If you are wondering which foods are low in carbohydrates then the best way to understand this is to find out which foods have a lot of carbs and why. The idea of carbohydrates in food can be confusing but it really doesn’t have to be. If you know where carbs come from, and how they are used in nature, then it becomes much clearer.
Carbohydrates are made by plants to do two functions. The first is to store energy for the plant and the second is to build the structure of the plant so it can stand up and not fall over. The energy carbs are known as sugar and starch. The carbs used for the structure of the plant are mostly not able to be digested by humans and they are known as fiber.
The sugar and starch carbs can raise your blood sugar levels which can play havoc with your diabetes or cause you to gain weight. These are the carbs that you want to concentrate on if you are on a low carb diet.
The fiber carbs are actually good for you because they add bulk to your digestive system making it work better. Fiber can also help eliminate fats such as cholesterol out of your body thus helping with your potential for heart disease.
Sugar and Starch Carbohydrates
The sugar and starch found in vegetables, fruits, and grains are what cause increases in blood sugar. Let’s look for a minute at how these two types of carbohydrates are formed.
I think this will help you to get a good idea of which foods potentially have high levels of carbs and which have low levels.
When the sun shines on a plant it causes the plant to combine some basic building blocks of life into sugar molecules. In particular, water from the ground and carbon dioxide from the air are combined to form sugar molecules. This is called photosynthesis.
The plants do this in order to use the sugar molecules for fuel. But they also need to store energy. Sugar molecules are not easy to store so the plants combine lots of thess sugar molecules together to form long chains that are called starches.
These sugar molecules which are stuck together to form starches are not bonded together very strongly. So, when we eat a starchy food, like a potato, it is easy for our body to break it down to straight sugar molecules again.
The Interesting Part About Sugar and Starch and Us
What is really amazing is the fact that our bodies also use sugar for energy. When we eat foods with starches and sugar it is digested into our blood stream as blood sugar. This blood sugar is then used by our cells for energy. This is done with the help of insulin which allows the sugar into the cells so it can be used up.
People with diabetes have a problem with insulin production and so their cells can not use the sugar very well and it builds up in the blood stream. This can cause big problems.
Which Foods Are Low In Carbohydrates
Now we understand what carbs are. If you don’t understand then please read the first part of this article again. If you still don’t get it then send me a message and I will explain it further. THIS IS IMPORTANT when you are deciding which foods to eat.
Since carbohydrates come from plants we can say that foods that aren’t plant based will be basically no carb. So any foods from animals such as beef, pork, poultry, fish, and eggs fit in the very low carb category.
One food from animals to watch out for is milk. It contains sugar called lactose which is for the quick growth of the baby. Some people think that adults have no business drinking milk because it is designed for babies. But most people don’t go that far. Just be aware that milk does contain some sugar.
Green vegetables also tend to be low in sugar and starch carbs. The main reason for this is that most of the carbs found in these vegetables are actually fiber carbs. So, green vegetables are great for a low carb diet.
Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, are not good because the potato is stuffed with starch carbs which are easily converted by our bodies into sugar which is then digested as blood sugar.
Grains also have a lot of starch. The more processed the grain is, the easier it is for the starch to be converted into sugar. As grains are refined most everything other than the starch is removed and so it is really easy to convert the starches into sugar. So, a piece of bread made with whole wheat will not be converted to sugar near as fast as a piece of white bread or a donut.
The USDA recommends that we eat some grains but they should be whole grains and not the refined flours that we find in white bread and rolls, pastries, cakes and pies. Instead, be sure if you eat baked products that they are made from flours that have all the original parts of the grain still intact.
Recap of Foods and Carbohydrates
- Foods from animals such as beef, pork, chicken, and fish do not contain carbohydrates.
- Green vegetables usually have very low levels of carbohydrates that can be converted into sugar.
- Fruits have more sugar than green vegetables but their sugar is called fructose. Some people think this is not absorbed very fast by our bodies.
- Whole grain products are lower in starchy carbohydrates and sugars than more refined grains are.
- Potatoes are very high in carbs because they are mostly starch.
- Anything that has sugar added is going to be very high in carbohydrates. Always read the ingredient list and most anything that ends in “ose” like sucrose and fructose is going to be a sugar.
If you have more questions then please leave a question in the comment section or you can send me a message directly. This is an important concept to understand.