Carbohydrate conscious diets have been a main component of the health industry for decades. Being aware of the nutrition you receive from the foods you choose includes understanding the different types of carbohydrates in those foods. Carbohydrates and foods in general have been traditionally classified according to their values on the glycemic index, which is a measure of how fast a food raises your blood sugar. Recently, this concept has been simplified to include both fast and slow carbohydrates, in order to make choosing appropriate foods easier. Fast carbohydrates are often foods that are processed, contain large amounts of sugar, generally cause a spike in blood sugar, and are digested quickly. Slow carbohydrates are usually more natural foods like vegetables or whole grains that cause a gradual increase in blood sugar and are digested slowly.
Making fast carbohydrate food choices is easy, because of the large amount of refined and processed food available. White breads, donuts, and all candy are examples of fast carbohydrates. Any food with a high amount of sugar or glucose is a fast carbohydrate. In order to receive the highest nutritional benefit from fast carbohydrates, choose to eat natural foods like fruits and potatoes.
Remember that slow carbohydrates or low glycemic foods contain less sugar and digest more slowly than fast carbohydrates. These types of foods generally occur in nature, like vegetables, or are made from whole grains. Look for foods high in fiber like spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and beans.
Timing the intake of slow and fast carbohydrates is an important method of regulating blood sugar and metabolism. Combine slow carbohydrates like onions and mushrooms with faster carbohydrates like bread and pasta to help your body easily regulate digestion and spikes in blood sugar.