Useful Stuff to Know » article » Low Glycemic Carb Trick for those Going Low Carb or are pre-Diabetic » Nov 10, 07:07 PM

Low Glycemic Carb Trick for those Going Low Carb or are pre-Diabetic

If you get tired after eating meals, you may be experiencing a sugar crash from too much glucose being dumped into your blood stream by fast-digesting carbohydrates. Common culprits include bread, potatoes, rice, mushy pasta, and sugary drinks. These convert into blood sugar too quickly, and if you eat too much of them at once it will wreak havoc on your body.

The sugar spike causes your pancreas to manufacture insulin at an alarming pace to get rid of this sugar by turning it into fat, which not only makes you fatter but stresses the pancreas. This quickly converts the sugar, but overcompensates when afterwards there is too much insulin remaining and not enough sugar to fuel your muscles and brain, hence you get tired and crash.

This spike and crash is incredibly dangerous. Every sugar crash is a step closer to diabetes, accelerated aging, cancer, and death. When the pancreas is stressed too often for too long, it ceases to function properly and can no longer produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels in check. Either that, or the body loses its ability to respond to insulin properly. Either way, the result is that meals will cause blood sugar to be too high for too long.

When sugar (fructose or glucose, which are the building blocks of most carbohydrates) circulates in the blood, under ordinary balanced conditions it provides fuel for the body. But when it is elevated, it has a much higher chance of accidentally “cross-linking” with proteins in your blood vessel walls, skin, muscles, and other tissues. This has the effect of hardening, scarring, and effectively burning those tissues. This is known as glycation and is one of the main contributors to aging. The chemical reaction behind glycation is the same one that turns meat brown when you cook it. Thus sugar literally causes your tissues to brown as if they were being cooked, just more slowly. Therefore a sugar spike will damage tissues and for the most part this cannot be reversed.

So for all these reasons, it’s important to avoid spiking your blood sugar. The way to do this is by eating foods that have a lower glycemic index, which is a measure of how quickly they digest, and more importantly ones with low glycemic load, which takes both the portion size and glycemic index into account.

Mainly it is fiber, fat, dryness, toughness, and protein that slow down the digestion of carbs. So a big bowl of rice porridge is about one of the worst things humans can eat because in being so mushy and having no fiber it digests very quickly. Meanwhile, pinto beans and green plantains are low glycemic because they are loaded with fiber.

Take a look at this list of foods and their Glycemic Index (GI): health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

For example, brown rice has a lower GI than white rice, hence why health advocates recommend it. However, brown rice is also higher in toxic metals such as arsenic and in the anti-nutrient phytic acid. To reduce phytic acid, brown rice is typically sprouted but even that still leaves much behind. White rice meanwhile has very little phytic acid, but it’s also low in nutrition and has virtually no fiber.

So if you were to eat rice, there is another solution, which is combine white rice with a nutritious, high fiber, low-phytic-acid carb. Now, in South and Central America as well as the Caribbean, it’s common for beans and rice to be eaten or cooked together, for this has the effect of combining a high GI food with a low GI one, creating a nicely balanced combination carb that give sustained energy without a sugar crash. However, the anti nutrients in beans are strong, and this kind of diet can exacerbate tooth decay and bone demineralization. Phytic acid binds with zinc and iron, and diets rich in phytic acid will lead to deficiencies in those, which can lead to stunted growth in children, which is why people from those regions tend to be short.

So if not beans, what else can be combined with rice? Well, one possibility is plantains. If you eat plantains by themselves, especially green plantains which taste more like potatoes, their GI is so low that your body may still think it’s starving even though having just eaten some.

Thus what you can do is obtain some plantains, cook them, and eat them with your meal. Aside from adding nutrients like vitamin A, C, potassium, and folic acid, the plantains serve to buffer the higher GI of rice or whatever carb you’re eating.

There are two ways to do this. One is to cook plantain together with the rice, the other is to just have the plantain as a side dish.

First the first method, take say two large or three medium green and firm plantains, peel and cut them up into little cubes. Combine with an equal amount of raw white rice and 1.5x as much water as the rice packet indicates. Add coconut oil and pinch of salt if you wish, and cook everything together per the rice instructions. The plantains must be green or at least firm, otherwise they’re so mushy that they keep the steam from passing between the rice grains and make a half-cooked bubbly mess.

The result is a bit tribal tasting, but from a nutrient and GI context it’s actually quite effective. You can thus custom taylor the GI of this dish by varying the rice to plantain ratio. Note, however, that this doesn’t work well with bananas because bananas have less fiber and even the green bananas are too mushy to shred. Green plantains taste like potatoes when cooked, so in effect you have a potato-ish rice dish this way. I consider this a superior alternative to beans-n-rice and brown rice, as far as carbs go. However beans are higher in protein, so there’s that trade-off.

In the second method, cut off the ends of plantains, then slice them into 3/4 inch wide discs, peel on. Lay the discs sideways (like hay bales) in a pan with shallow water, cover with lid, and steam for 10 minutes. You can add more layers in a pot if you want to cook a bunch at once. Yellow or soft plantains work well for this method. The skin peels off easily after cooking, versus green ones where it’s not as easy. Yellow/black plantains taste like bananas but have more substance. I prefer them for this method. Then with a meal, I eat three of these discs interspersed throughout the meal. They balance out the GI of the meal.

Another good balanced GI carb to eat by itself (without need for rice) is butternut squash, which is a pain to peel and cube and boil but I have never had a sugar crash with it no matter how much I ate.

If you are okay with the phytates and oxalic acid in beans, then they do offer copper, manganese, protein, and other important minerals that aren’t as present in plantains, whereas plantains have vitamin C, vitamin A, folic acid, and extra potassium. The purpose of the white rice, then, is merely to provide a base of calories that can be augmented and moderated in their digestion speed by the beans or plantains.