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TOPIC: carbohydrate question (not for opinions)

 
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May 17, 2012 7:32 PM
I'm trying to understand the carbohydrate equation.

I understand that carbohydrates are made up of starch, fiber & sugar.

I also understand that starches & sugars both produce glucose.

So on the carbohydrate portion of the diary, let's say the numbers are

164 23 69
Carbs Fiber Sugar

of the 164 carbs, 23 are fiber and 69 are sugar. That equals 92. Can I safely assume that the remaining 72g are starch?

I've been keeping track of my fiber to sugar ratio and aiming for well-under 5s:1f; ideally, this would be 1:1 but even an apple will throw that off. I've been watching it the last few days and i've been averaging about 3s:1f, but I'm not counting the 72g of "starch" in the ratio because the sugar ratio also counts any added sugars I may have.

My questions are these:

Does anyone else follow this same kind of idea to keep the ratio of fiber to sugar as even as possible?
Can anyone tell me if I have the breakdown of the carbohydrate correctly?
Does anyone have any further knowledge on the subject?

I know the subject of carbohydrates is a passionate one. That is the only reason I'm putting the disclaimer about opinion on the post. I am not looking for advice to better my diet; I'm looking for advice on understanding what these numbers mean and how I can use them to my advantage.

Looking forward to the discussion!
Edited by kayemme On May 17, 2012 7:46 PM
May 17, 2012 7:56 PM
I'm not sure you're going to be able to get a nice neat equation to break down the carbohydrates listed on the label. But that's just my opinion (sorry).
I don't follow this even ratio idea. I try to minimize my sugar as much as possible and have no regard to my fiber intake (I eat lots of stuff like leafy greens for fiber and the whole fruit, no juice). Most of my sugar will come from fruit (or cheats) and I try to keep both to a dull roar.
Edited by oats4breakfast On May 17, 2012 7:59 PM
May 17, 2012 8:02 PM
no, not on labels, on the diary... i don't typically use labels because i make everything from scratch, so the diary is my only real guide.
May 17, 2012 8:20 PM
huh ? I'm lost. You don't use the labels ? Doesn't the original food items that you are making from scratch with ...... have labels ? Whether it comes from a box, bag, can, garden, cow, somewhere, it will have a label that you enter the original carbohydrate into your diary - whether it's stuck to the side of the food item or found through looking at nutritional sites.
I pretty much eat everything fresh and nothing comes from a box or can, but it all has a label that contains the macro nutrient breakdown of that food. Even a tomato has one - I just have to look it up instead of "reading the label".
At any rate, I'm sorry, I can't help as I don't track my fiber on my diary. I do track sugar and target low (and carb sources are low glycemic and low starch). I don't really concern myself with the sugar/fiber/starch breakdown of the carbs. It's more about the source and type on the whole for me.
I know this isn't probably the type on conversation you were after - I was probably answering this question of yours "Does anyone else follow this same kind of idea to keep the ratio of fiber to sugar as even as possible? "
Cheers

