Do You Buffer Your Carbs?

Welcome to the weekend!  It's looking like a clear and chilly one for us on the Gold Coast - yes even here it is definitely Winter weather.  The perfect kind of weather to warm up your insides with heat producing foods which often stealthily makes its presence in our diet.  Many of us will be looking for some form of comforting carbohydrate or fuel laden fats over cleansing soups and juices, but this is not the time to be carbohydrate loading your diet!

In fact, in honour of National Diabetes week, there is really no good time to 'carb load' - even athletes are wary of this practice these days.  To explain further, each time you consume carbohydrates (usually found in breads, pastas, starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and sweet potatoes, grains like rice, oats and wheat, fruits, honey, sugar and of course processed foods with just about anything that ends in 'ose'), your body has to produce the hormone insulin to buffer off the rise of glucose in your system.  Without insulin, the glucose 'hit' could create a potentially dangerous condition called Ketoacidosis, a result of massive dehydration from the loss of urine and pH changes in the blood.  The end result can potentially be a diabetic coma and possibly worse.  Have you ever noticed how thirsty you get after a chocolate hit?

Essentially you need carbohydrates so your body can be provided with an efficient source of energy - however the current food pyramid in my opinion needs a lot of review in this area, because it guides us to consider mostly bready and grain based carbs, which leads us up the aisle of hidden sugars that potentiate insulin resistance (a condition where the cells simply don't respond any more to insulin, creating inflammatory conditions and pre diabetic states).

Efficient and insulin friendly carbohydrates can be found in seeds like quinoa, pumpkin and sunflower, in fibrous vegetables like celery, capsicum, beetroot and broccoli, in nuts like almonds, cashews, macadamia and brazil nuts and from smaller amount of fruits - however fruit sugars hit our bloodstream fast and furious - so they need a buffer zone to 'hold' the glucose up for longer, rather than spiking and dropping.

I've coined this phrase - "Carbohydrate Buffering" namely because most the human population that I see in clinic do find it difficult to maintain a diet on the foods mentioned above without some of the starchy foods earlier noted.  I figured that if you can't lead the horse to water, you may as well make the water healthier to here are my top ideas for buffering your carbs so to help with your health (weight, family history of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, arthritic conditions, chronic fatigue)

BUFFER TIP No 1.  Choose wholemeal or gluten free breads vs white breads - even the 'hi fibre' varieties

BUFFER TIP No 2. If you choose to eat breads daily, avoid teaming that with sweetened spreads like honey, jam and Nutella, and opt for either savoury spreads like avocado with tomato, ABC nut butter and mashed banana, mashed boiled egg or tuna/mayo/shallots blend.

BUFFER TIP No 3.  When eating fruit, team that up with some seeds, nuts, a little plain or coconut yoghurt or cream cheese.  A great idea is to thickly slice apples and spread nut butter or cream cheese (if dairy works for you) and eat like a sandwich.

BUFFER TIP No 4.  If you are going to drink a hot beverage and add sugar, you may as well choose the full fat variety.  Fats can also buffer, and low fat milk will just provide another high sugar source.  Better still, start replacing those drinks with hot lemon or green tea drinks.

BUFFER TIP No 5.  A great hot drink that fills the spot is a nut milk/cacao/honey/nutmeg/cinnamon combo.  The cinnamon and cacao improves glucose and fat metabolism, the nut milk buffers beautifully all carbs from the honey (as long as it hasn't got added sugars), and it is a great alternative to coffee for energy, taste and satisfaction.  Add a little chilli for a really active metabolic beverage.

BUFFER TIP No 6.  If you currently serve yourself more than half a cup of rice or pasta or oats in your meals, drop it back and add more buffer foods like vegetables and meats, add nuts and seeds to stir-fries and slivered almonds with coconut yoghurt to oats.  The grain should be the less featured item in the dish.

BUFFER TIP No 7.  Serial cereal eaters can buffer brilliantly by adding a half serve of protein powder to their milk before adding it to the cereal of choice.  If your cereal has added sugary bits like dried fruits - try and pick them out or choose one without - OR add extra nuts/seeds to buffer those as well.

Remember - insulin is a tricky infiltrator of the harmonious balance of the body - it can easily fool your metabolism into fat storage and crazy hunger swings...time to put it in it's place - stuck to a receptor!

For more buffer guidance, please contact Nicky to address this in your diet - +61 7 55939145

To have Nicky speak at your next conference, workplace training or human resources meetings, please email to nicky

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