Carbs have been getting a lot of bad press the last few years. Should you eat carbs? When should you eat carbs? What are good and bad carbs?
We do need carbs especially if we are training or competing but it’s knowing your body and the best source of carbs for you.
One easy place to start is “The cracker test” according to geneticist Sharon Moalem, "the cracker test" can help you to discover how well your body digests carbs and therefore give an indication of your carb tolerance.
He outlined it in his 2016 book The DNA restart:Unlock Your Personal Genetic Code to Eat for Your Genes, Lose Weight, and Reverse Aging. It was also used in the BCC doco the truth about carbs.
For the test you need on dry unsalted water cracker and a stop watch/timer. Put the cracker in your mouth and chew it fast, if you notice a change in the taste of the cracker and it becoming sweeter, then this can indicate that you have more amylase enzymes in your mouth and in your intestine, which means that you find it easier to break down carbs. If you don’t notice a change until 30-60 seconds this could indicate that you don’t have as much amylase enzymes and you should look at your carb intake. If you notice no change in taste within a minute of starting to chew the cracker, this may indicate a very low amount of amylase enzymes so you may want to keep your carb in take low.
Once you have a idea of what level of amylase enzymes you have then you can look at the density of the carbs you choose to eat. For example a potato is more dense than a sweet potato. The easiest way is to use the Internet to compare different sources of carbs and find the ones that will work for you.
Most carbohydrates in your diet are starches. But not all starches you eat are digestible which brings me to resistant starches.
They have been getting a lot of good press lately as resistant starches help us keep good gut bacteria, which helps our body stay healthy.
There are fours types of resistant starch
One type is that found in grains, seeds and legumes another type is found in raw potatoes and green bananas. There is a man made on which is from a chemical process and the one I want to talk about which is when starchy food is cooked and then cooled. This includes Potatoes, Rice, Oats and pasta.
This resistant starches stays in the food even if it is heated up again.
So what are the benefits to resistant starches? When eaten it travels through your digestive system to the large intestine where bacteria turn it into short chain fatty acids, the most important of this is Butyrate which is the preferred fuel for cells in your colon. So the resistant starch feeds the friendly bacteria and indirectly feeds the cells in your colon.
Resistant starch is also effective in lowering blood sugars after meals. It can also have a second meal effect in that eating it at breakfast can help blood sugar spikes at lunch.
Resistant starch can also help in weight management as it has fewer calories than regular starch approximately 50% less per gram.
So how do I get more resistant starch into my diet? You could roast a large amount of potatoes cool them then freeze or refrigerate them use them as go too meals like jacket potatoes or potato salad.
Sweet potatoes could be used in salads. Cold pasta and rice salads are good lunches. Even freezing your wholemeal bread and toasting it gives you resistant starches.
You can also take a supplement in the form of potato starch this can be added into dishes or smoothies. Don’t add in too much supplement as it can cause bloating etc.
So do the Cracker test see what your amylase enzymes levels are like. Also look at the density of the carbs you are taking is and add in resistant starch to your diet through cooking and cooling food and using as lunches etc.