If you are counting carbs to stabilize your blood sugar, lower inflammation, balance hormones, or lose weight, experts say looking at carbohydrate density is a more important strategy. Carbohydrate density measures how many carbohydrates are present per 100 grams of food. Low carb density foods don’t raise your risk of chronic disease.
Research shows eliminating dense carbohydrates from your diet improves health, prevents disease, and can even improve periodontal disease.
While many diets focus on how many calories or how many grams of carbohydrates you should eat per day, the carb density diet instead focuses on how many grams of carbohydrates are in a food once you subtract the fiber.
Ideally, you only want to eat foods under 23 percent carb density. More importantly, avoid carb dense foods.
Foods with low carb density include meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole nuts. Sounds a lot like a paleo type diet right?
High density carbs include flours, sugars, breads, chips, rice cakes, granola bars, French fries, popcorn, and other fast and processed foods.
In a nutshell, if it has been processed, it’s going to be more carb dense.
Carb density in foods
Foods with low carb density contain the carbohydrates within cell walls. In these foods, carb density won’t go much beyond 23 percent.
In foods that are carb dense, however, such as flours, sugars, and processed grains, modern processing breaks apart cell walls so that carbs are much more concentrated, abundant, and hit the bloodstream more quickly.
Why high carb dense foods make us sick and fat
The human body was not designed to eat processed foods in which carbs and sugars have been busted out of their cells, concentrated, and able to quickly raise blood sugar.
Carb dense foods overwhelm the body’s cells with too much glucose. This causes cells to become resistant to the hormones insulin and leptin, both of which play a role in blood sugar regulation.
Insulin and leptin resistance in turn promote obesity, inflammation, accelerated brain degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, and hormonal imbalances — in essence, the foundation to the many chronic diseases of western civilization.
Why regular diets don’t work and the kinds of food you eat matters most
These days, plenty of research has demonstrated why diets don’t work in the long run for so many people. Calorie counting, exercising more but going hungry, extreme diets — these approaches may work in the short term but they pit the individual against primal survival mechanisms and can be metabolically and psychologically damaging.
Although opting for a diet that is made up of healthy meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts may seem severe initially, it quickly adjusts hormonal responses to food. This reduces cravings, boosts energy, and reverses inflammation — the diet makes you feel so good you no longer feel deprived. You may also find processed foods make you feel terrible, so they lose their appeal.
Ask my office for more advice on how you can manage and even reverse chronic health conditions through diet, lifestyle, and functional medicine protocols.
Don’t be so dense, or don’t eat so dense!
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy.