Carbohydrates to check: low carb is useful – but under one condition

Without a doubt, foods rich in carbohydrates are the mainstay of most people's diets: bread, pasta, rice and potatoes in all their forms.

But carbohydrates have a bad reputation, so to speak. Better not to eat more carbohydrates in the evening because they make you fat overnight, so to speak. Anyone who also lives with low carbs during the day will be permanently thin. But these are not the facts, carbohydrates have very different properties and can be used specifically, so they are quite healthy.

What are carbohydrates?

Recognizing these relationships requires some basic knowledge: Carbohydrates, as well as proteins and fats, are one of the three main nutrients (macronutrients). "Unlike lipids and proteins, however, carbohydrates are not essential, so they are not essential and our body can live without carbohydrates," says Stefan Kabisch, professor at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE).

However, when nutrients are available, the body can quickly turn them into energy. However, for all cells to work with it, carbohydrates must first be broken down into glucose, which happens in the liver and intestines. Because carbohydrates are made up of individual sugar molecules. Depending on their number, there are two different carbohydrate groups:

1. Single and double (short chain) carbohydrates containing a sugar molecule (simple sugars, for example monosaccharides, including glucose, fructose and galactose) or two sugar molecules (double sugar, sucrose such as lactose, lactose and normal table sugar)

2. Long chain complex carbohydrates (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides) containing at least three sugar molecules, such as fiber cellulose and starch.

Short chain carbohydrates – the best example is sugar

  • The following foods contain a lot of mono- and disaccharides:
  • Sugar (Table sugar is composed of 100% sucrose, namely cane sugar, beet sugar
  • confectionery
  • biscuits
  • Fruit (fructose, therefore fructose, depending on the variety, eg berries, three grams per 100 grams, bananas 20 grams per 100 grams)

Long Chain Carbs – Whole Wheat Bread and Whole Grain

In contrast, these foods provide a large part of the long chain carbohydrate variant:

  • Whole grains
  • potatoes
  • Brown rice and pasta
  • Vegetables, legumes, nuts (but low carb)

Why Short Chain Carbohydrates Are Unfavorable – Three Reasons

In this context, "good" carbs and short chain carbs are often called "bad" carbohydrates. Why are short chains rather unfavorable?

1. "They separate very quickly, so that their individual components, so fructose or glucose, arrive quickly in the blood.The blood sugar level increases rapidly and strongly," says the scientist. The high rise in blood sugar levels requires a lot of insulin to further reduce blood sugar levels. "This reduction is usually just as fast and is followed by the fact that we are already hungry one hour after this meal." Inevitably, it is consumed more than what the body really needs.

2. The body can not store glucose indefinitely, only the liver and muscles can accumulate glycogen. "From 500 to 600 grams, however, these storage sites are full, so to speak," says the researcher. If excess glucose is not immediately burned in the form of energy, the body converts it into triglycerides and stores them in fat cells or even organs.

3. And if carbohydrates are already broken down into glucose, when they reach the top of the small intestine, as is the case for short-chain carbohydrates, the hormone GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide) is released into the pancreas. "It seems that the nutrients in the body are distributed rather unfavorably, so as to land in the liver as fat," described this fatal effect.

In short, short-chain carbohydrates make you hungry, fatter and increase the risk of fatty liver.

That's why long chain carbohydrates are healthier

In the case of long-chain carbohydrates, the individual members of the chain must first be split into glucose and must therefore be introduced only gradually into the blood and the cells. Glycemia increases slowly, saturation persists longer. "The more carbs are chained, the longer it takes," said Stefan Kabisch. Why this is so, it has not yet been clarified scientifically.

Long chain carbohydrates are then broken down into glucose only in the lower part of the intestine. In this area, glucose ensures that the pancreas is in turn stimulated to produce hormones – but this time it does not release the adverse GIP, but the hormone GLP1 (glucagon-like peptide 1), which ensures the saturation.

In simple terms, this means that long-chain carbohydrates are doubly full.

How many carbohydrates a day are healthy?

Since there is no real need for carbohydrates, there is no general guideline on the percentage of carbohydrates in the daily amount of calories. "The tolerance to carbohydrates is very different, so it's difficult to make a recommendation," says the scientist. In the past, the German Nutrition Society and the German Diabetes Association have consistently recommended low fat consumption and 50-55% of our energy requirements for carbohydrates.

"But this has not been proven by very good studies," says Stefan Kabisch. A number of studies are currently comparing high carbohydrate and low carbohydrate diets – but both regimes come to the same conclusions. The low carbohydrate level is slightly higher on average in terms of weight, blood pressure and blood sugar – but only in the short and medium term.

The healthiest people in the world consume a lot of carbohydrates

"But there are also people who live very healthily with 70% of carbohydrates," says the researcher, referring to the population of Okinawa. It is well known that most people over 100 live on the small Japanese island all over the world. Even among some primitive peoples there is this phenomenon. However, they are people who move a lot and therefore burn the energy of glucose quickly.

Low carb is useful – but under one condition

But on the contrary, as observational studies show, diets low in carbohydrates can extend the shelf life. However, Low Carb is not fully recommended. "If you limit carbohydrates, you should pay attention to the quality of the fats and proteins that you then eat more automatically," recommends the expert. For example, if you eat too much meat, you take in too much iron, saturated fat, and inflammatory mediators. The diet low in carbohydrates and therefore dominated by animals is a little less favorable than the one that relies more and more on plant foods.

However, it is very difficult to plant foods that are low in carbohydrates. Most vegetables are rich in carbohydrates. There are only a few foods left: nuts, vegetable oils, mushrooms. The beneficial effect of a low carbohydrate rate almost vegetarian is probably due to other non-nutritional factors, such as a healthy lifestyle featuring a lot of exercise, l & # 39; 39, absence of smoking and alcohol. Overall, there are no significant long-term studies, notes the researcher. In terms of weight, but seems to have little benefit in carbs – if not a lot of meat and other animal products are eaten. But that's why no one moves so much when he eats low carbs.

This is the best way to use carbohydrates

It's complicated. The proper handling of carbohydrates would actually be quite simple. The most important thing: "Eat as little as possible of simple short chain carbs, that is, sugar." This means not only the household sugar, but also the fructose in the fruits. Who dispenses sweets, but is a kilogram of grapes a day, also took 150 grams of sugar. In addition, honey and the popular, because the natural Pflanzenendicksäfte are finally sugar.

"Complex carbohydrates, which are fiber-related, are a great food," says Kabisch. Whole grains, legumes, vegetables – these are the foods recommended in this context. Potatoes, on the other hand, should not be on the table as often. They are low in fiber and are generally high in fat.

And what about the carbohydrate exemption after the day – the absence of carbohydrates after 5 pm? There is practically no study, there is still no basis for the corresponding recommendation, rejects Stefan Kabisch.

Mediterranean cuisine before 1950 has the best carbohydrate balance

"Overall, what matters is knowing what carbohydrates you eat and what you eat when you leave them," he summarizes, recommending the perfect diet, the original Mediterranean cuisine, it's to say before 1950. That means: without pasta and pizza. Then there is a moderately low carb diet, focused on fish, vegetables, legumes and vegetable oils. Meat, processed foods and even sweet products are barely planned.