CARBS, CARBS, CARBS (Part II)

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Since last week’s newsletter had a lot of positive response, I decided to dive a bit deeper into the matter of carbohydrates and translate some of the notorious industry terms that are used to confuse the consumers.Let’s start with my all time favorite:1. “Contains no sugar”: Usually, products that “contain no sugar” is sweetened with honey, agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup, or some other form of sweetener. The catch? Sugar, honey and all the others are just different forms of fructose and glucose mixtures. For example, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a liquid fructose-glucose mix, which has been used as a sweetener in foods and soft drinks since the 1970’s. High fructose corn syrup is more stable and cheaper than cane sugar, although it is not much different in terms of composition from sucrose (table sugar) or honey. Basically, it’s a 45/55% mix of fructose and glucose, two simple sugars. Very similar to table sugar or honey (which, in all fairness, contains enzymes and vitamins that other sugars do not).
Here is a basic comparison of all 3 sweeteners:High Fructose Corn Syrup: 42% Fructose, 53% Glucose
Sucrose: 50% Fructose, 50% Glucose
Honey: 49% Fructose, 43% GlucoseNo earth shattering difference, for sure. The reason that HFCS has a bad rap is because it’s cheap and we consume too much of it compared to other forms of sweeteners.

2. “Sweetened with maltitol or sugar alcohols instead of sugars”: They do not affect the blood sugar, which is why they are not counted as carbohydrates. They still have 2 calories a gram, which is lower than the 4 calories sugar packs but it is definitely not a zero.

3. “No sugar added”: This may sound like a good option, but it only means one thing. The product has already so much sugar from dried fruit juice or natural sugar that it does not need any more. Most likely not a low calorie food!

4. “Low dextrose equivalent”: Low dextrose equivalent is a term used for diabetics as it tells them if they need to inject insulin after eating a certain food. But, it does not make the food a low carb food per se.

5. “Net carbs”: Net carbs is a clever little semantic gem the food industry cooked up. A loophole in the FDA code allows companies to label maltitol as non-sugars since they do not affect the blood sugar levels; therefore, they miraculously lose their caloric value. Again, if you are not a diabetic, this has no bearing for you.
Remember: the only carbohydrates that truly do not count are fiber carbs since they cannot be digested (that’s why the quest bars are awesome)!

So make sure to read the labels carefully and stick to eating real food as often as possible!

Until next time,
Maik Wiedenbach

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