Edit: Also, looking at your diary may lead to inherent inaccuracies anyway. Unless every single food item is added in correctly and the "label" is accurate, then the breakdown you are looking at may be off. It constantly drives me crazy finding food items in MFP that don't list fat or sugar in the nutrition info. I often wonder what people are doing - just pure cals. I guess that's why crap like special K has a huge market share .... "coz its helthy"
Edited by oats4breakfast On May 17, 2012 8:24 PM
May 17, 2012 8:22 PM
i'm sorry, i misunderstood. i thought you meant labels from boxed or canned. any conversation is all right so long as it's not the "eat more meat" conversation. :) i'm just trying to grasp what exactly is a carbohydrate and how the diary represents it.
May 17, 2012 8:33 PM
I eat a lot of meat and fats and the diet I follow is typically considered low carb (paleo). But you won't get that "eat more meat" from me. It's all about your choices. I have strong opinions about certain foods .... like canned and boxed stuff - especially when it's a staple ... but if people want to eat it, I loose no sleep for them and they're usually happier because I didn't hassle them about it.
I'm also of the opinion that even though I'm on a meat/fat diet, I eat a ton of carbs - but it's all from good sources. Iin my eyes, Paleo isn't a low carb diet per se - perhaps relatively it is though; especially when compared to the usda/fda recommended diet plan (sell more corn anyone ?).
So long as I keep my sugar down and choose lower glycemic options, I'm usually feeling pretty good and my weight stays in control. I trust that my body is being fueled appropriately and getting what it needs - without micro-managing all the bits and bobs that go into it. Although tracking the cals is certainly the easiest way to dial-in the diet into either a weight-gain or weight-loss scenario.
I guess if I were deficient in something, or concerned about balancing certain elements, I'd certainly track it and would probably start trying to come up with a formula/ratio of everything too(math/engineer nerd).
Edited by oats4breakfast On May 17, 2012 8:35 PM
May 17, 2012 8:39 PM
Carbs are either simple or complex. 1 gram of carbohydrate equal 4 calories. Carbs are usually the main energy source for the brain and body. So what is your question?


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  9285851
May 17, 2012 8:49 PM
I'm not sure how well this will answer your questions but here is what I know. MFP tracks all sugars, not just added. The RDA is no more than 28 grams of added sugars a day. Twinkies and cranberry juice are added, carrots or apples aren't. If it's a concern subtracting natural from added can help. I don't understand what a sugar and fiber balance is for but the fiber and carb balance I get. To calculate net carbs subtract fiber from the carb total. Trying to keep the ratio of carbs to fiber as close to even as possible would definitely be a great thing to shoot for. Since fiber doesn't cancel out sugar I'm just confused as to why that matters. Is this just a personal preference? If there is something here I need to learn I'd love to know! I'm pre-diabetic so tracking these things is extremely important to me. Great job on being so proactive about your health!
May 17, 2012 8:53 PM
QUOTE:

I'm also of the opinion that even though I'm on a meat/fat diet, I eat a ton of carbs - but it's all from good sources. Iin my eyes, Paleo isn't a low carb diet per se - perhaps relatively it is though; especially when compared to the usda/fda recommended diet plan (sell more corn anyone ?).


I started looking into it because I'm kind of a nerd that way, too. I found out the average American diet is somewhere around 12:1 sugar to fiber. I eat seasonally and locally and not much meat, so fiber is my main concern: to make sure I get enough of it to stay full, but also enough of it to balance out the sugars that naturally occur in food. I started thinking about this not so much as a question to my diet, but like really trying to understand a carbohydrate because they're necessary and also 2/3 of the equation is basically sugar, as a starch is treated as sugar in the body...

so I started dividing the number of sugars I have by the number of fibers I have and then rounding to the nearest whole number. For example, today I had 69g sugar and 23g fiber. I didn't eat any sweets except for some granola that I made myself (where I can control the added sugar).

so 69 to 23 is 3:1, which is right where I like to be (which is maybe even where some Paleo folk are).

I totally get the complex carbohydrate vs. simple carbohydrate, the energy production and the spikes. I'm just curious if that full carbohydrate number on the diary includes all of the components of a carbohydrate: fiber, sugar & starch, or if I subtract the fiber & sugar from the carbohydrate number (in my case, today: 164) would I be left with the starch.

It's more a matter of curiosity than anything else.

QUOTE:

I guess if I were deficient in something, or concerned about balancing certain elements, I'd certainly track it and would probably start trying to come up with a formula/ratio of everything too(math/engineer nerd).


and I'm fine tracking it the way I'm tracking it because it's a good indicator. If my sugar : fiber is over 5:1, then I need to maybe re-evaluate what I'm eating (and that number is kind of arbitrary as a way to offer myself some sweets on occasion). But I'm most interested in true balance, starting with fiber. As a very low-meat eater, Protein is next :)
May 17, 2012 8:59 PM
QUOTE:

The RDA is no more than 28 grams of added sugars a day. Twinkies and cranberry juice are added, carrots or apples aren't.


