Fast carbs have a high glycemic index, or GI, and result in sharp rise in your blood sugar levels and large fluctuations in your blood sugar and energy levels. A diet rich in high-GI carbs increases your risk for cardiovascular diseases or type-2 diabetes. The best moment to consume fast carbs is 30 to 60 minutes before working out, as the sugar circulating in your blood will be used for energy by your muscles. On the other hand, slow carbs have a low GI and result in more even blood sugar levels between your meals. Slow carbs are associated with a healthier body weight and improved blood cholesterol profile.
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A typical breakfast contains a lot of fast carbs. For example, most breakfast cereals—including corn flakes, oat rings, puffed rice, puffed wheat and bran flakes—and instant oatmeal, instant cream of wheat, white or whole-wheat toasts have a high GI. A slow carb diet plan can include a bowl of steel-cut oats, old-fashioned oatmeal or quinoa mixed with plain yogurt, cottage cheese, berries, almonds or peanut butter. You can use honey, which is a slow carb, in small amounts. Alternatively, your slow carb breakfast could be scrambled eggs with cheese and spinach accompanied with a slice or two of sourdough bread.
A typical lunch has a lot of fast carb foods, including sandwiches, paninis or subs on white or whole-wheat bread, French fries, white or brown rice and muffins. To feel better and have enough energy all afternoon, choose low-GI, slow carbs. For example, a lentil soup with some cheese, a bean salad, a sandwich made with sourdough bread or stone-ground whole grain bread or a big salad of leafy greens with avocado, nuts, chicken and an olive-oil-based vinaigrette are good options. To satisfy your sweet tooth, go for a plain yogurt mixed with unsweetened applesauce, diced pear and cinnamon or strawberries.
Avoid fast-carb, high-GI foods at dinner, such as white or brown rice, white or whole wheat buns, baguettes and breads, mashed or baked potatoes and desserts like cookies and cakes. Instead, base your meal on slow-carb foods. Include plenty of non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, mushrooms and asparagus, a serving of protein from fish, poultry or meat, and healthy fats from olive or canola oil. Your slow-carb food for dinner could be sweet potato, whole grain pasta, basmati rice, winter squash, barley or quinoa. Treat yourself with slow carbs for dessert, such as dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa or a small serving of homemade cookies made with old-fashioned oatmeal and stone-ground whole grain flour and very little sugar.
Most snack foods are fast carbs, and although they can provide you with a quick source of energy, it is usually soon followed by a crash in your energy and blood sugar levels. Stay away from potato chips, pretzels, rice cakes, rice crackers, granola bars, scones and doughnuts. Choose slow carbs instead, such as any temperate climate fruits, including apples, plums, pears, cherries or oranges, nuts (almonds, walnuts or macadamia nuts), plain yogurt mixed with unsweetened applesauce or berries or homemade granola bars made with old-fashioned oatmeal, nuts, seeds and very little sugar.