Carbohydrates: not all are absorbed the same way Carbohydrates: not all are absorbed the same way

Beyond talking about calories, it is important to understand what these foods do to your blood sugar levels.

Advisor: Sandra Patricia Alfaro
Nutritionist and dietician, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare

You may have heard that not all carbohydrates are the same in terms of the effects they have on your body. Thus, having eggs with arepa or bread for breakfast is not the same as having cereal, since it is likely that cereal will not hold you as long, and you will want to have your mid-morning snack sooner rather than later. This is important, especially for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes and even obesity because, more than focusing on a discussion about the calories this food group provides, there are other factors that need to be analyzed, such as the glycemic index.

Nutritionist dietician Sandra Patricia Alfaro explains that this is a numerical value assigned to carbohydrates and measures the speed with which our body digests them after consumption. Knowing the glycemic index helps control blood sugar values. In fact, studies show that foods with a low index, for example, less than 35, in addition to providing nutrients, contribute to these sugar levels being affected slowly and regularly, thus ensuring a consistent and long-lasting energy supply.

It helps with weight loss

While all bodies are not the same, and food needs are certainly different, knowing about the low-glycemic food group “can help you lose weight healthily because these foods help lower blood insulin levels in addition to making you feel full as a result of its high fiber content. To reach your weight loss goal, it is necessary that these foods are programmed within a balanced diet with the help of a nutrition professional,” adds the specialist.

It is important to consider not only the medical condition, but also the activity performed, among other factors which have an influence when defining times, portions, and types of food which are most recommended for your goal.

For example, for a person with diabetes, states nutritionist Alfaro, the recommendation is to eat six times per day: three main meals and three snacks, the last snack should be at about eight o’clock at night, something very light like a yogurt or almond or seed drinks. The important thing is to include foods from all groups in a balanced way.

A higher glycemic index means a higher speed of absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine, and a faster rise in blood sugar levels.


Answers to common dilemmas

  1. Should I eat eggs or oatmeal for breakfast?
    Have a protein, which could be eggs, meat, cheese, yogurt, or almond or soy milk, and a grain which could be oatmeal or barley. You can add vegetables to the eggs or cheese, or add fruit to yogurt or a seed drink. You can also have herbal tea.
  2. Should I have fruit or protein for my mid-morning snack?

          Ideally a yogurt or almond or seed milk.

  1. Should I drink juice with meals or is water best?
    It is best to consume fruit after your meal, and for a drink you could have herbal tea.
  2. Should I sweeten with honey, panela, or sweeteners?
    For a patient with diabetes it is best not to use any type of sweetener. If you like, you could use stevia, as natural as possible.
  3. Wheat, sourdough, or industrialized bread?
    Very well-made bread, ideally with oatmeal or quinoa, made with olive or coconut oil.

Variety is key to balance

Proteins: eating meat in general is recommended, fish, cheese, natural unsweetened yogurt, and eggs.

Grains: helps increase the consumption of barley, oatmeal, quinoa, black rice, and wheat bran.

Legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, white beans, sprouts and hummus, soy flour are all important.

Nuts and seeds: you could choose dried apricots, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, peanuts, as well as almonds, soy, and seed extracts.

Vegetables: variety is important: green beans, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, onion, chard, spinach, asparagus, cooked carrots, cooked and raw beets, artichoke, olives, mushrooms, kale, bell pepper, cucumber, squash, leeks, cabbage, fava beans, avocado, and carrots.