08/19/2015 08:22 EDT | Updated 08/19/2016 05:59 EDT

5 Slow Carb Swaps for Energy, Weight Loss and Health

Young woman with arms outstretched
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Young woman with arms outstretched

In the 90s it was low fat, in the 2000's it was low carb. So what diet defines the current decade? Slow carb!

Carbs have gotten a bad rap, but they don't deserve to have so many haters. How did they fall out of favour?

A Coles Notes version of what happened:

During the low fat diet craze, people were replacing fat with low fat products that were packed with the wrong kinds of carbs. Not having enough fat and eating the wrong carbs just made people hungrier, making weight loss even more of a challenge. As a result, people then turned to cutting carbs to lose the weight. This works as a short-term weight loss strategy, but headaches and low energy levels make it tough to stick to for long.

Fast forward to the present day. Finally, people seem to be coming around to an approach that is supported by decades of scientific research.

Repeat after me: Not all carbs are created equal.

Your Body on Whoa Carbs

There are fast-releasing carbs (what I call "Whoa Carbs" because they put your body on a roller coaster) and slow-releasing carbs ("Slow Carbs").

What happens when you have fast-releasing "Whoa Carbs" like white rice, pop, or candy? You're subjecting your body to the Spike-Crash-Crave cycle. First, your blood sugar skyrockets (The Spike) and your body releases a surge of insulin to move the sugar out of your blood and into your cells for energy. But this spike in blood sugar causes you to release too much insulin, making your blood sugar levels drop along with your energy levels, leading you to "The Crash". This low blood sugar and low energy also leads you to crave more fast-releasing carbs, making it difficult to control your appetite and lose weight (the dreaded "Crave").

Your Body on Slow Carbs

Slow carbs have a very different effect on the body. Your blood sugar will go up slowly, won't go up as high, and will peter off gradually, looking more like a gentle wave than a tsunami. This means you avoid the Spike-Crash-Crave cycle. Research suggests that the most effective long-term weight loss diet features moderate amounts of protein along with slow carbs.

So how do you know your slow carbs from your fast-releasing "Whoa Carbs"?

Test your knowledge with these five "Whoa Carb" versus "Slow Carb" foods. Which food will you choose and which will you swap out for increased energy levels, fewer cravings and better overall health? (Hint: go for the better-for-you slow carb choice). Try to answer without peeking at the next slide for the answers.

5 Slow Carb Food Swaps for Weight Loss and Health

Slow Carb Symbols

In some countries, there are labels or symbols on foods that have been tested and proven to be low on the glycemic index (aka a slow carb). In Canada, products that are tested at Glycemic Index Labs in Toronto can carry the GI Labs service mark.


The Canadian Diabetes Association recently announced they are going to be launching a slow carb (low glycemic index) symbol for foods and will be receiving guidance from Health Canada. This will be a big help when you go to the grocery store and are looking for slow carb options.

Choosing slow carbs is a powerful tool for your weight loss tool box!

Swapping out your "Whoa Carbs" and replacing them with slow carbs is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

If you are watching your weight, keep in mind that calories still matter. Make slow carbs ¼ of your plate, lean protein ¼, and the other half vegetables and fruit. Include a couple of tablespoons of healthy fats, and you'll be well on your way to a slim waistline and improved health!

Do you have questions about how to live a slow carb lifestyle? Visit my Facebook Page and ask away!


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