July 2021

Carbohydrates: Whole vs Refined - What Is the Difference?

As a whole - finding the correct information regarding health and nutrition can be TRICKY because our bodies are such complex machines. There are many different views on what to eat for fat loss and a lot of focus on CARBS. So, should we eat them?

When should we eat them? Or are they actually correctly demonised?

Well, hang with me while I explain the reasons why such a debate might exist:

The dietary guidelines in Australia suggest almost half our diet should be made up of carbohydrates each day. The research also indicates that carbs may lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes and should be avoided at all costs.

Those who are hooked up on what the caveman used to eat will tell you that carbs will kill you. And those who are "Going Keto" or sticking to a Ketogenic diet will recommend you to reduce them to an absolute minimum if you are going to lose anything at all!

While there are many different thoughts on carbohydrates - our bodies absolutely need them to work well. They are an essential part of our calorie intake after sleeve gastrectomy or bypass surgery. One of the main reasons is that our BRAIN needs carbs for fuel and several other vital functions.

So what even is a CARB?

In the world of nutrition, the word carb refers to one of the three macronutrients. The others are fats and protein.
Carbs have three main categories:

    These are sweet, short-chain or simple carbs such as glucose, fructose, galactose and sucrose.

  • Anything you see on a packet that ends with -OSE - is just a fancy name for quick-hit carbohydrates. 
    Longer chains of glucose molecules that are reduced to glucose in the digestive system.
    Foods like potatoes, rice, cereals, bread, pasta, are again quickly processed parcels of energy for when you need it fast.

FIBRE: Our bodies can't digest fibre, but our gut bacteria LOVES to feed on it. It has far-reaching effects on Satiety (feeling full), preventing weight gain, improving our immune health, bowel regularity, and detoxification. It’s reducing excess oestrogen in the body, cholesterol and lipid levels.

To further break down the types of cabs you'll find in foods, let me explain simple or refined carbohydrates VS complex carbs.

Simple carbs are sugars. While some are natural, like the ones you find in milk, most are added to foods, and they include:

  • Raw Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Corn Syrup and high fructose corn syrup
  • Glucose, fructose and sucrose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Breakfast cereals

Complex carbs are, well...... complex!

For once in our lives - the more complex, the better! 

These guys pack a punch of nutrition, generally providing us with some healthy B group vitamins for energy production and vitality. Complex carbohydrates are more filling.

Making them great for long-term weight loss surgery patients who are starting to see hunger return or have been experiencing constipation.

Complex carbs are found in food such as:

  • Vegetables
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Legumes
  • Potatoes
  • Whole Grains

So carbs have a lot to offer; it’s just a matter of knowing the TYPE of carbs found in certain foods and knowing when to use them. 

My main advice being: 

Include complex carbs in your protein-rich meals, with some healthy fats to keep the slow burn effect going, keep you full, regular and feed your brain well. 

Steer away from refined carbohydrates found in processed foods, white bread, sweets, alcohol and baked goods. Not only do these raise your blood sugar levels - they spike insulin as a response, and the Weight Loss 101 Mantra is"In the presence of insulin, using energy from fat stores cannot occur." 

When you're loading up on refined carbsspiking insulin and blood glucose levels, you'll be hungry sooner, craving more and feeling tired as a result - precisely the opposite of what you have set out to achieve by embarking on the WLS journey.

The research on high fibre diets shows that eating vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, improves metabolic health and reduces the incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease

 Going back to our low carb fans - Mr Paleo and Mrs Keto. While these diets have their merits and benefits, such as being low inflammatory, auto immune-supporting, and can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures. They are termed therapeutic diets because they should be carried out under professional supervision and for a short period.

Ketogenic states will bring about fat loss, but the research emerging on long term results for WLS patients supports the following division of macronutrients once you're back on solid foods:

  • 20-25% Protein
  • 40 - 45% Carbohydrates
  • 5-15% dietary Fats
  • Always discuss your overall plan with your professional team
  • Eat your protein first at every meal
  • Eat a wide range of colourful fruit and veg and other complex carbs, such as legumes and whole grains

The Glycemic Index table of foods has been established to help keep blood glucose balanced and encourage weight management. 
Choose those that are below 55 where possible.

Here is a link to more information on this easy way to feel assured you are keeping insulin under control: Read More

Jacqui Lewis

BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine

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