Low Carb Basics

I was in a used book store the other day and picked up a few cookbooks

I love to cook.  I love cookbooks.  And right now with trying to get my weight under control, I am on the hunt for cookbooks that will offer me suggestions to make my meal less boring.  I realize that this journey is not just about loosing weight, but making a total lifestyle change.  But I digress….

As many of you know, I’ve been told by my doc that my blood work shows that I am in the pre-diabetic category.  I sort of know what that means, but not really.  To me, the word “pre” is just that.  Pre…  meaning, I’m not there yet.  Could get there, or not.

Anyways…  as I sat down with these books to find something new to make, I came across a “jackpot” of information about Carbohydrates, Sugar Levels, Insulin, and Pre-Diabetes.

This is all found starting on Page 4 in the “Better homes and Gardens; Biggest Book of Low-Carb Recipes” copyright 2004; Meredith Publishing Company; ISBN: 0-696-22253-1.

What’s A Carbohydrate?  Carbohydrates are one of three basic macronutrients (along with protein and fat) required for life.  They’re found in many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, baked goods, dairy products, and beverages.

Refined carbohydrates, sometimes called simple sugars, go through extensive processing which often removes valuable nutrients, leaving mostly calories.  Unrefined or complex, carbohydrates go through minimal processing, leaving fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals intact.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested and, therefore, provides no calories.  Because of this, many food manufacturers list net carbohydrates on food labels.  Net carbohydrates, as used in this book, are calculated by subtracting the grams of fiber in a food from its total grams of carbohydrates.

The Rise and Fall of Sugar Levels  – When you eat foods containing any carbohydrates (except fiber), your body converts them into glucose, a simple sugar.  Glucose raises blood sugar levels and stimulates the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin.  Insulin allows your body to absorb glucose and use it for energy or store it.  If your body has all the glucose it needs, any extra glucose will be stored as fat.

Foods high in refined carbohydrates, such as sweet rolls candy bars, and white bread, cause blood glucose levels to rise rapidly.  This spike signals your body to release large amounts of insulin.  In some people, repeated large blood sugar/insulin spikes may cause insulin resistance.  The American Diabetes Association calls this pre-diabetes, a condition where normal amounts of insulin are not able to remove the glucose from your blood. This many also contribute to heart disease by causing high blood pressure, increasing triglyceride levels, and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol.

Consuming minimally processed foods or foods that contain a mix of protein or fat with carbohydrates allows blood sugar and insulin levels to increase gradually.  So, less total glucose is absorbed and less insulin is released, avoiding peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels.”

I am so grateful that I came across this book.  I don’t think until now that I really understood how the human body processes food – when it comes to glucose and insulin.  This really has helped to open my eyes about the dangers of refined carbs.  Now, I know that this book was written almost 10 years ago, and certainly there has been much research done in regards to refined carbs.

In doing some research about complex vs. refined carbs, I came across this statement.  “Generally, anything that comes in a box or bag — think chips, crackers and pretzels — has been refined (processed)”

Here is a list of processed or refined carbohydrates:


  • tacos
  • corn chips
  • wraps
  • pizza
  • croissants
  • pasta (of all kinds, brown or white)
  • rolls
  • muffins
  • flour (of all kinds, brown or white)
  • crumpets
  • pastries
  • bagels
  • bread (of all kinds, brown or white)
  • buns
  • pretzels
  • doughnuts
  • cookies
  • biscuits
  • cakes
  • polished rice
  • wheat
  • all products containing wheat
  • corn
  • corn/flour starch
  • all products containing corn
  • candy
  • toffee
  • sweets
  • potato chips
  • batter
  • breadcrumbs
  • pastry
  • pastries
  • desserts
  • jams
  • jelly
  • jello
  • dumplings
  • pies
  • batter
  • all sugars
  • all products containing sugar
  • granola bars
  • breakfast bars
  • cereals
  • soft drinks
  • sodas
  • foods containing corn syrup
  • sugary drinks
  • cordials
  • store bought cooked meats/cold cuts if they have added sugars and additives)
  • sausages/hot dog frankfurters if they contain carbohydrate fillers, additives, or sugar

This is a very long list.  Somewhat unwieldy.  But I guess I can look at it this way.  I didn’t get to where I am physically in one day or in one year for that matter.  So, I know that it is going to take me some time to get control over all of the changes that I should make.  This is not a diet, this is a change of life… a new life style.


Think of it as the tortoise and the hare.  I could so easily be the tortoise.  Drop all the weight, make the doc happy.  But how long would those changes last?  Not long I would suspect.  However, if I take it one step at a time…  well I think I can make these changes for a lifetime.

Something my late husband used to say…  “Remember, a mouse can eat an elephant one bite at a time!”


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