. Typically, recommended carb intake can vary anywhere from 100 grams to 400 grams per day. Knowing this, let’s say your suggested number of daily carbohydrates is 200 grams – what should you eat?
Well, you could eat 105 Swedish Fish…


Sounds great, right? Wrong, that’s probably not the best idea. But, why? Let’s dig a little deeper and venture into the glycemic index.

In short the glycemic index is a measure of a carb’s impact on the body and blood sugar. The scale measures from 1-100. A high Glycemic index (>70), simple carbohydrate, indicates a rapid spike in blood sugar shortly after consumption, quickly followed by a rapid decline in blood sugar. A low value (<55), complex carbohydrate, on the Glycemic index indicates that the carbohydrate slowly increases blood sugar levels with, as you may expect, a slow drop in blood sugar levels to follow. For those who like visuals better, the graphic below from GlycemicIndex.com puts the “sugar high” into perspective.

By now, you are wondering what this means for you…. Right? You have been given a set number of carbohydrates to consume so here is why you should pick a sweet potato over soda or candy.

Well, here’s my 099 level explanation:

Eating foods with a high glycemic value will give you a quick boost of energy but will quickly leave you feeling lethargic, hungry and unsatisfied. While coming down off this ‘sugar high,’ you will tend to feel hungry again leading to overeating. Low glycemic values keep you satisfied for longer periods of time and do not result in large changes in insulin levels.
Moral of the story: Select complex carbohydrates with low glycemic index values.
And as always with GTYN, we advocate moderation, so if Swedish fish are your thing, then plan accordingly and enjoy a handful of them; hopefully not 105 though.

Examples of Glycemic Index Values

Photo from: GlycemicIndexCertification.com

Helpful Links:
http://www.glycemicindex.com/about.php
http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index
http://www.humankinetics.com/excerpts/excerpts/the-bodyrsquos-fuel-sources