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    When we look at the ‘big picture’ of food, examining only the macro-nutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins), we can get a general idea of how each bite might affect our metabolism, fat storage and how it will be converted into energy for our bodies.

    This is the first step in understanding nutrition and should that be all you want to learn, considering it will help you lose, gain or maintain your ideal weight. This is easily true for 75% of western civilization’s people as that many of us are consuming far too many carbohydrates and are, to some degree, carb intolerant.

    When we start looking at carbs a little closer we find that they are made up of sugars (and/or sugar alcohol) and fiber. The sugar portion is rapidly absorbed and has a high glycemic index making your blood sugar rise. When we eat more of these than our bodies can burn off, our body stores them as fat (for future energy). Sadly, most of us will never need that energy in the future and the fat cells just sit there, dormant, as we grow more obese.

    For simplicity sake I have lumped the sugar alcohol component of a carbohydrate into the sugar category; the reason for which we can discuss another time.

    The other component to a carbohydrate is fiber. Fiber moves slowly through our digestive system and may or may not be insoluble. Fiber has many uses in our bodies, and is not stored as fat.

    So when we talk about ‘net carbs’ we are assessing a food based on its impact on blood sugar, its potential to be stored as fat. The total carbohydrate value minus the fiber. Simple as that.

    If you are a packaged food buyer (and I honestly hope you are not), you may also see marketing terms and labels on your crackers or snack bars that state “impact carb value” or “active carbs” as well as net carbs. For the sake of simplicity, all three are the same and can be calculated by looking at the nutritional breakdown on the back of the package which may be more trustworthy than the decorative marketing label on the front of the box.

    When you’re counting carbs – watching the impact of simple sugar conversion on your blood – for weight loss purposes – be sure to use your carb count for vitamin rich foods such as leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and fiber-rich fruits.

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