IN THE FIRST part of this series dealing with losing body fat, I advised that eating more raw food, especially raw vegetables, is an easy shortcut to feeling satiated without the massive calorie overload often encountered with calorie dense cooked food, or even worse, fast food and junk snacks. Eating your fill of healthy, calorie light foods without the subsequent hunger pangs and their associated binges or snacking is a great way to control your calorie intake.
The second simple secret to fat loss is to go rough when it comes to carbs. Bear this motto in mind at all times: “simple is bad, complex is good.”
I covered the Glycemic Index (GI) briefly in this look at Matakana Superfoods’ coconut sugar but in short, the GI is a way to measure how much specific carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels.
High GI foods are digested, turned into glucose and absorbed at great speed, resulting in major fluctuations of blood sugar and insulin levels, which is a bad thing in terms of long term fat gain, and logically, long term fat-loss. Low-GI foods on the other, hand get digested and absorbed at a much slower pace, leading to more gradual changes in blood sugar and insulin levels – this is a very good thing.
The numerical GI scale runs from 0 to 100, and all the ratings are relative to glucose, which comes in with a scary rating of 100 and forms the basis for the entire system.
The simpler and/or more processed a carbohydrate is, the higher its GI rating will be – the lower numbers are good carbs (slow) while the high numbers are horrible carbs (fast).
Simply put, choosing a less processed and/or more complex carbohydrate source will ensure that your body is less likely to turn that carb into fat. In addition, lowering insulin levels in the body has a number of health benefits.
For example, let’s take a look at rice. Depending on which source you use and which study they refer to, short grain white rice has a GI of between 72 to 98, which is getting up there. At 98, you may as well be shoveling spoonfuls of sugar into your mouth (although the food you eat with the rice will have the effect of lowering its overall GI by slowing down its absorption).
Jasmine rice isn’t too far behind but when you get to basmati, brown and wild rice, and especially any of the long grained varieties, the GI drops each time, plummeting into the 40s and 50s depending on the type. You also get more nutrients at every step down because white rice is heavily processed, while the others – most notably brown and wild – are far less refined and have more of the original rice bran, germ and fibre.
The same applies to bread. Plain old white bread is high GI because it’s been refined and processed within an inch of its life, but if you choose a bread with more unrefined grains in it, the GI drops as the grains increase. Again, every step towards roughness also gets you more nutrients and fiber.
This concept works just as well with potatoes, cereals and biscuits as it does with rice and bread. It goes without saying that carbohydrate sources such as fizzy drinks and energy drinks are just sugar water, i.e. one of the simplest carbs there is, so they should be avoided at all costs except in an exercise scenario. Sipping something like a 600ml bottle of Coke (and its masses of sugar) while you’re at work is not a good plan, and drinking a bottle with a meal is an absolute nightmare. Don’t go there!
So the moral of the story is to pick the roughest form of carbohydrate you can whenever you’re given the choice. Skip the white bread and grab a loaf of rye or seven grain, forget the mashed potato and have the mashed kumara instead. Or even better, aim for a really rough carbohydrate such as chickpeas, which have a GI in the high 20s or low 30s.
Do this every time and you’ll not only be giving your body a better chance to lose its excess fat, you’ll also be making a healthier choice, which is even more important. ASHLEY KRAMER