Carbohydrates – the good, the bad and the ugly


Carbs aren’t all created equal! 

In fact, some carbs actually incredibly good for you. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of main fuel, they are a vital nutrient but they get such a bad reputation!

This may be a little difficult to “digest” considering the majority of modern diet plans almost treat carbs like the devil, but it’s all about making the right choices. If you eat bad carbs, you’ll receive negative health effects as a result. Eat good carbs, however? They’ll affect you positively!

The media and the celebrity world as a whole have helped to paint a pretty negative image of carbohydrates. The idea isn’t to completely remove carbohydrates but rather to ensure that the body no longer relies on them as its primary fuel source.

It’s important to learn the difference between carbohydrate types if you’re going to free yourself of this limiting preconception and enjoy a stress-free life of sensible nutrition.

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High impact & high GI carbs

Impact carbs are potentially very damaging to your health (and waistline) when consumed regularly in a completely unchecked manner. This is why you’ve got to ensure that any food plan you follow has been structured correctly based on your specific body measurements, otherwise you run the risk of “spilling over” your maximum daily allowances for each nutrient group.

An impact carb is any carbohydrate type that has a high impact on your blood sugar levels; these carbohydrate varieties are known as high GI (or high glycaemic index) carbohydrates and they digest rapidly into the bloodstream.

When high GI carbs enter the bloodstream, unless they are immediately used for physical exercise, they typically contain more energy than the body can successfully “tap into” in one go. This means the excess will simply get stored as body fat and you’ll then be privy to the negative health effects obesity has to offer.

Examples of high GI carbs:

  • white and whole wheat bread.
  • white rice.
  • breakfast cereals and cereal bars.
  • cakes, cookies, and sweet treats.
  • potatoes and fries.
  • chips and rice crackers.
  • fruits such as watermelon and pineapple.
  • sweetened dairy products such as fruit yogurts.

Low impact & Low GI carbs

On the other hand, non-impact (or low impact) carbohydrates are low GI and digest at a much slower rate within the bloodstream; due to this prolonged release of energy, this makes insulin spikes unlikely and leads to sustained energy levels.

Examples of low GI carbs:

  • Soy products
  • Beans
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Grainy bread
  • Porridge (oats)
  • Lentils. 

It’s the overconsumption of high GI carbohydrates that is perceived to be the primary reason behind many of the negative health effects taking place today. Hence the rise of nutrition plans like the keto and Atkins diets in order to allow the body to make the switch from being carb dependant to being fat dependant instead.

It’s specifically illnesses like type I and type II diabetes that are closely related to mass-produced, human-made carbohydrates therefore we should all be a little more carb-conscious if we’re going to succeed in living a healthier lifestyle. Making the switch to low GI carbs (low impact) primarily is certainly going to enhance your internal and mental well being once you get used to utilising them.

Create balance

Where low GI, low impact carbs come into play is to meet your everyday energy needs and keep your state of mental alertness and physical readiness primed for the daily tasks of modern life. If you were to consume high GI carbs all of the time, not only would your waistline begin to bulge, you’d also be faced with constant peaks and declines in your energy levels too. This wouldn’t lead to any serious level of productivity at work and you’d soon start to feel lethargic, tired and potentially even depressed.

Being that you know the difference between the two at this stage, you can now actually use both of them to serve their very unique purposes as opposed to completely casting them out.

Net carbs

Where this can get a little confusing is the “net” carbohydrate situation. Don’t worry though, it’s not nearly as confusing as it sounds.

Net carbohydrates are what you’re left with after the gram amount of fibre per serving has been taken away from the total carbohydrate count listed for your food type. For example, if an item is 20 grams of carbohydrates and it contains 8 grams of fiber, this means that the amount of net carbs the item contains is 12.

This is a great way of measuring the potential “damage” an item could cause you. Being that fiber is simply an essential component needed for the successful internal function of the body and contains no calories per-se, what you’re then left with is the true calorific content. It’s this system that the ketogenic diet is based on and it allows you to successfully gauge that you’re taking in enough fibre and eating the right kind of carbs.

High GI carbs are typically very low fiber. This means that all you’re typically ingesting is sugar as opposed to anything that’s actually going to serve any practical purpose within your system. You really want to ensure that the carbs you eat for typical energy release have a low “net worth” once the fibre has been removed. As a rule of thumb, this will ensure energy sustenance and internal well being.

Now that you know the difference between the carb varieties, you can now successfully integrate them into your daily structure and form a wholesome diet plan. Completely removing any element whatsoever is never the best way to ensure overall vitality. A balance, however, especially if you’re very physically active is certainly going to serve your needs effectively.