1 May 2006

Feedback—Your FAQs Answered

I have been low carbing (not excluding carbs all together, just switching to healthier ones) for over 3 years and have dropped my weight, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, etc. I appreciate that you don’t advocate a low carb diet – but where do you draw the line? How much carb is high, medium and low?

We believe that the type or source of the carbohydrate and fat are more important than the amount. In the end the choice of how much carbohydrate is up to the individual. A moderate carb diet would be around 40–50% of energy intake as carbs; and high over 50% of energy intake as carbs. Here’s what Prof Jennie Brand-Miller and her co-authors say in The Low GI Diet.

In 2002, the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the USA advised that a range of carbohydrate intakes could adequately meet the body’s needs while minimising the risk of disease. Specifically, they advised the following ranges:

45–65% OF ENERGY

25–35% OF ENERGY

15–35% OF ENERGY

We like these figures because they allow for individual tailoring. The American Heart Association even ruled that as little as 40% of energy intake as carbs could be eaten and still be good for the heart. Chances are your diet already falls within these flexible ranges and, if so we encourage you to stick with what you have. If your preference is for more protein and more fat than you are currently eating, then go ahead—just be choosy about quality. We believe that you are the best judge of what you can live with for the rest of your life and, anyway, there is plenty of room for flexibility. We recommend you consume at least 130 grams of carbohydrate a day, even during active weight loss. Whatever the number, the type of carbohydrate is important. And that’s where the GI comes to the fore.’
The Low GI Diet is published by Marlowe & Company in the US; Hachette Livre in Australia and New Zealand and Hodder Mobius in the UK.

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Anonymous said...

Since a lot of whole grains are high GI, how can you determine the GI value of a food when when reading the nutritional labels? When you're out shopping, a formula you could use to determine the GI value would be very helpful.

Anonymous said...

I expect you will tell Karen K that it doesn't work like that. Ie. there is no formula but that you will lobby to have GI values included on nutritional food labels. I think GI Values should be included on nutritional food labels, now that i know about them and understand them a bit.

Can i also suggest that in themselves, neither talking percentages or grams of carbohyrdrate are practical methods of determining how much carb to include in a daily diet for the average interested person. The only way i know how to interpret such things without getting round with a calculator and lots of sums is by a rough menu of foods

eg. 130g of carbs is equivalent to:

40g all bran + 2 slices of wholegrian bread + 2/1/5 cups of vegetables (excluding...)

or Xgrams of chickpeas, + 2 1/2 cups of vegetables + 1 medium potatoes

or whatever.

Anonymous said...

In Australia, NZ and the UK, some food manufacturers and supermarkets are now GI labelling tested foods. And it has started in the US. There isn't a simple formula, but a rule of thumb when shopping for wholegrain cereal products such as bread for example is to look for products containing visible grainy bits, multigrain, 100% wholewheat stoneground, whole wheat, sourdough, sourdough rye, pumpernickel, soy and linseed and fruit breads. The ingredient list on the packet will list grains such as barley, rye, triticale, oats or oatbran and kibbled wheat; or seeds such as sunflower or linseed; and legumes such as soybeans. The chapter in Low GI Eating Made Easy on Breads and Cereals will give you some good basic ground rules for shopping for whole grains. It should be available in your local library or all good bookshops.