One of the things that really annoy me most in this industry is when fellow trainers, who usually have little to no nutritional background or training whatsoever, talk about good carbs and bad carbs.  What does “bad” carb even mean?  Because the dictionary defines unhealthy as “Harmful to health” and this certainly isn’t true to any carb source, or even food with exception of added chemicals.  As soon as you start to think of carbs or any food for that matter as good or bad, you start yourself on a path to eating disorders.

Most people have heard (usually from some out-of-shape information repeating robot) that carbohydrate sources like brown rice, brown pasta, brown bread and sweet potatoes are healthy whereas white rice, white pasta, white bread and white potatoes are unhealthy.  This usually stems from how carbohydrates are rated on the Glycaemic Index.  The Glycaemic index is a measurement of how much 50g of a carbohydrate source will spike blood sugar on a fasted subject, with no other food sources consumed. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly don’t wake up and eat a loaf of plain bread and go to work, or massive bowl just rice and orange juice.   As soon as protein and fats are added to a carbohydrate source i.e. in any meal, they all affect blood sugar in a similar way.  This means if you’re eating a meal of steak and rice, no matter what type of rice you choose, you aren’t going to be hugely spiking blood sugar.  Any good nutritionist SHOULD know this, and if yours doesn’t then it’s time to #exposetheconmen.

More Brown Rice?

Some people I’ve spoken to actually aren’t even aware that the only difference between white and brown rice is the way they are produced and think they’re different plants.  With brown rice, only the outermost layer, the husk, is removed to leave brown rice.  With white rice the husk is removed along with the bran and germ layer leaving just the endosperm.  You’ll notice here that with white rice the bran is removed, meaning a lot of the fibre is also removed.

Looks like we’ve covered why carbs in a meal all affect blood sugar similarly, so what else could make a bad carb so bad? LOW FIBRE! I hear you scream, clenched fist.  Fair point, let me just rip it to shreds.   How many of you know someone who claims to have wheat or gluten intolerance?  This is very rarely the case (only about 1 in 100 people in the UK).  The real problem most people have from bloating is actually TOO MUCH fibre per meal in the diet, from constant choices of high fibre “good” carb sources they’ve heard they have to eat.

Does Eating Clean Mean They Wash Their Food?

Most people will require around 25g fibre per day for a healthy digestive system so let’s break this down into your “good carb” meals for all you “clean eaters” out there.  If your breakfast is a 100g bowl of porridge with a banana then that’s about 15g fibre.  Mid morning snack of 50g Almonds is 7g fibre.  Nearly at your target already with 22g!  Lunch is 200g bown rice with chicken and broccoli, 7g fibre.  Looks like you’re over your fibre target and it’s only lunch time!  Easy to get too much fibre which will cause bloating and actually stop efficient uptake of nutrients from food!

I guess I should wrap things up here by saying this – It REALLY, REALLY doesn’t matter what type of carbohydrates you have in your meal.  Your blood sugars are affected similarly regardless, and choosing simple carbohydrates in meal with fat and protein is certainly not a bad thing, it’s merely a matter of choice.  You certainly won’t see me chewing down brown pasta any time soon.