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Carbohydrates Dilemma

Carbohydrate Dilemma  – Oatmeal and Wholemeal breads are complex carbohydrates, Are they really?

Who doesn’t love carbs they say. Our favourite foods are mostly carbs in form of simple sugars such as cakes, soft drinks, breads, chocolates and a gazillion other products. For people who don’t train or lift weights, carbohydrates restricted diet is the only thing they believe they need, to shed a few pounds. On the other hand, people who lift and train, there’s a whole new science behind carbohydrates.

Most of us gym rats, prefer a high or moderate carbohydrate diet while bulking and low carb diet when trying to cut. Carbohydrates can be listed in two categories i.e.

Simple Carbohydrates – White Potato, White Rice, Banana etc.

Complex Carbohydrates – Brown Rice, Quinoa, Whole meal bread, Oatmeal, Sweet Potato etc.

Every intermediate lifter knows that fast/simple carbohydrates work best if taken early morning (after a night long fast) or immediately after a hard workout, as your body needs fuel to replenish the energy levels. As fast/simple carbs increase insulin levels rapidly, they quickly get used to replenish the energy levels and the chances of getting those carbs stored as fat in our bodies are minimal. Complex Carbohydrates on the other hand are best for other meals throughout the day as they do not raise the blood sugar levels rapidly and provide one with a slow release of energy which doesn’t overwhelms our system and keeps us full for a longer period of time.

Even though most of us are familiar with these basic principles, but a few are familiar with the “Product Label Science”. In simple words, one can go grocery shopping and buy wholemeal breads, oatmeal and still end up not getting the full benefits from them. Reason being the GI (Glycaemic Index). Glycaemic Index represents carbohydrates on a scale of 1-100 on the basis of their breaking down speed. Lower GI (0-55) represents slow release carbohydrates and higher glycaemic index (70-100) represents fast digesting carbohydrates.

Now we all assume that Oatmeal and Wholemeal Breads are on a lower side of glycaemic index as they are traditionally labelled as healthy and complex carbohydrates. But are they really?

Let’s talk about Oatmeal, there’s instant and raw oatmeal available on the market shelves with labels like easy to cook or instant cook. If we compare instant oats to the raw oats, the instant ones are more processed which increases their glycaemic index to 79-80 which is almost equal to the glycaemic index of Pretzels or Cookies (Cheat Meals). This states that even after consuming the typical complex carbohydrate, the results were not as expected. Instant Oatmeal can be used as fast carbs early in the morning or post workout. But if you’re using instant oatmeal for your other meals you might not be gaining that lean muscle you wished for after all.

Bread is an another example; Whole wheat bread has an average glycaemic index of 69 whereas white bread has about 75. Whole wheat bread being labelled as the much healthier option might not be that healthy after all. When buying breads, stick to 100% Whole grain, Rye, Sourdough breads which may be a little more expensive but has a GI of less than 51.


We all love our carbohydrates, and provide ourselves with the luxury of cheat meals such as pizzas, ice creams etc. thinking that we had a good controlled diet (Bulk/Cut) throughout the week. Just a small slip with labels can slow us down in achieving our goals. Another quick example is coconut water, which is becoming popular these days. But a thousand different brands available on the shelves sell that with lots of sugar instead of just pure coconut water.

We all work really hard for our desired physiques, let’s make sure that we are fuelling them the right way.

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