The slow carb diet is currently very trendy. Slow carbs stand for complex or slow carbohydrates. These are supposed to ensure a largely constant blood sugar level. It is hoped that this will lead to long-lasting satiety, protection against cravings and improved fat loss. But what is really true about these claims? In this blog post we will take a closer look at the topic of slow carbs.
Slow carbs are very much in vogue at the moment. The so-called slow carb diet is about choosing carbohydrates that can be digested slowly. These are complex carbohydrates that differ from simple sugars in their chemical structure. They have a much longer molecular structure.
In technical language, we speak of so-called complex polymers, which include oligo- or polysaccharides. “Fast carbohydrates”, on the other hand, include simple types of sugar such as mono- and disaccharides.
Monosaccharides (simple sugars) include well-known representatives such as glucose, fructose and galactose. If two molecules of the monosaccharides join together, they form double sugars, also called disaccharides. Known representatives of this carbohydrate group are lactose, sucrose and maltose.
The chemical structure of oligo- and polysaccharides is much more complex. They consist of three to nine single sugar molecules or more than nine monosaccharides.
At first glance, this sounds somewhat theoretical and of little practical significance, but this is not the case. The chemical structure has a decisive influence on the utilisation and thus the effect in the body.
This is how complex carbohydrates affect your body
Complex carbohydrates are known to be healthier than their fast-available counterparts. But why is this so? What is actually behind this claim?
Carbohydrates are known to have a decisive influence on blood glucose concentrations. The body’s response to carbohydrates from food is described in science as the glycaemic index. It has been shown that complex carbohydrates cause the blood glucose level to rise less rapidly than simple sugars, for example.
It should be emphasised, however, that the chemical structure is only one of several influencing factors. This is because, in addition to the molecular structure, the amount of carbohydrates consumed, the type and physical formof the sugar source and the composition of the meal also have a significant influence on the utilisation and effect in the human body.
For example, it makes a decisive difference whether the type of sugar is glucose, fructose or galactose. On the other hand, the physical form of the carbohydrate source is also important – this is primarily dependent on the processing. For example, it makes a difference whether you eat your oat flakes raw in muesli at breakfast or in swollen form in porridge.
However, the most decisive influence is probably the actual meal consumedwith all its components. In addition to the amount of carbohydrates consumed, it is important how high the fat and protein content is, how much fibre is present in the meal and what other foods are included in the meal. For example, pulses provide a less pronounced increase in blood glucose levels due to so-called amylase inhibitors.
These are the most important sources of complex carbohydrates
The best sources for healthy blood glucose levels are therefore complex in structure, rich in healthy fibre, healthy fatty acids and proteins. It is also a good idea to include healthy pulses in your daily diet.
This is because fibre as well as fats and proteins ensure a longer retention time in the stomach and thus delayed absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This not only ensures a smoother blood sugarresponse, but also longer-lasting satiety and an optimised energy supply.
The most important sources of complex carbohydrates are listed below.
Wholemeal pasta and wholemeal flour
Beans, lentils and peas
Quinoa, bulgur and buckwheat
Oat flakes and oat bran
Nuts and seeds
As a little inspiration for preparing meals full of complex carbohydrates, we have picked out some delicious and healthy recipes for the two:
First grind the oat flakes in a small blender so that the oat flakes become an oat flour.
Then mix the oat flakes with the flour and baking powder.
Then add the vanilla sugar and fold in the pinch of salt.
Next, melt the coconut oil and add the chia seeds with the oil to the ingredients.
Finally, pour the vegan milk into the remaining ingredients.
Then mix all the ingredients carefully with a spoon until a dough is formed. If there are still lumps in the dough, don’t worry, they will disappear during frying.
Heat a frying pan and add a little oil for frying. Our secret tip is to use a small pan that you can also use for eggs, then all the pancakes will be the same size.
Add small portions of the batter to the pan a little at a time and fry the pancakes until yellow-brown.
Lastly, stack all the pancakes and add toppings such as fruit, nuts or chia seeds.
In these two recipes, oat flakes and the wholemeal ground oats in Verival Sport Porridge provide plenty of complex carbohydrates and digestive fibre. Chia seeds, which are also rich in protein, provide an extra portion of dietary fibre. The recipes are rounded off with healthy fat sources such as nuts and seeds.
What simple carbohydrates do in the body
Simple carbohydrates, such as monosaccharides and disaccharides, can be quickly utilised and transported into the bloodstream due to their shorter chemical structure. From there, they reach those organs that depend on the carbohydrates. The disadvantage of quickly available carbohydrate sources, however, is that they cause the blood sugar level to rise quickly.
The insulin response is correspondingly strong, which can lead to long-term health problems. These include diabetes mellitus type 2 as well as obesity and its potential secondary diseases.
With regard to overweight and obesity, however, the type of carbohydrate is only part of the problem. Rather, it is a calorie surplus – that is, you are feeding your body more calories than it actually needs. To determine your individual energy needs, you can use a calorie calculator. Calorie calculators use the data you enter to calculate the amount of calories your body actually needs.
If you want to avoid diet-related diseases, you should therefore try to include fast carbohydrates in your diet in a targeted and well-dosed way. In addition to their function as sweeteners in recipes, they have the property of being easily digestible and quickly available, which makes them popular training companions, especially in sports circles.
Carbohydrates during sport – what do I have to bear in mind?
Basically, the same applies for athletes as for non-athletes. The majority of carbohydrates should be consumed via slow carbs. This ensures an optimal energy supply throughout the day, which increases performance and prevents unnecessary cravings.
Just before, during and after training, however, this looks somewhat different. During exercise, it is important that the food does not remain in the stomach for too long. If this is the case, performance suffers greatly.
This is due to the fact that digestion takes up part of the blood, which means that less is available for the working muscles. As a result, the transport of important molecules in the blood to the skeletal muscles is suboptimal, which demonstrably reduces performance.
How to get the most out of your sport
In order to be able to perform well and be full of energy during sports, you should therefore make sure that your diet is as ideal as possible during training. The rule is: low amounts of fats and fibres, but plenty ofquickly available carbohydrates and proteins.
A meal shortly before training is not necessary in most cases. Only if your last meal was many hours ago and you need some short-term energy, it can be helpful to have a small pre-workout meal.
This should be easy to digest and provide quick energy and protein. It is better to save fats and fibre for meals outside of training, as they prolong the time the food spends in the stomach.
During training, it can be beneficial to consume a targeted amount of fast-available carbohydrates, especially if the training session lasts longer than an hour. This is best done in the form of a sports drink, which you can either buy or prepare yourself. Ideally, the sports drink should be isotonic. This ensures better absorption of nutrients and less strain on the digestive tract.
For example, a mixture of 750 ml of water, 250 ml of fruit juice and a pinch of salt is suitable, which you should drink in sips. The sports drink is full of important nutrients for athletes, which helps to prevent muscle cramps and conserve carbohydrate stores.
After training, the rules of thumb are still the same. You can only increase the amount of protein now to initiate and support regeneration in the best possible way. However, you should avoid fat and fibre as much as possible shortly after training because your muscles need a large amount of blood.
For all meals outside of the training session, however, the following applies: plenty of complex carbohydrates, healthy fibres, a healthy portion of protein, plenty of micronutrients and healthy fatty acids. Because all these components ultimately contribute to optimised recovery and a healthy lifestyle.
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