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Carbohydrates Don’t Make You Fat

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Carbohydrates alone don't make you fat. Taking in more calories than you burn will increase your body fat and weight. Carbohydrates are your body's preferred source of energy. The types of carbohydrates you eat are important.

Being aware of the glycemic index (GI) of certain foods can help you control your body fat. It is a numerical index that ranks carbohydrates based on their rate of glycemic response, or their conversion to glucose within the human body. The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, with higher values given to foods that cause the most rapid rise in blood sugar. Pure glucose is the reference point and has a GI value of 100.

The glycemic index is important because your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant. When blood sugar drops too low, you become listless or experience increased hunger. If it goes too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin. Although insulin will bring your blood sugar back down, it does so primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat.

For non-diabetics, there are times when a rapid increase in blood sugar is desirable. For example, some coaches and trainers recommend high GI foods (like sports drinks) immediately after exercise to help speed recovery.

Another way to control your GI is to also control your glycemic load (GL). Glycemic load can be controlled by the type and amount of carbohydrates you consume. So, GI and GL work together to control your glycemic response.

Listed below is a table showing GI for some common foods. Glycemic indexes of 55 or below are considered low, and 70 or above are considered high. Glycemic loads of 10 or below are considered low and 20 or above are considered high.

Food GI, Serving Size, Carbs, GL

Peanuts 14, 4 oz (113g), 15, 2
Bean sprouts 25, 1 cup (104g), 4, 1
Grapefruit 25, 1/2 large(166g), 11, 3
Pizza 30, 2 slices (260g), 42, 13
Low-fat yogurt 33, 1 cup (245g), 47, 16
Apples 38, 1 medium (138g), 16, 6
Spaghetti 42, 1 cup (140g), 38, 16
Oranges 48, 1 medium (131g), 12, 6
Bananas 52, 1 large (136g), 27, 14
Brown rice 55, 1 cup (195g), 42, 23
Honey 55, 1 tbsp (21g), 17, 9

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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