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Low Carbs and Pregnancy - Part 2

Not All Carbohydrates are Created Equal

It's true, a carbohydrate-rich diet can inflate appetite and girth. Low carb diets do promote short-term weight loss, but also some severe dangers, especially during pregnancy. So what to do? The truth is, you can have your carbs and eat them too. You just have to know how to choose them.

All carbohydrates are not created equal. There are basically three types of carbohydrates: Simple, Complex, and Indigestible.
  • Simple Carbohydrates are composed of 1 or 2 sugar units.
  • Complex carbohydrates are made up of many sugar units. They are structurally more complex?hence the name.
  • Indigestible carbohydrate is also called fiber. The body is unable to breakdown fiber into units small enough for absorption. It is therefore not an energy source for the body but does promote health in many other ways.
During digestion, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose before they can enter the blood stream and into the body's cells with the help of insulin. Recent research has shown that certain carb-rich foods can cause extreme surges in blood sugar level and insulin release. This can increase one's appetite and the risk of excess fat storage. Other carbohydrate foods have been shown to enter the blood stream gradually and trigger only a moderate rise in insulin levels.

Simple carbs, complex carbs, and fiber are found in many foods, as listed below:
  • Sugar, syrup, candy, honey, jams, jelly, molasses, soft drinks?contain simple carbohydrates and little if any nutrients.
  • Fruit?contains primarily simple carbohydrate but also valuable vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
  • Vegetables?contain varying amounts of simple and complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
  • Legumes such as dried beans, peas, soybeans?contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Milk products? contain simple carbohydrates along with protein, calcium and other nutrients.
  • Grain products?contain complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. The amounts vary depending on the type of grain used and the amount of processing.
Therefore, to follow an extremely low carbohydrate diet would be disastrous, dangerous, and above all, boring! Unrefined carbohydrates found in whole grain products, brown rice, and bran cereals are digested slowly. They contain vitamins, minerals and fiber to promote health. Fiber and nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and beans have many important functions for the body. Dismissing these foods because they contain carbohydrates is short-sided. Carbohydrates are NOT the enemy. Including the appropriate amount and type of carbohydrate food is the correct course of action.
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. She teaches prenatal classes and counsels individuals, helping women eat right and stay fit before, during and after their pregnancies.
Becky Hand

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