Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

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Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby JeffN » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:00 pm

Clarifying Carbs: Making The Complex Simple

I can't think of anything that creates more confusion and is more misunderstood than carbohydrates.

To help understand carbohydrates and the recommended vs. not recommended types/forms, I will break them up into 6 groups, 3 of which will be important to you.

1) Unrefined, Unprocessed Carbohydrates

These are foods that we can consume in their most natural form, or "as grown in nature." Examples of these foods include intact whole grains that we consume in their intact form (such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, wheat berries), starchy vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, yams, corn, peas, potatoes, winter squash) and legumes (such as beans, dried peas and lentils). These foods are not only low in calories, but also low in calorie density and high in fiber and nutrients, so they fill you up with fewer calories. Enjoy these foods as a regular part of your diet.

(The calorie density of these foods is around 300 to 700 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)

2) Unrefined, Processed Carbohydrates Low in Calorie Density

These are foods that are made from whole grains but the whole grain was ground into whole grain flour first and then made into the final food. Examples of these foods include whole grain pasta, including pastas made from whole wheat, brown rice, corn or buckwheat. The reason these foods are low in calorie density is that, during the cooking process, they absorb a large amount of water back into their structures, which lowers calorie density. These foods are also very high in fiber and a rich source of nutrients, so they will fill you up for fewer calories. Enjoy these foods as a regular part of your diet.

While these foods are low in calorie density, the mechanical process of grinding the whole grain into a whole grain flour before making them into the whole grain pasta does raise a concern. The mechanical grinding of food results in a less effective fiber (see my post on Fruit, Fiber, Form and Satiety) and increases the surface area of the food so it is more readily absorbed. So, even though these foods are made from whole grains, this increase in the surface area and the rate of absorption may pose a temporary and minor problem for those who are highly insulin resistant while they are getting well. The disruption of the fiber can also make these foods less satiating which can pose a problem for those trying to manage their weight. Therefore, it may be prudent to eliminate these and if so, their best choices would be intact unrefined, unprocessed carbs.

(The calorie density of these foods is around 500-600 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)

3) Unrefined, Processed Carbohydrates High in Calorie Density

These are foods that are made from 100% whole grains but the whole grain was ground into whole grain flour first and then made into the final food. These foods are consumed in a dry state. Examples of these foods include whole grain bread, whole grain bagels, whole grain crackers and whole grain dry cereal. While these foods are high in fiber and nutrients, they can be easy to overeat on because they are higher in calorie density. Therefore, for those who are concerned about their weight, these foods should be either limited or eliminated from their regular diet.

In this case, the mechanical process of grinding the whole grain into a whole grain flour before making them into a whole grain food raises two concerns. First, since these foods do not absorb any water back into their structure before they are consumed, they are much higher in calorie density. Second, the mechanical grinding of food results in a less effective fiber (see my post on Fruit, Fiber, Form and Satiety) and increases the surface area of the food so it is more readily absorbed. So, even though these foods are made from whole grains, this increase in the calorie density, the surface area and the rate of absorption may pose a problem for those who are overweight and/or diabetic and/or highly insulin resistant while they are getting well. The disruption of the fiber can also make these foods less satiating which can pose a problem for those trying to manage their weight. Therefore, it may be wise to eliminate these and if so, their best choices would be intact unrefined, unprocessed carbs.

(The calorie density of these foods is about 1200 to 1800 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1 oz, which is 1 slice of whole grain bread, 1 cup of whole grain dry cereal, or 1/2 a small whole grain bagel.)

The above three choices are the healthiest forms of carbohydrates.

4) Refined Carbohydrates

These are foods that have been refined, which means most, if not all of the bran and/or the germ have been removed. One example is white rice. While these foods are low in calories and low in calorie density, they have had most (if not all) of their fiber removed; in addition, they lose many valuable nutrients in the refining process. Always choose the whole grain variety of these foods (i.e., brown rice).

(The calorie density of these foods is around 500-600 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)

5) Refined, Processed Carbohydrates Low in Calorie Density

These are foods that are made from refined grains but the refined grain was ground into flour first and then made into the final food. One example is pasta that has been made from white flour. The reason these foods are low in calorie density is that, during the cooking process, they absorb a large amount of water back into their structures, which lowers calorie density. While these foods are low in calories and low in calorie density, they have had most (if not all) of their fiber removed. In addition, they lose many valuable nutrients in the refining process. Always choose the whole grain variety of these foods (i.e., whole grain pasta).

