The bodies main energy source is glucose, and glucose comes in many different forms; potatoes, fruit, vegetables, whole grains even milk has a form of glucose! The body will take these foods and convert them into glucose and then distribute the glucose throughout the body. Carbohydrates are the main source of glucose our body has access to, and the food most readily converted to glucose. From here carbs can be categorized as simple, or complex. Simple carbs produce energy more rapidly while complex (multiple single chains combine as one) take longer for the body to break down, providing more sustained energy. What determines the timing in terms of how quickly the body breaks carbs down? Impact on blood sugar levels. The more complex and integrated a chain of carbs is, the better they will be at maintaining a healthy blood sugar levels, which sustains energy and offsets food craving. Blood sugar levels aside, let’s review the relationship between glucose/carbohydrates in more details.
– 1 or 2 molecules
– glucose and fructose are the main chains for the single molecule
– Sucrose and lactose are the main chains for the multiple molecules of simple carbs.
– Multiple simple sugars combined to create one chain/branch
– The more complex a chain is the longer the body will take to break it down and less impact on blood sugar levels, meaning blood sugar levels rise gradually, peak, are maintained at a certain level, and slowly decline over time.
– Bodies main source of energy
– When we talk about blood sugar levels we talking about the amount of glucose that is in the blood at one time,
– When these levels rise, the pancreas releases insulin which tell our cells to absorb the glucose from the blood stream, this is when the blood sugar levels start to drop
– When insulin is released other hormones are also released:
1. Leptin- Increase appetite suppression, when blood sugar is high.
2. Ghrelin- Increase appetite and hunger, when blood sugar is low.
*eating foods with lower GI (proteins and grains) decreases the amount of ghrelin release
– Known as the fruit sugar and is a simple sugar.
– Found in fruits and honey, and some proteins bars/powders.
– Metabolized in the liver, with less impact on blood sugar levels
– If too much fructose is consumed then the body will converts it into a fat.
– Processed sugar from sugar cane
– Simple sugar
– Impacts the blood sugar level. Causes spike in energy, followed by a rapid decline after. Known as the sugar high or rush.
– Creates up and down in blood sugar levels
– “Raw” sugar is still a Sucrose
– Found in milk
– Some have an intolerance to this sugar (body is unable to metabolise lactase)
– Metabolised slowly and aids in the absorption of minerals, calcium and magnesium.
When looking at your health and wellness goals it’s extremely important to look at your sugar intake and where the sugar is coming from, keeping in mind that everything needs to be moderation.
You might have heard health professionals speak of the glycemic index GI, this measures the rate at which food increases or decreases sugar levels in the blood. Foods are given a certain GI rating and this will determine generally how easily the body breaks down the food. A higher GI rating means the food is easily broken down and will produce a quicker spike in the blood sugar levels. Quicker spike up means a quick drop down and this creates that “crashing” feeling. A lower level GI means the body will take longer to break down and energy and blood sugar levels are more constant, where you experience less ups and downs.
This is also another great reason for why combining foods especially your snacks is important, If you’re having a piece of fruit add in some nuts (a small handful) this will aid in making sure there is no spiking, or having rice cakes with nut butter and some vegetables.
You want to make sure that your sugar intake is limited to the natural sugars and remember that carbohydrates are converted into glucose as well, so keep these as complex as possible. The best options are sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, whole grains, and beans/legumes. To enhance fat loss, it is important to keep your sugar intake to a minimum and ensure the foods you eat maintain consistent blood sugar levels.