What actually are Refined Carbs and why do we hate them so much?!

Refined carbs and their glycemic index relative to quinoa
Refined carbs and their glycemic index relative to quinoa

Refined Carbs. They’re buzzwords, and overused ones at that. What ACTUALLY is a refined carb? And why are we all so desperate to avoid them?

Well, simply put, they are everyday foodstuffs, such as white bread and white rice or pasta that during the industrial process have been stripped of much of their goodness. For example, the wheat used in white bread has had its fibre-rich outer coating stripped away, and its nutrient packed inner germ has been squashed to oblivion in the milling process. We end up being left with the starchy endosperm. So when we eat white bread or white rice we are basically eating starch. The problem with this is that the starch is digested quickly, which means that it releases sugar into the blood at a high rate, leading to dramatic peaks and troughs in blood sugar levels. These peaks and troughs might appear as sudden, uncontrolled bursts of energy or in slumps of exhaustion.

Carbohydrates that are refined will have a high glycemic index, which is a bad thing for those of us wanting to avoid necessary cravings and weight gain.  The GI formula is simple: the lower the Glycemic Index, the slower the sugars are released, so the longer the time you feel satiated.

Quinoa has a low Glycemic Index,  of around 35. A traditional white baguette has a GI of 96. You do the math.

In terms of processing, the quinoa grain has had its outer bitter husk removed, but is otherwise unprocessed.  Compare this to the manufaturing of white bread and it’s rahter shocking. With quinoa, you’re left with plenty of fibre, and a rich, complex nutritional profile. Rather than going for those white processed carbs have a healthy bowl of quinoa (including the pearl variety) or try wholegrain varieties of pasta and bread. That way you will find it that much easier to walk past the biscuit tin and avoid those naughty mid day snacks!