You mean the 28g of RDA Recommendation is table sugar? That's both generous and refreshing!
May 17, 2012 9:27 PM
RE: The ratio's. I see, interesting.
I went back through the past 2 weeks of my diary and did these calcs. I'm typically in the 1:1, 3:2, 4:3 or 2:1 ranges eating about 30-40+ of sugar (on occasion <20), and 20-30 fiber. The days I don't have fruit is usually a 1:1 day. (I don't have fruit everyday - often I have none). But it blow outs to 3:1 or 4:1 if I have a twix or snickers or something (like once a week ... maybe twice). I'll eat 50+ sugar to 20-30 fiber on those days.
I don't know if my fiber is low, things seem to work well :) I think I'd die on 12:1

Note: Typical cals per day 2170 . My exercise is baked into my daily quota so I eat that every day. I target 1.5 loss so that on heavy work days, when needed, I can eat an extra 200+ cals (sometimes 600) and not destroy my long term diet. It seems to work well, so long as I don't abuse it. For example today, I had a big 450 cal overeat (protein, banana, PB, almond milk shake) because I have a tournament this weekend starting tomorrow and was feeling a little tired. Feel much better now (sugar/fiber was 55/25 (twix too) today and I'm done).
Edited by oats4breakfast On May 17, 2012 9:33 PM
May 18, 2012 1:35 AM
QUOTE:
of the 164 carbs, 23 are fiber and 69 are sugar. That equals 92. Can I safely assume that the remaining 72g are starch?


No. In the USA your food analysis goes something like Carbohydrates = Dry weight - fats - protein - ash

So (carbohydrates - fiber - sugar) is starch and everything else that was caught by the above.
Sugar alcohols for example are part of "carbohydrates" but also declared separately.

*Most* of it might be starch, but you can't assume it all is.
  18022302
May 18, 2012 2:57 AM
QUOTE:

QUOTE:
of the 164 carbs, 23 are fiber and 69 are sugar. That equals 92. Can I safely assume that the remaining 72g are starch?


No. In the USA your food analysis goes something like Carbohydrates = Dry weight - fats - protein - ash

So (carbohydrates - fiber - sugar) is starch and everything else that was caught by the above.
Sugar alcohols for example are part of "carbohydrates" but also declared separately.

*Most* of it might be starch, but you can't assume it all is.


thank you so much.
Edited by kayemme On May 18, 2012 2:58 AM
May 18, 2012 3:35 AM
QUOTE:

RE: The ratio's. I see, interesting.
I went back through the past 2 weeks of my diary and did these calcs. I'm typically in the 1:1, 3:2, 4:3 or 2:1 ranges eating about 30-40+ of sugar (on occasion <20), and 20-30 fiber.


isn't it kind of fascinating?

I'm really interested in that RDA that gives roughly 7tsp of added sugar a day. I'm on my way out of town so I have to put my side of the conversation away for a couple days, but I just think the whole thing is very interesting. All science-y and stuff.

And totally agreed about the MFP calculations. I do my best, but don't hold them as gospel. I actually stopped logging for a while because it was such a hassle to find straight-up ingredients, especially since my diet is primarily constructed with stuff from my garden / CSA / produce department. It can be very trying to find a simple ingredient.

I also have several friends with diabetes (both 1 & 2) and I never really understand how it totally works. Most of the people I know with diabetes take some kind of medication to control it. I've heard (but I'm not a doctor nor a nutritionist) that a fiber-rich diet can stave (and I've even heard, reverse) the disease, even if one needs to take medication at first.

So that's part of what got me thinking about this, too.

Being a bit (but not wholly) a number nerd, I just find this kind of thing fascinating. if it ends up being useful: awesome!

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