Here is my personal list of good sources of carbohydrates. Explanations are below:
Bananas (but not overly-ripe)
White rice (but not brown rice)
Potatoes and sweet potatoes, yams (no skin)
First, all good sources of carbohydrates could be metabolic disease-promoting and all ‘fattening’ carbohydrates may not be fattening – depending on the composition of the diet, on the lifestyle of a person, as well as on their unique genetic makeup (genetic predisposition to store energy as fat).
If the carbohydrate sources listed above are consumed as a part of a healthy, balanced and minimally-processed diet, and if the total (per meal and daily) calories consumed do not systemically exceed the calories needed to maintain certain weight (based on the lifestyle of a person – ex. heavy labor, sedentary, etc.) then these carbohydrate sources would be my top choices to safely incorporate into a diet. The reason is they provide easily accessible energy for the vital organs – brain, red blood cells. Keep in mind carbohydrates as a macro nutrient group are a non-essential.
What are the main characteristics of a good carbohydrate source?
A safe/good carbohydrate source should be:
- Low in or free of lectins (glycoproteins), phytates and other anti-nutrients
- Easy to prepare with minimal processing time and procedures
- As close as possible to its natural form
- Not derived from a grain or a seed
- Not entirely or primarily consisting of (natural) sugars, like fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose and the like
- Satisfying (so it doesn’t promote over-eating)
Below are explanations on why each of these carbohydrate sources is in my “recommended carbs” list.
Bananas are about 25 percent carbohydrates and about 12 – 15 percent simple sugars, depending on how ripe they are. The greener the banana – the more resistant (indigestible, prebiotic) starch they contain, the more ripe – the more total carbohydrates and sugars they contain.
The protein and fat content in bananas are low. The sugars in bananas are fructose and glucose – about equal parts (just like in table sugar). The rest is starch.
Bananas contain the lectin BanLec (banana lectin), which has affinity to bind to certain sugars that are common to viruses, including the HIV virus. No negative effects on human health – at least none that I can find. Only the potential positive effect of BanLec’s ability to potentially protect from viral infections.
White rice is a grain, no?
Yes, it is a grain.
Rice does not contain gluten. It is about 80 percent starch, low in fat and protein, low in fiber and sugar. It’s a good source of carbohydrates, if additional carbs are needed in the diet.
The way I see it white rice (but not brown rice) is one of the most benign grains, as far as lectins, phytates and other anti-nutrients and irritants go. The bulk of the anti-nutrients associated with rice are found in the hull, husk, and bran. That’s why consuming brown rice as a source of carbohydrates is not a good idea. White rice has those anti-nutrients removed.
Long-grain rice varieties are less insulinogenic (elicit lower insulin response) in comparison to short-grain varieties. This is due to the higher amylose to amylopectin ratio (the two main starch components).
In summary, if you are going to have grains white rice is your best bet.
Potatoes are nightshades. Alkaloids? Lectins?
Regular and sweet potatoes are tubers that are high in easily accessible (when cooked) energy from carbohydrates. They contain about 16-20 percent carbohydrates in the form of starch and sugars, some protein and some fiber. Both types of potatoes are very satiating (they make you feel fuller sooner).
Yams are higher in starch and fiber, but lower in simple sugars.
The two alkaloids in potatoes (but not in sweet potatoes as they botanically belong to a different plant family) are solanine and chaconine. These alkaloids are a problem only if the potatoes look green and/or are sprouting. Non-sprouting normal-looking potatoes should be completely fine – with skin removed.
The lectin (anti-nutrient) in potatoes is called Solanum Tuberosum Agglutinin (STA). It is only about 50 percent active after cooking. STA may cause allergic reactions in 7 – 9 percent of the population – mostly in individuals who have other food-related allergies. But for the majority of the population they are a safe source of starch – when cooked and when not green and/or sprouting.
Why taro? What is taro any way?
I personally have never tried taro root, but I’ve seen it recommended many times – enough to spark my interest to where I look into it more closely to determine if satisfies my requirements for a safe source of carbohydrate.
Taro (dasheen) is the root of a perennial plant (fun fact: when I was a kid back in Bulgaria we had this plant as a decorative plant at home). Taro root is high in starch – 27 percent, and relatively high in fiber – 4 percent. It is low in protein and sugar. Its carbohydrates digest slower than potatoes and thus its consumption causes a more gradual insulin release.
Taro must be thoroughly cooked as cooking removes the calcium oxalate it naturally contains (calcium oxalate promotes kidney stones formation) .
Berries? Don’t they contain sugars?
Sure, they do. Fresh berries are about 85-90 percent water, relatively low in carbohydrates and total sugars, and relatively high in fiber (if for no other reason but for the satiety factor). Strawberries and blackberries are the lowest on carbs and highest in fiber, blueberries are higher in carbs and lower in fiber.