(The calorie density of these foods is around 500-600 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)

6) Refined, Processed Carbohydrates High in Calorie Density

There are foods that are made from refined grains but the refined grain has been ground into flour first and then made into the final food. These foods are consumed in a dry state. Examples of these foods include breads, bagels, crackers and dry cereals that have been made from white flour. These foods have had most (if not all) of their fiber removed and they lose many valuable nutrients in the refining process. In addition, these foods can be easy to overeat on because they are higher in calorie density. Therefore, for those who are concerned about their weight, these foods should be either limited or eliminated from their regular diet. Always choose the whole grain variety of these foods (i.e., whole grain breads, bagels, crackers and dry cereals).

(The calorie density of these foods is about 1200 to 1800 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1 oz, which is 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of dry cereal, or 1/2 a small bagel.)

NOTE: Refined carbohydrates and refined processed carbohydrates, regardless of their calorie densities, are not recommended and should be minimized, if included at all.

National recommendations are for us to consume at least 3 servings of whole grains per day. This is a minimum recommendation; in addition, it does not make the distinction between unrefined intact whole grains, unrefined, processed whole grains low in calorie density, and unrefined, processed whole grains high in calorie density, which is important to know, especially for those who are trying to manage their weight, insulin resistance and/or diabetes. I would encourage the consumption of at least 3 or more servings of whole grains per day. Not only will they help fill us up for fewer calories, they will help provide many of the important nutrients and phytochemicals we need.

In Health,
Jeff
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby landog » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:58 pm

Potatoes are number one!

Thanks, Jeff!
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby afreespirit » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:02 pm

Thanks again to the incomparable Jeff. :)
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby JeffN » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:46 pm

debbie wrote:So on this list, where would corn tortillas fall?


If they are made from whole grain corn, then they would be an unrefined, processed carb, higher in calorie density.

debbie wrote:since they both have the same calorie density.


As stated above, the calorie density of whole grain pasta is about 500-600 calories per pound and corn tortilla's are about 1000 calories per pound, so almost double that of whole grain pasta.

debbie wrote:Thanks for this clarification.


You are welcome.

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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby somnolent » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:02 am

Thank you, JeffN, for that very clear explanation. Understanding the three variables of refinement, processing, and calorie density make it so much easier to assess whether a particular starchy food is healthy or not.

Am I correct in saying that refinement is the most important variable of the three? You do not recommend refined carbohydrates at all, but you do allow for processed ones and ones with high calorie density.
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby pinkrose » Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:57 am

somnolent wrote:Thank you, JeffN, for that very clear explanation. Understanding the three variables of refinement, processing, and calorie density make it so much easier to assess whether a particular starchy food is healthy or not.

Am I correct in saying that refinement is the most important variable of the three? You do not recommend refined carbohydrates at all, but you do allow for processed ones and ones with high calorie density.


Yes, this is so enlightening that it may be good to keep it near the top of your board, Jeff! Thanks! :-D
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby JeffN » Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:10 am

somnolent wrote:Am I correct in saying that refinement is the most important variable of the three?


Yes.

According to the FDA, refining, in regard to grains, generally involves the mechanical removal of the bran and the germ. These two components provide valuable nutrients for us so it is important not to remove them.

somnolent wrote:You do not recommend refined carbohydrates at all, but you do allow for processed ones and ones with high calorie density.


Correct.

Everything we do to a food, from picking it, to slicking it to washing it to cooking it is a "processes" in one way or another. Some processing, including the ability to dry food, freeze food, etc are of value to us. Other processes, such as the refinement of grains and the hydrogenation of oils, are not valuable to us from a health perspective and can even be harmful.

There are two concerns with processed grains when the process is the grinding of them into a flour. The first is the increase in calorie density that happens to them most of them. The only exception I know of, as stated above, is pasta, as it absorbs most of the water back into its structure during the cooking. The second is the mechanical grinding of food results in a less effective fiber (see my post on Fruit, Fiber and Form) and increases the surface area of the food so it is more readily absorbed. The disruption of the fiber can also make these foods less satiating which can pose a problem for those trying to manage their weight.

