Basics of Nutrition (Part 1 of 4)

Part 1 = Carbs
Part 2 = Protein
Part 3 = Fats
Part 4 = Eating your macronutrients

What a horrible can of worms. How many diet fads have we all heard of? Atkins, Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Paleo, Zone, Volumetrics, Warrior Diet, Keto Diet…etc. What in the world am I supposed to choose? What is best? What’s the difference? Why is one better than another?

How about let’s start over. How about we get to the root of the problem and talk about the ingredients, no matter which diet you’re on or not on.

You’ve got 3 macronutrients: Carbs, Proteins, and Fats.

In this blog, we’re going to talk about Carbs.


Carbohydrates (or CHO) is going to control the insulin hormone in your body.

Insulin in the hormone in your body released by the pancreas that allows your body to use glucose from carbohydrates as energy, or to store it for later use. Insulin helps your blood sugars from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia). It also affects the other metabolic processes, such as the breakdown of proteins and fats. In layman’s terms, insulin tells your muscles, liver, and fat stores to hold things. Most common problems with insulin is diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas cannot sufficiently produce enough insulin to sufficiently meet it’s own needs. Type 2 diabetes is typically associated with adults and lifestyle choices. Type 2 means that the individual’s pancreas still produces insulin, but not enough to meet the body’s needs.

Now let’s talk about how Carbohydrates break down, turn into glucose (sugar), and control the insulin response in your body. No matter if you’re eating a piece of bread, a stalk of broccoli, or a glass of wine, they all end up as sugar. However, not all sugars are created equal. In order to understand the sugar breakdown process, you must first understand the Glycemic Index.

The Glycemic Index (or GI) is an index that shows the rate at how fast every type of carb breaks down into glucose (sugar) and enters your blood stream. The higher it rates on the GI ,the faster it breaks down into the blood stream. Low GI foods typically foster weight loss, while foods higher on the GI help with energy recovery after exercise, or help to offset hypo- (insufficient) glycemia. For example, if pure glucose = 100 of the GI; a banana is a 47, a waffle is 76, white rice is 72, brown rice is 50, chickpeas are 10, apple is 36, Fanta soft drink is 68, and cornflakes breakfast cereal is 81.

But the glycemic index only tells part of the story. What it doesn’t tell you is how high your blood sugar could go once you actually eat the food. This is determined by how much CHO is actually in an individual serving. This amount of glucose that is delivered to the blood stream is known as the Glycemic Load (or GL). The GL is determined by multiplying the amount of grams of CHO per serving and the GI number, then take that product and divide it by 100. This GL will give you a better picture of the real-life impact that the food has on your blood sugar levels. A GL of 10 or below is considered low; 20 or above is considered high. Watermelon, for example, has a high GI (80). But a serving of watermelon has so little carbohydrate (6 grams) that its GL is only 5.

Here is an international list of foods and their glycemic index and load.

Basics of Nutrition (Part 1 of 4)

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