In general, berries (especially strawberries and blackberries) are quite low in total carbohydrates and sugar in comparison to other common fruit, like bananas, apples, etc. The carb and sugar load that you get from eating a typical serving of berries is several-fold lower than of a typical cup of other fruit. Their Glycemic Index is low and their Glycemic Load is very low.
Most importantly, they don’t fight you (except elderberries). In fact, not only don’t they fight you (they are low anti-nutrients) – but quite the opposite – they are designed to be eaten by animals (and humans). So, eat your berries. It’s not easy to over-eat on berries… if you eat them fresh, of course, and not in the form of strawberry jam or strawberry shortcake! You get the idea..
Why aren’t beans in the list?
Beans are roughly two thirds carbohydrates. It seams reasonable that they are at least considered as a good candidate to be included in my list.
There are two issues with beans – lectins and raffinose.
Lectins are the natural defense mechanism of legumes (also grains and seeds among other food sources). Beans developed these defense mechanisms in order to protect the species from extinguishing if eaten to extinction by animals (like humans for example). Same for grains and seeds, by the way.
Basically, lectins in beans are nothing to joke about. I don’t intend to cover lectins here, but the two main lectins in legumes are phytohemagglutinin and concanavalin A. Read up on them if you want to know why beans are not in my good/safe carbs list.
The beans that are highest in lectins are red kidney and white beans. If you plan on eating these beans never eat them raw/sprouted.
If you intent to eat any beans make sure they are soaked overnight – water changed often – and boiled for a long time… and be prepared to deal with the effects of raffinose..
Raffinose is a type of sugar in beans. Humans do not have the enzyme necessary to digest raffinose thus it passes through the upper portion of the digestive tract and ends up in the lower intestines where it is fermented by gas-producing bacteria. So, that’s that – you know the consequences.
What about wheat?
Like above, there are two issues with wheat – Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA – a wheat lectin) and gluten.
Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) is a lectin (a type of anti-nutrient). It causes, among other things, thinning of the intestinal mucosa and increased permeability (1, 2). Do some reading on it, but in short it’s not a fun thing to incorporate in your diet. Ironically, its concentrations are higher in whole-wheat breads and flour preparations – exactly the ones being recommended as ‘better-for-you’.
Gliadin – one of the two wheat proteins that make up gluten, the protein in wheat, is the cause of problems, related to celiac (aka coeliac) disease – an auto-immune disease found in roughly 1 percent of the population, and gluten intolerance – in 1 out of seven individuals. Gluten is one of the largest protein molecules in existence.
The body often mistakes gluten for a foreign protein. It mounts an auto-immune attack in order to destroy it, and in the process it often wipes out a good portion of the intestinal lining (villi) around the gluten molecule. As a result the intestinal lining thins and affected individuals (which means pretty much everybody to a different degree) end up assimilating less nutrients, and in time also develop some form of a leaky gut syndrome with all the consequences it carries with it.
Simply put, regardless of whether you think you are sensitive to wheat (WGA and gluten) you are better off excluding wheat-based foods from your diet. There is plenty online on the topic of wheat and the consequences of consuming it.
A quick list of carbohydrates to stay away from
This is not an exhaustive list but at least it will give you a general idea of what you should avoid. The rest should be just good ol’ common sense.
Refrain from using: table sugar, HFCS, fruit juices, soft drinks, pastries (all ‘foods’ containing flour and sugar), dried fruit in large quantities, fresh fruit in large quantities (apple, pear, water melon, etc), canned sweetened fruit, anything with added sugar (condensed milk, puddings, other processed deserts, etc.), pretty much all grains and beans (because they fight you – lectins), generally anything that’s sugary or starchy and it is man-made.
. . .
I’m sure I’ve forgotten quite a few carb sources that should be in this ‘avoid’ list. I will be adding to the ‘bad’ list as I remember and to the ‘good’ list as I find out other suitable for inclusion in human diet carbohydrate sources. If you can think of any that I’ve omitted that need to be there, please let me know so I can research and add them.
- 3 Barriers That Stop You From Attaining the Dream Body You’ve Always Wanted - November 12, 2016
- 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Do Bodybuilding - November 6, 2016
- Why you can’t do even one pull-up and how to fix it - October 29, 2016
- Video: Why fat people are fat – THE TRUE REASON - October 11, 2016
- Video: How to eat what you want and never gain any fat - October 10, 2016
- Video: Relative Strength – Hip Drive - September 27, 2016
- Video: Relative Strength – The Push - September 26, 2016
- Video: Relative Strength – The Pull - September 25, 2016
- Video: The 3 benchmark exercises for Relative Strength mastery - September 24, 2016
- Video: Man’s Life Mastery Blueprint – Living A Good Life - September 21, 2016