High Carb Snacks
There have been numerous articles in the press recently about how bad carbohydrates are for you. But it’s not as simple as that. There is a time and place for carbohydrates – the trick is to understand how carbohydrates affect your body.
When you eat a carbohydrate rich meal, your blood sugar levels will increase as the carbohydrates are broken down into their base molecules - sugar. This is an essential process, as carbs are the body’s principal source of energy. However, if too much of this sugar hits your blood at one time, your body releases insulin in response. Insulin is a hormone, and its role is to mop up excess blood sugar – it does this by moving the glucose (sugar) from the blood into the muscles and fat cells for storage.
Thus once your body has enough sugar, excess carbohydrates have just one fate – they will be converted into fat and stored as fat. So even though carbohydrates themselves are fat-free, if you eat excessive amounts of carbohydrates, they will still ends up stored as excess fat.
So any meal or snack that is high in carbohydrates will generate a rapid rise in blood glucose. Unless you immediately use this blood glucose – for example, by working out – there will be a rapid rise in insulin into the bloodstream to shuttle the sugar away and store it as fat. Os when you eat too much carbohydrate, you are essentially sending a hormonal message, via insulin, to your body. The message? "Store fat!"
In addition, not only do these increased insulin levels tell your body to store carbohydrates as fat, they also tell it not to release any stored fat! So eating lots of carbs actually makes it impossible for you to use your stored body fat for energy. The only way to get your body to burn these excess fats for energy is to control the insulin response.
But there’s more – insulin also makes you feel hungry! Remember, when your blood sugar levels increase following a carbohydrate meal, insulin levels rises to remove the excess blood sugar. As a result, your blood sugar levels drop quickly, triggering you to feel hungry. And because your blood sugar levels have fallen rapidly, what do you crave? Sweets and refined carbohydrates, the very foods that created this situation in the first place.
So what can you do? The only answer is to moderate the insulin response by limiting your intake of refined sugars, and keeping your total carbohydrate intake to about 50% of total calories.
So when can you eat high carbohydrate foods? Shortly before exercise is the ideal time – eating a healthy carbohydrate snack an hour or so before you work out will ensure that you have the energy to get through your session:
- Thick vegetable soup
- Salad sandwich
- 200g baked potato with low fat filling
- Bowl of cereal with skimmed milk
- 75g dried fruit
- Banana sandwich