Do Carbs Turn Into Sugar When You Digest Them?

Do Carbs Turn Into Sugar When You Digest Them?

There's a lot of misunderstanding about carbohydrates (carbs) and the role they play in controlling the amount of sugar you have in your blood. All the carbs in your food are turned into glucose, which raises your blood glucose level. Use the following information to help you manage your carb intake without giving up all your favorite foods.

What are carbs?

The sugar, starch and fiber in the food you eat are referred to as carbohydrates. Carbs can be categorized as either simple or complex:

  • Simple carbs are found naturally in some food, and sometimes sugar is combined with foods to add flavor, which adds carbs. Foods such as candy, fruit, milk, table sugar, vegetables and sugar-sweetened products contain simple carbs.
  • Complex carbs are a natural part of many foods, such as bread, pasta, rice, cereal and starchy vegetables like potatoes.

Since carbs are turned into sugar in your system, it’s important to monitor your daily intake to control your blood glucose levels.

Misunderstood facts about carbs

Carbs are an important part of a healthy diet. Sometimes, people go too far to remove carbs from their diet. The objective isn’t to eliminate carbs completely, but to control the amount you eat. Talk to your doctor to identify a carbohydrate level that works best for you. In general, a good level to shoot for is 45-60 grams each meal.

People with diabetes can eat sweets and chocolate. There’s no reason why you can’t eat sweets. You don’t need to completely eliminate any type of food to control your glucose level, just make sure you eat a balanced diet.

You need to monitor your intake of fruit. It’s true that fruit is good for you because it contains fiber, vitamins and minerals, but the carbs in fruit increase your blood glucose level. Be sure to account for fruit consumption when you’re planning a controlled-carb diet.

Alcohol doesn’t contain many carbs. While liquors like whiskey and rum don’t often contain carbs, what you mix them with does. If you don’t use sweet mixers, all you need to do is account for the caloric value of a drink. Beer, on the other hand, contains enough carbs that you need to monitor your intake.

Choose carbs wisely

It doesn’t make sense to consume high-carb foods that don’t satisfy your appetite. You’ll just want to eat more and end up letting your carb intake get out of hand. For example, if you drink three cans of soda, sweet tea or sports drinks each day, you’re loading up on carbs to satisfy your thirst. Look for foods that provide a combination of protein and fiber in addition to carbs. You’ll be satisfied longer and won’t be tempted to eat as much.

You can also make food substitutions to cut down on carbs. Try sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, switch your processed cereal to whole grain oatmeal, and find out how good a recipe can be with brown rice or barley instead of white rice. Substitute whole wheat flour for white flour in your favorite bread or pancake recipe.

Managing your blood glucose levels doesn’t mean you need to give up on all your favorite foods. When you know which foods contain carbs, you can make informed choices to eat a balanced diet that includes a reasonable level of carbohydrates without feeling you're denying yourself all the good stuff.

Sources:

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000321.htm

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/make-your-carbs-count.html