I hear all the time “I can’t have carbs, they are evil”! I hear this from just about everyone regardless of whether they are a bariatric surgery patient or not. Well, are carbohydrates evil? The truth is no. Carohydrates are actually essential to our lives. Carbohydrates along with protein and fat are fuel sources for our bodies. Carbohyrdates are actually the preferred fuel. It is very costly for the body to use protein and fat for energy. Fifty percent of our total food intake should come from carbohydrates. The energy that flows through our blood is glucose, the most basic sugar. Yes, sugar!
Any excess of calories from either protein, carbs, or fat can lead to weight gain. Often carbohydrate foods are eaten in excess. Grain products in particular are easy to over eat, especially bread, rice, and pasta. Post surgery these foods often are difficult to eat anyway. Eventually many patients can tolerate these food is small quantities, but the fear is that if these carbs are consumed weight gain will occur. Often what happens is low blood sugars.
Hypoglycemia can occur particularly in gastric bypass patients after the one year mark. This condition is generally a result of not consuming enough carbohydrates throughout the day. The solution is to combine protein and carbohydrates at each meal. This is very important for patients who have become regular exercisers. The body needs to refuel after physical activity. Protein is needed to repair muscles and carbohydrates are needed to refuel. Patients still need to make sure they meet their protein requirement, but should not forget about carbohydrates.
Differences in Carbohydrates:
Simple Carbohydrates also knows as “simple sugars”
Found in milk/dairy products, some fruits and vegetabes, and processed flour and sugar products: candy, soda, snack cakes, pies, cookies and sugary drinks
Types: Glucose, Fructose, Galactose, Maltose, Sucrose, Lactose
Complex Carbohydrates – Starches and Fiber
Found in whole grains, whole fruit, whole vegetables, beans and lentils
Minimum amount needed per day:
Approximately 130 gms (this is for brain function: the brain can not use protein or fat as an energy source)
Break this into 15-30 gm of carbohydrates per meal
Examples of healthy carbohydrates: ½ cup Rolled Oats = 13 mg CHO, ½ cup Sweet Potato = 20 gm CHO, 5 Saltine Crackers = 12 gm CHO, 1 small Apple = 15 gm CHO, 1 cup Low Fat Milk = 12 gm CHO