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Types of Carbohydrates


BodybuildingPro.com Nutrition Database Nutrition Dictionary: A Comprehensive Source of Nutritional Terms Carbohydrates Database Carbohydrate Articles Types of Carbohydrates

Categories of Carbohydrates

There are a variety of types of carbohydrates, and it is important to understand each one individually and the pros and cons of consumption. This will help you to know when to eat what type of carb, and in what quantity, as each one is distinct in it's benefit to the body and to training.

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are not as easily digestible as simple carbohydrates. They are broken down before they are absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, they release glucose into the bloodstream at a slower pace than simple carbohydrates. A detailed list of such carbohydrates can be found HERE. Some examples include breads, potatoes and legumes.

Simple Carbohydrates

Unlike complex carbohydrates, simple carbohydrates are already in simplest form, and are therefore more easily digested and enter into the bloodstream at a faster rate. A detailed list of such carbohydrates can be found HERE. Some examples include fruit, cookies and candy.

High Glycemic Carbs

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the speed at which a carbohydrate raises blood sugar levels. From this, a high glycemic carb is one which raises blood sugar levels very quickly. The spike in blood sugar creates the insulin response which means that your body will produce high amounts of insulin to return your blood sugar back to normal levels. This is done by converting all the glucose into fat which gets stored in your body. This results in low blood sugars and the craving for simple carbs. Examples of high GI carbs include potatoes, corn, carrots, bagels, white bread, and gatorade (good to consume post workout with a protein shake.

Low Glycemic Carbs

Low Glycemic Carbs cause a smaller rise in blood sugar. Low GI carbs are preferred when losing weight, but not the only choice. High GI carbs can be used when mixed with protein and healthy fats. Some examples of low GI carbs include plums, peas and spinach.

Refined (Processed) Carbs

Refined carbs are products that have been altered to increase shelf life. These types of carbs are found in frozen, canned and boxed items. Key words to look for on packaging to determine if the carbs are processed are words such as rolled, bleached, dehydrated and partially hydrogenated. Examples of these types of carbs include white bread, pasta and cookies.

Unrefined Carbs

Unrefined carbs are foods that are in their natural state. Oranges are unrefined while orange juice is refine.

Carbs to Avoid while Dieting

While trying to lose weight, it is good to avoid most processed foods such as pasta, white rice, fruit juice, sugar loaded fat free yogurt, most crackers, cookies, pastries, white bread, chips, pretzels, bagels, sports drinks, soft drinks, and candy. Once you have dieted and lost weight successfully, these carbs can be re-admitted into your daily diet in moderation.

Carbs to Moderate

Many of the most popular diet plans tell you to avoid starchy carbs and high glycemic carbs but they do serve a purpose. If you're working out your body needs them for energy and they also help your body burn fat. There are 3 simple rules when it comes to starchy and high glycemic carbs:

Limit yourself to two servings a day of each

Eat them in the first half of your day. Always combine with protein. Doing this allows you to eat some of the foods you like and still lose weight. For example: In the first half of your day you can have eggs and potatoes for breakfast, fruit salad and protein shake for a snack, and tuna with veggies, balsamic vinegar & olive oil in half a whole wheat pita for lunch. In the afternoon you could eat whey protein shake & 1 apple for a snack, plus a chicken breast and spinach & tomato salad for dinner.

Carbs You Can Indulge

Not many people are into eating greens and high fiber cereal (13g of more per serving) but these are the carbs the help you feel full, have the most nutrients, and really boost metabolism so indulge all you want.

Cycle Your Carbs

Another great strategy is to vary your carb grams based on your activity level. On the days you're lifting heavy and doing a lot of cardio you can allow yourself a little more carbs than on the days you don't work out at all. But don't use this as an excuse to indulge your chocolate cake fantasies. All this means is that you can eat an extra piece of fruit or an extra serving of brown rice. If you stick to these simple rules you will have no problem shedding those pounds without feeling too deprived.


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