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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby Starchyme » Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:58 am

Jeff, just want to mention I just finished watching your segment on the new HealthyLivingExpo set. Though I've seen you at NAVS many times, and once in Maryland, I alwaysnever tire of them. There's always something new to learn. The other 4 new DVD's will be watched throughout our snowy weekend! Thanks for all you do.
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby JeffN » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:07 am

HealthE1 wrote: Jeff, just want to mention I just finished watching your segment on the new HealthyLivingExpo set. Though I've seen you at NAVS many times, and once in Maryland, I alwaysnever tire of them. There's always something new to learn.


Thanks. It was a lot of fun and a new perspective on some things. I wish I had a little more time as I had to run through the last few slides. Maybe next year!

HealthE1 wrote: The other 4 new DVD's will be watched throughout our snowy weekend! Thanks for all you do.


Thank you!

Enjoy the DVD's. :)

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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby JeffN » Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:28 am

somnolent wrote:Thank you, JeffN, for that very clear explanation. Understanding the three variables of refinement, processing, and calorie density make it so much easier to assess whether a particular starchy food is healthy or not.

Am I correct in saying that refinement is the most important variable of the three? You do not recommend refined carbohydrates at all, but you do allow for processed ones and ones with high calorie density.


Just wanted to say thanks again!

I decided that the points you brought up are importanPt enough to be included in the original article, so I have edited it to cover these issues.

Thanks!

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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby somnolent » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:27 am

Great!
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby frozenveg » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:03 am

Thank you, Jeff! This is incredibly helpful, and I agree with Pinkrose, this should be at the top of your list in your favorites!

It is good to keep reinforcing the information about carbohydrates, for two reasons: one, we McDougallers need to make decisions and choices in which starches to eat, especially at restaurants, and this helps us make those choices (sometimes the lesser of two evils). And second, we are sometimes called upon to defend, or at least discuss intelligently, our consumption of all these potatoes and whole grains. You have laid this out in a way that is organized and sensible, and I can carry this chart in my head (although I might not be able to remember the calorie density numbers correctly)!

Although, when it comes to defending my consumption of all the brown rice and potatoes my co-workers have seen me consume: (to slightly misquote a phrase) losing well is the the best defense!!
5'3", 69 YO. Started Jan. 11, 2010
Starting weight: 222.6
Current weight: 129.2
93.4 lbs lost, as of Oct. 2011


Following the McDougall plan gave me my life back! Thank you, Dr. McD!
http://www.drmcdougall.com/stars/cloudy_rockwell.htm
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby Plumerias » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:48 pm

pinkrose wrote:
somnolent wrote:Thank you, JeffN, for that very clear explanation. Understanding the three variables of refinement, processing, and calorie density make it so much easier to assess whether a particular starchy food is healthy or not.

Am I correct in saying that refinement is the most important variable of the three? You do not recommend refined carbohydrates at all, but you do allow for processed ones and ones with high calorie density.


Yes, this is so enlightening that it may be good to keep it near the top of your board, Jeff! Thanks! :-D
I agree, it should be near the top always. It would be so very useful to newbies.
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby vegan_iowa » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:12 pm

Probably a dumb question but - here goes: does 'processing' foods in a blender change them for the worse in any way? I am asking because every morning for breakfast I blend a Cup of rolled oats, a banana, a Cup frozen (unsweetened) fruit, a Cup lite soymilk and some water. I really enjoy it, it's fast and filling, and most importantly satiates me for a 3 to 4 hours.
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Re: Clarifying Carbohydrates: Making The Complex Simple

Postby JeffN » Mon Jan 10, 2011 1:23 pm

vegan_iowa wrote:Probably a dumb question but - here goes: does 'processing' foods in a blender change them for the worse in any way? I am asking because every morning for breakfast I blend a Cup of rolled oats, a banana, a Cup frozen (unsweetened) fruit, a Cup lite soymilk and some water. I really enjoy it, it's fast and filling, and most importantly satiates me for a 3 to 4 hours.


I would recommend you read the following thread

viewtopic.php?f=22&t=15419

Remember, it is not just satiety, but satiety per calorie that matters and the more you blend food, the lower the satiety per calorie. So, you will get as full for less calories if you consume the food in its whole form.

Also, remember, we recommend non-dairy milks as a condiment only so a "splash" or two on your oatmeal and not to be drank by the cup. Liquid calories do not create much satiety.

I would recommend you cook the oatmeal in the water, add the sliced banana and put a splash of soymilk on it. You will be able to consume much more food volume for less calories.

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