What are carbohydrates for?

Carbohydrates, in the form of starches and sugars, are the main fuel for our body which required in the largest amounts. It is recommended that carbohydrates should supply 45–65% of our total daily energy needs.

The brain, kidneys, muscles and heart all need carbohydrates to function properly, and carbohydrates aid in the synthesis of certain amino acids. Furthermore, fats can only be properly metabolized when carbohydrates are present and indigestible carbohydrates, in the form of dietary fiber, are necessary for intestinal health.

Glycemic index, GI, is calculated based on how quickly carbohydrates in food lead to an elevation of your blood sugar. The faster carbs rank in a food digest, the higher the glycemic index; the slower they rank, the lower the GI.

Carbohydrate comes in two forms:

1. Fast releasing carbohydrate (fast carbs)

Foods with high glycemic index, tend to give a sudden burst of energy followed by a slump. Refined foods like sugar and white flour lack of vitamins and minerals are best avoided. Regular consume can keep your blood sugar elevated and causing weight gain and elevated risk of type two diabetes, metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. However, athletes and muscle builders need to consume certain amount of fast carbs to prevent their body from breaking down muscle proteins to convert into energy.

Category Fast Carbs Foods
Fruits Banana, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherry, Cranberries, Grapefruit, Lychee, Melon, Pineapple, Plums, Raspberries, Watermelon
Vegetables Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Green Peas
Grains Breakfast Cereals, Instant Rice, Millet, White Boiled Rice
Snacks Rice Cakes, Ice Cream, Jelly Beans, Sweets, Corn Chips, Chocolate, Cakes, White Bread, White Pasta, Cookies, Honey, Jam, Soda

2. Slow releasing carbohydrate (slow carbs) 

Foods with low glycemic index, provide body with energy over an extended period of time without a rapid elevation in blood sugar. Choose foods with slow carbs throughout the day as a cornerstone of a healthy diet; high fiber content and low glycemic index can aid in weight loss combined with regular physical activity, also improves the management of diabetes and other glucose-related medical conditions.

Category Slow Carbs Foods
Fruits Apples, Grapefruit, Oranges, Prunes, Pear, Peaches, Dried Apricots, Plums, Pears, Strawberries
Vegetables Asparagus, Spinach, Lettuce, Radishes, Broccoli, Celery, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Eggplant, Cucumbers, Onions, Water Cress, Turnip Greens, Artichokes, Cauliflower, Beans and Lentils (Soybeans, Kidney Beans, Split Peas, Pinto Beans, Navy Beans), Cucumber, Radish, Carrots, Yams
Grains Barley, Whole Grains and their bran (Barley, Oatmeal, Buckwheat, Oat Bran), Muesli, Brown Rice, Wheat Germ, Millet, Cornmeal
Dairy Low-Fat Yogurt, Skim Milk
Seeds and Nuts Almonds, Peanuts, Walnuts, Cashews, Sesame Seeds, Flaxseed, Sunflower Seeds

Slow carbs should make up two-thirds of what you eat

Eat three or more servings of dark green, leafy and root vegetables such as watercress, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green beans, peppers etc., raw or lightly cooked.

  • Eat three or more servings of fresh fruit such as apples, pears, berries, citrus fruits etc.

  • Eat four or more servings of whole grains such as millet, rye, oats, whole-wheat, corn, quinoa as breads, pasta or cereal.

  • Avoid any form of sugar, foods with added sugar, white or refined foods.

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