Understanding Carb Terms

People going on diets with little nutritional knowledge often have a difficult time understanding carb terms. We have simple and complex carbs, we track total or net carbs depending on our needs. With these terms, it is little wonder that carbohydrates are less understood than protein and fat. Where it becomes critical to understand carbohydrate terms is when you are diabetic or prediabetic. I have to say, I am often dumbfounded when I talk to a type 2 diabetic who does not understand carb terms. Carbs are something a diabetic needs to know forward, backwards, up, and down.

For a type 2 diabetic, it is not enough to just track your blood sugar and medicate as necessary. You can only control your disease when you understand all aspects of it. It is not rare that people who do not properly manage their diabetes will lose appendages and their sight. Type 2 diabetes is serious business!

What the difference between simple and complex carbs?

Carbohydrates are sugars that come in 2 main forms, simple and complex. Carbs are also referred to as simple sugars and starches. Because of their difference in chemical structure, simple carbs are more quickly digested and absorbed into your bloodstream than complex carbs.

Simple Carbs

Simple carbohydrates are called simple sugars. Sugars are found in a variety of natural food sources including fruit, vegetables and milk, and give food a sweet taste. But they also raise blood glucose levels quickly which is why understanding carb terms becomes important.

Sugars can be categorized as single sugars (monosaccharides), which include glucose, fructose and galactose, or double sugars (disaccharides), which include sucrose (table sugar), lactose and maltose. These sugars provide absolutely no nutritional benefits except for quick energy. It is a fact that if you want to lose weight and then keep it off, you will eliminate added sugar from your diet.

Complex Carbs

Complex carbohydrates contain longer chains of sugar molecules than simple carbohydrates. The body converts these sugar molecules into glucose, which it uses for energy. Because complex carbohydrates have longer chains, they take longer to break down and provide more lasting energy in the body than simple carbohydrates.

No matter what advocates of Keto might tell you, complex carbohydrates are key to long-term, good health. They make it easier to maintain a healthy weight and can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. For weight control, complex carbs are far superior than simple carbs. They are higher in fiber and digest more slowly which makes them more satiating. Because of fiber content, complex carbs help manage blood sugar spikes after meals. The result of managing blood sugar spikes is that you will also better manage insulin spikes. The main sources of dietary fiber include:

fruits

vegetables

nuts

beans

whole grains

Total Carbs vs Net Carbs

Understanding carb terms can be confusing with four different variables.

Net carbs are what you have when you subtract grams of fiber and sugar alcohols from your total grams of carbohydrates. It is recommended that you subtract half the grams of sugar alcohols from your total carbs, while you can subtract all from erythritol. Erythritol is one hundred percent passed through the body, therefore you do not need to count them

Why should we care about total carbs vs net carbs?

You want to get a balance of macronutrient percentages for good health. We need complex carbs, protein and healthy fats. Terms like net carbs shouldn’t trick dieters into thinking, “This is a free lunch, and I can have as much as I want,” just because a food company says the impact or net carbs are only so much.

Most people are better off to track their total carbs, especially if they are diabetic. If you are diabetic and want to count your net carbs, you really should play it safe and only subtract your grams of fiber. It is better to figure your carbs high than to figure them low when you are diabetic. You will get yourself in trouble when you underestimate the amount of carbs you consume when you are diabetic. So, play it safe my friends.

The concept of net carbs was brought about by the low carb crazes such as Atkins and Keto. You might want to track your nets carbs if you are still eating sugar as this will help you to predict cravings later on. We usually provide net carbs and total carbs in our recipes to help those on low carb diets.

Reality Check!

Here is a reality for all to recognize. At the end of the day, when it comes to weight loss, it does not matter how many grams of each macronutrient you eat. If you eat simple carbs, you are setting yourself up for cravings. Complex carbs do not cause cravings, but they do provide long lasting energy for your body. Weight loss is a matter of calories consumed vs calories burned, no matter their source. If you cannot lose weight, you are still consuming too many calories for your basal metabolic rate. That is a simple fact, unless you have an actual medical condition that prevents weight loss. These medical conditions are not as common as people might want to believe.

Check out our  plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness. It is not complicated at all, and is really nothing more than a common sense approach to nutrition. I guarantee that anyone who tries our methodology will lose weight, and then keep it off. Best of all, we charge nothing to anyone to follow our methodology, we are entirely free to all.
We also have a page on Facebook where you can also follow along with David’s Way to Health and Fitness. Give us a like and a follow if you like what you see!

 

4 thoughts on “Understanding Carb Terms

  1. Thanks so much David this article is very helpful and informative.
    Keep up the great work.
    Jimi

Comments and questions are most welcome!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.