This is one of the most commonly asked questions during my nutrition consultations. The simple answer to this complex question is:
No. What we want to focus on is adding carbohydrates to our diets that digest slowly. But what does this mean exactly? In addition to legumes, vegetables and fruits, choose fiber-rich, nutrient-dense whole grains that break down slowly during digestion and therefore don’t contribute to huge spikes in blood sugar. One of the big health problems we face today is consuming rapidly digestible carbohydrates, including refined and processed grains that are included in a variety of food products derived principally from refined wheat, corn and soy flours. These more quick burning carbs will create more peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels, negatively affecting our energy levels and, from an overall health perspective, will set us up for developing diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
So how do we add in whole grains to our diets? I suggest first learning about how to purchase and prepare gluten-free whole grains such as wild and brown rices, quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat. Many of these less popular grains are much easier to find now and are even being used in breads, pastas, and baking products. These whole grains are considered low ‘GI’ (glycemic index) carbohydrates which means they will burn more slowly over time providing sustained energy throughout the day. A side note to consider when consuming whole grains: in order to properly digest these foods, you’ll be required to do a bit more chewing to break them down before they make their fateful journey down the digestive tract.