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Good Carbs Bad Carbs

By Mikki Reilly

In past years, it was thought that simple carbs were the bad carbs and complex carbs (which come from starchy foods) were the good ones. But the distinction between the two is really meaningless. All carbs get broken down into glucose in our bodies. What's important is how quickly they get broken down.

When a carbohydrate is broken down into glucose, that glucose enters the bloodstream. The body senses the rise in glucose and responds by secreting insulin. Insulin has many functions. It helps the glucose in the blood enter the liver, muscles and fat cells. It also shuts down fat burning, promotes fat storage and increases the production of triglycerides (fat molecules in the blood).

The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate raises your blood sugar. Most fruits, vegetables and nuts have low glycemic indexes. When you eat an apple or some macadamia nuts, for example, it takes a long time for the carbohydrates to be broken down into glucose. Conversely, most grains and sugars, such as candy, breads and rice all have higher glycemic indexes and the carbohydrates are broken down much more rapidly.

But the glycemic index isn't the only thing that matters. You also need to consider the amount of the carbohydrate consumed. The glycemic load considers both the glycemic index and amount of carbohydrate per serving. If you ate a small piece of candy, for example, although the sugar would be broken down quickly, there's very little of it, so it wouldn't require much insulin. By the same token, if you ate some brown rice, even though the glycemic index may be lower, there's a lot more of it in a serving, so it would require more insulin.

So whether your goal is fat loss or just overall health and fitness, use the glycemic load for choosing carbohydrate sources. The easiest way is to follow the diet of the hunter-gatherers and all the foods you consume will have a low glycemic load.

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Article by Mikki Reilly, BA, MFS, of FitnessTransform. Visit her web site, http://www.fitnesstransform.com, and her blog, for the the most up-to-date news, information and tips that will help you transform your health, fitness and overall quality of life.

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