Ben Warren from Be Pure On Carbohydrates - The Good and The Not So Good

Most of us are now aware how bad processed sugar is for our health. But what many people don’t realise is that processed grains are just as bad for you.

Processed grains are made of starches.  Starches are just glucose (sugar) molecules stacked on top of each other.  So when we eat processed grains, our bodies are able to get the sugar out of that food faster than eating sugar. 

For example if you eat 2 slices of brown bread, this raises your blood sugar faster than 5 teaspoons of sugar.  What then happens is our blood sugar levels go up, we get an insulin release which then drives it into fat.  (It is really hard to store fat when you don’t have an insulin release). 

We now know that if the body has to go through this daily for 15-20 years, it overwhelms the immune system for controlling sugar in your blood and that’s Type 2 Diabetes. 

You don’t have to be overweight or drink sugary drinks for this to be a problem either – if you experience drops in your blood sugar levels, for example you might get a sense of weakness or shakiness, get angry or easily upset, have blurred vision or brain fog, chances are you are not eating what is right for you.

Carbohydrates have for most of our history as a race been scarce, which has left us with an in-built mechanism that tells us to hunt them out. With the advent of grains, a process was started whereby it’s now harder to avoid them than it is to find them.

As a result, many people nowadays are getting 70, 80, sometimes as much as 90% of their calories from carbohydrate, which is wildly out of whack with our evolutionary history as a race.  No-one needs that much carbohydrate in their diet. They provide energy to your body extremely quickly, and then they are gone. This is especially so with processed carbohydrates. It’s hugely important to make this distinction between the natural carbohydrates found in fruit, nuts and leafy green vegetables, and the processed carbohydrates found in a can of fizzy drink or a loaf of white bread.

Natural carbs are essential. We need them for energy.  Processed carbs, your body has no need for whatsoever.  Eliminating them as far as possible from your diet is one of the first major steps towards improving your health.

Good carbohydrate sources:

  • Vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and a limited amount of whole cereal grains.

Bad carbohydrate sources:

  • Anything processed.
  • Anything with added sugar.

How much good carbohydrate should you have in your diet?

There are countless ‘diets’ out there these days, and the biggest problem with all of them is that they miss one very important factor…We are all different – very rarely does a diet or eating plan address our biochemical individuality.

There is no point starting any kind of eating regime, following any kind of eating model, without first determining your metabolic type.

When you buy a car you make sure you find out whether it takes petrol or diesel, right? The same principle applies to humans. If you are not giving your body the right fuel for its engine – your metabolism - you are just going to splutter along.

I was a vegetarian for six years.  During that period I was always hungry. During that period I was also overweight - not what would be classed as obese, but when I look at photos of myself back then I was chubby. I had too much body fat. I thought I was eating healthily - most people would associate vegetarianism with healthy eating choices, right?

But eating healthily is not as simple as that. There is no perfect diet, because we are not all the same. It turned out that, on a vegetarian diet, I had been eating pretty much the opposite of what my metabolism required to function properly. I learnt this through a process called ‘Macronutrient Profiling’. It’s a series of very simple tests that measure how well your body responds when you eat either fat, protein or carbohydrate.

This macronutrient profiling is now a major part of my BePure 6 week programme and a tool I use daily in my clinic to help my clients for their unique body types.

Ben Warren speaks at TEDx Tauranga 2014