Tip: Fill your meal plan with slow carbs, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They contain the fiber that helps you maintain a steady stream of energy throughout your day.

by the Chef Marshall O'Brien Group


Despite the media hype that warns us to avoid them, carbohydrates are an important part of a balanced diet. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. There are two types of carbohydrates: “Slow” carbs are high in fiber and deliver a steady stream of energy to your body. “Fast” carbs are the low-fiber foods that digest quickly, temporarily raise your blood sugar before it plummets, and leave you feeling drained. Feel vibrant and energized throughout your busy day by eating more slow carbs and limiting your intake of fast carbs.

What is a Carbohydrate?

Like many other people, you may be unsure of what a carbohydrate actually is. More than just bread and pasta, a wide variety of foods makes up the carbohydrate group: fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, dairy and foods with added sugar, such as pastries, candy and sweetened beverages. While all carbohydrates break down into sugars in our bodies, fiber helps to slow the absorption of these sugars. Slow carbs are high in fiber content and, thus, do not raise blood sugar levels as rapidly as fast carbs. This keeps your energy more consistent so you can avoid the mid-morning and afternoon slumps, and minimize weight gain.

How Do I Spot Fast Carbs?

You will find most fast carbs in the processed foods sections of your grocery store.

These low-fiber foods include white bread, pasta, white rice, crackers, cookies and baked goods. Added sugars are also fast carbs and are found in around 80 percent of processed foods. These sugars are abundant in sweet treats and sweetened beverages, but are also found in unexpected places. Foods that are “low-fat” or “fat-free” are often higher in added sugars. Fat imparts a lot of flavor to foods; when it is removed, food companies often add more sugar to help improve taste. If a food is in a box or a bag, chances are it’s a fast carb.

Where to Find the Best Slow Carbs

Slow carbs are whole foods, including fruits, such as berries, apples and pears; vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, winter squash and broccoli; legumes, such as chick peas, lentils and beans; and whole grains, such as whole wheat, oats, barley, quinoa and wild and brown rice. When choosing a food made with grains, make sure it contains “whole” or “cracked” grains as the first ingredient on its nutrition label to ensure it is actually high in fiber and not a fast carb in disguise.

What Fast Carbs Do to You When Stressed

When tired or stressed, we commonly crave fast carbs. But the boost of energy these low-fiber foods provide soon plummets, putting us on an energy rollercoaster that ultimately leaves us feeling exhausted. Instead, choose slow carbs, which contain the fiber your body needs to feel great and keep up with your busy day.

You will love the way you feel!

The Chef Marshall O’Brien Group is a dedicated assembly of professionals based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, committed to the goal of using nutrition to get kids and families to lead happier, healthier lives.