Tips for “protected” carbs, sprouted grains, and eating on the run

Q. “Do you support Dreamfield’s pasta for diabetics and their claim of ‘protected carbs’? Also, I have found a bread at Trader Joe’s that is made from ‘sprouted grains’ and has 7gms of carbs (4gms if you subtract fiber). Is this an acceptable product? I don’t get to cook often because I travel a lot for my job, so I have to eat on the run.

Thank you for answering my questions. I love your diet!”  –H.W. from SC

Dr. Fred:

What do I think of Dreamfields? That’s an easy one!

First of all, there is no such thing as a “protected carbohydrate.” When the low-carb craze was in full swing, I remember being at meetings when scientists first explained how they supposedly “snipped off” the carbohydrate chain. I thought it was rubbish back then. And I still do.

Save “real deal” pasta for special occasions. If you’re following a low-carb lifestyle the best way to enjoy “pasta” regularly is by using a truly low-carb substitute. Like zucchini or squid. (You can find recipes for these pasta substitutes in my book The Hamptons Diet Cookbook). You’ll be surprised how much they taste like regular pasta with a heaping ladle of Bolognese sauce and a hearty sprinkle of Parmesean cheese.

And here is my “30 second primer” on sprouted grains: Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental ways…

  1. sprouting activates food enzymes
  2. sprouting increases vitamin content, and
  3. sprouting neutralizes “anti-nutrients” (like phytic acid) which bind up minerals and prevent your body from fully absorbing them.

When examining the nutrient density of sprouted wheat to unsprouted wheat on a calorie-per-calorie basis, you’ll find that sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat. It also contains more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain. And it’s lower on the glycemic index making it more suitable for those suffering from blood sugar issues.

So it is a healthier option than regular bread–or even whole grains. And it is much safer for diabetics than regular grains of any kind.

Bottom line? If you are going to eat grains, choose the sprouted variety. One caveat, though–if you’re actively trying to lose weight, it’s best to stay away even from sprouted grains until you’ve reached your goal. While they’re not bad for you, they can slow your progress.

As for eating on the run– if anyone can relate, it’s me. I’m constantly on the go. And yet, I always manage to eat healthy food. Always! I never let life get in the way of eating healthy. Planning ahead and “defensive eating” are the two main tricks of the trade. I would bet that there’s not a place you go that you don’t have some idea what to expect from a food perspective. So you should be able to plan ahead to some extent–and choose the healthiest places you can. And if that is not an option, bring some healthy snacks with you. Hard boiled eggs and nuts are a couple of my favorites.