List of Slow Burning Carbs
Slow-burning carbs supply you with a sustained and steady delivery of energy. Avoid fast-burning carbs -- white potatoes, white bread and bagels, most breakfast cereals, sweets, white rice and sugary drinks -- which wreak havoc on your blood sugar, leading to energy crashes and ravenous hunger. Instead, choose slow-burning carbohydrates. Not only are they a better energy source; they also provide essential nutrients and fiber, and reduce your risks of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Whole grains and foods that contain whole grains are digested slowly, which keeps your blood sugar lower and steadier. By contrast, highly refined carbohydrates are not whole; they've been stripped of fiber and other components that slow digestion, and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Replace breakfast cereals with slow-cooking or steel-cut oatmeal. In place of white rice, eat pearled barley, millet, brown rice or bulgur. Choose whole-grain bread, bagels, crackers and pasta that list a whole grain as the first ingredient.
Beans are a good source of slowly absorbed carbohydrates. Beans, like other slow-burning carbs, have a low glycemic index, a measure of how much a particular food causes your blood sugar to go up. Carbs with a glycemic index of less than 55 are best, according to an article titled "The End of the Diet Debates? All Fats and Carbs are Not Created Equal" in the October 2005 issue of "Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine." Lentils, black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black eye peas and navy beans all have a glycemic index well below 55.
Vegetables and Fruits
Most fruits and vegetables are good sources of slow-burning carbs. Avoid white potatoes and parsnips, which are absorbed into the bloodstream almost as rapidly as pure glucose. Replace white potatoes with yams. Eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of juices. Juices aren't slow-burning carbs; they lack fiber, and are absorbed into the bloodstream quickly. Fiber not only slows the absorption of carbs, it also reduces cholesterol and promotes bowel regularity.
List of Fast Burning Carbs:
Carbohydrates are essential to good nutrition and are considered a primary source for energy. The key to eating healthy is knowing the difference between "good" and "bad" carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed, broken down and burned off faster by your body than complex carbohydrates, making them an ineffective source for long-term energy. Try to limit the simple-carbohydrate foods you eat.
Foods that contain simple carbohydrates, or carbohydrates that burn off quickly, include milk products, which contain important vitamins and minerals. Milk, for instance, contains calcium, which is essential for growth and bone development. Opting for skim or low-fat milk cuts down on the amount of calories and fat, which can help keep you from gaining weight. Other milk products that contain the simple carbohydrate lactose include cheeses and yogurts.
Many fruits contain the carbohydrate fructose in their chemical structure, which makes them simple carbohydrates. Like dairy products, fruits provide nutritional value that goes beyond refined sugar carbohydrates. If you are a diabetic with hyperglycemia, you should be cautious of eating too many fruits that are rich fructose, as they can lead to a spike in your blood glucose levels. Strawberries, raspberries, plums, pears, grapefruit, banana, cherries and apples all contain fast-burning carbohydrates.
Plain table sugar is considered a simple carbohydrate because it contains sucrose. This type of sugar is absorbed immediately upon consumption and provides a near instant energy boost. Sucrose is common in sports drinks, cereals and jellies. These types of carbohydrate foods should be consumed selectively. Another type of sugar typically found in foods such as syrup, molasses and sweeteners is dextrose. This refined sugar provides no nutritional value and can cause weight gain if consumed often and in excess amounts.
Sweets are arguably the worst type of simple carbohydrate food. Candy bars, cakes, chocolate, cookies and hard candy all contain processed sugars that offer no nutritional value and can promote weight gain if consumed on a regular basis. Other processed foods that contain high amounts of sugar include white bread, biscuits and other white flour products, as well as soda and fruit drinks.