Complex Carbohydrates - Making The Right Choice For Clean Carbs

complex carbohydratesThere is such a misconception and so much confusion on carbohydrates that people could be missing out on important nutrients that can aid in health, fitness and weight loss. So to make it really easy, just try to always go for complex carbohydrates. If you want to go one step further and healthier, stick to low glycemic carb foods.

So, what are these complex carbs, what is a glycemic index and what are low glycemic index foods? Below you will find the definition and a list of complex carbs:

  • Potatoes are a carbohydrate, but a better choice are sweet potatoes.
  • Legumes (beans lentils and split peas).
  • Whole wheat, brown pasta, brown rice, carrots, quinoa, barley, and whole grains.
  • Bran, maize (corn), buckwheat, cassava.
  • Some fruits and vegetables, but they tend to be low in carbs.
  • Oatmeal, muesli, shredded wheat, and other wholegrain high fiber cereals.

So, What Is The Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index or GI describes the difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels. Low GI carbs, the choices that produce small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels is the secret to success in long term health, weight loss, and reducing various diseases. So what are some low Glycemic index foods? Below find a list and where they rank on the list. The lower the number, the better the carb is for you.

Foods with a GI value of 55 or less is considered low. Below is a chart of low glycemic foods:

Fruits
Veggies
Grains
Breads
Legumes
Cheese
apples
artichokes
buckwheat
100% sprouted whole wheat
baked beans
American
dried apples
asparagus
kasha
Ezekiel bread
black beans
Blue
blueberries
brussels sprouts
bulgar
oat bran bread
garbanzo beans
Brie
oranges
bean sprouts
quinoa
wholemeal barley bread
peas
Cheddar
limes
black eyed peas
rice bran
multigrain bread
navy beans
Colby
lemons
broccoli
pearled barley
9 grain bread sprouted
black-eyed peas
Cottage cheese
berries
cabbage
rye
wheat pita bread
butter-beans
Cream cheese
honeydew
cauliflower
amaranth
kidney beans
Edam
melon
celery
wheat kernels
soybeans
Feta
tomatoes
collard greens
oats
chick peas
Fontina
cucumber
oat bran
pinto beans
Goat
eggplant
escarole
lentils
Gouda
endive
lima beans
Gruyere
water chestnuts
Monterey
lima beans
Mozzarella
mustard greens
Muenster
green beans
Parmesan
red bell pepper
Provolone
yellow bell pepper
Ricotta
leeks
Romano
mushrooms
Roquefort
olives
Swiss
peas
pickles
radishes
spinach
split peas
sweet potatoes
turnips
greens
arugula
chick peas
garbanzo beans
green peppers
kale
kohlrabi
lettuce
okra
onions
scallions
swiss chard
snow peas
yellow squash
yams
zucchini
avocado
sauerkraut


Nuts
complex carbohydrates nutsNuts are low glycemic and a great source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Caution! Because they have a high fat content and so small and easy to pop in your mouth, you could eat more than you need to. A snack of 7 raw nuts at one sitting is a reasonable amount. You can add them to salads, yogurt and oatmeal. Doing so gives you a meal or snack higher in protein, good fat, and may keep you fuller longer.

Fats, Oils, Butter and Mayonnaise
Although most fats, oils, butter and mayo are low glycemic, it does not mean to load up or that they are preferred over food that are even moderate on the glycemic index. It is important to make choices when in comes to fats that are omega 3 fats (some include olive oil, seeds, fish, nuts). Omega 6 fats should be consumed in smaller portions. Between the two, always go for the omega 3. Some omega 6 fats include butter, meats, and other types of oils.

Below are the better choices when it comes to oils:

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Corn oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Omega-3 Foods (the better of the two omega’s)
  • striped bass
  • mackerel
  • wild trout
  • almonds
  • pecans
  • sunflower seeds
  • flaxseed oil
  • any nut/seed oil
  • Dairy and Plant Milks
  • wild salmon
  • oysters
  • tuna
  • walnuts
  • pumpkin seeds
  • flaxseed meal
  • canola oil
  • pumpkin seeds
  • herring
  • sablefish
  • brazil nuts
  • sesame seeds
  • avocado
  • olive oil

This list is not complete by any means, but it is a good starting point in understanding carbohydrates. Carbohydrates have been given a bad rap. Complex carbohydrates rich in fiber, nutrients, and low on the glycemic index are not only good for you, but are mandatory if you are trying to stay healthy, lean out, and have enough energy to get through the day, and complete a workout.

Side Note:
Portion size has been the topic of quite a few articles and studies lately. It seems we as Americans, are delusional about how much we really eat. Some experts have gone even as far as saying that the overweight person who has been claiming that they eat nothing and still gain weight are not being honest, or are ignorant about what they are eating and drinking. Those 100 calorie snacks add up when you have 10 a day. Plus your regular meals, or mindless snacking while watching TV or doing something else where your mind is focusing on what you are engaged in, not the calories you are inhaling. Be aware of what you put into your mouth, and how much you are eating. Keep a journal if you need to for a couple of days. This will give you an idea about your mental state when it comes to food, calories, and snacking. Ignorance is bliss in some scenarios. But not one where your body weight is involved.

By Diane Mohlman