What’s Your Carbohydrate IQ? (Quiz)

Although it’s like trying to remember what the world was like back when everyone had to dial the telephone, there really was a time when the average Joe didn’t know exactly what a carbohydrate was.

Now, everyone’s an expert. Are you? Test your knowledge!

(Quiz courtesy of dLife ó Itís Your Diabetes Life. Reprinted with permission.)

Note: The information provided in this quiz is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. Please read dLife’s disclaimer.

 

Question #1: All types of carbohydrate have the same effect on your blood sugar.
a) True
b) False

The answer is false.

Certain types of carbohydrate, such as fiber and glycerin, have little to no effect on blood sugar. Sugar and starches, on the other hand, can cause blood glucose to skyrocket. Different carbohydrate-laden foods elicit different glycemic index responses, and these responses vary from person to person, too.

For example, as a general rule, potatoes cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, while legumes such as soybeans or lentils cause a more gradual rise, because they are digested more slowly. Also, if you talk to a group of people who test their blood sugar, you will find that some individuals experience spikes after foods that cause only a moderate rise in others.

SOURCE: The Glycemic Index. Home. http://www.glycemicindex.com (accessed 5/09).

 

 

Question #2: Breads that are tan or brown are better for you than breads that are white.
a) True
b) False

The answer is false.

This is often true, but not all the time. It used to be that the color of bread could tell you something, but since whole grain mania took over the marketplace, color is no longer a reliable indicator.

The craze started back in 1999, when the government began allowing companies to make heart health claims on the labels of products that are 51 percent or more whole grain. Since then, smart marketers have gone to great lengths to get the term “Whole-grain” on every product label they can, not to mention tinkering with the color of the dough.

The only way to be sure that a loaf of bread is a healthy choice is to read the ingredients list. If whole-grain flour is the first ingredient (whole wheat flour, whole oat flour, etc.), and you don’t see any added sugars or hydrogenated oil in the rest of the list, toss it in your cart!

SOURCE: U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Health Claim Notification for Whole Grain Foods. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/%7edms/flgrains.html (accessed 5/11/09).

 

 

Question #3: Pasta raises your blood sugar faster when it is slightly undercooked.
a) True
b) False

The answer is false.

The smart gourmand will drain pasta before it’s completely cooked — pulling the pot off the stove just when it reaches the chewy texture known in Italian as al dente or “to the tooth,” meaning it needs to be chewed. This is the way fine pasta chefs serve their delicacies, but it also happens to moderate the starch’s effect on blood sugar. As with many other foods, the longer pasta cooks, the more water-logged its molecules become, which makes it easier for the body to break them down quickly and deposit a fast-acting dose of glucose into the bloodstream.

SOURCE: Brand-Miller, Jennie, Kaye Foster-Powell and Joanna McMillan-Price. The Low GI Diet Revolution: The Definitive Science-Based Weight-Loss Plan. Marlowe and Company, 2005.

 

 

Question #4: Low-fat foods are often higher in carbs than their full-fat counterparts.
a) True
b) False

The answer is true.

It’s so unfair! But yes, reduced-fat dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream often contain more grams of carbohydrate than the regular, full-fat fare. The same is true of many reduced-fat cakes, cookies, and the like. (Remember Snackwell cookies? People snarfed them up, because they were fat-free. The problem was that the fat had been replaced with carbs, and the calories were the same as any other cookie.)

A cup of fat-free, plain yogurt contains 19 grams carbs; its whole-milk counterpart has 11 grams. A cup of reduced-fat muenster cheese contains 4 grams of carbs; the full-fat version has 1 gram. The take-home message here is balance, and with high-fat foods, consider sometimes moderating your intake rather than seeking out a low-fat version.

SOURCE: Brand-Miller, Jennie, Kaye Foster-Powell and Joanna McMillan-Price. The Low GI Diet Revolution: The Definitive Science-Based Weight-Loss Plan. Marlowe and Company, 2005.

 

 

Question #5: Carbohydrate and protein contain the same number of calories per gram.
a) True
b) False

The answer is true.

Protein and carbohydrate each contain 4 calories per gram, while fat delivers 9 calories per gram. This is why foods that are high in fat are generally higher in calories.

SOURCE: The Cleveland Clinic. Fat and Calories. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/obesity/hic_fat_and_calories.aspx (accessed 05/09)

 

 

Question #6: Protein, fat, and carbohydrate are all essential nutrients — that is, they are required for normal human functioning and cannot be synthesized by the body.
a) True
b) False

 

The answer is false.

Protein and fat are essential nutrients; carbohydrate is not. The categories of essential nutrients for humans (meaning, the nutrients required for normal functioning that the body cannot synthesize on its own) are: vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids (fats), and essential amino acids (proteins). However, it would be impossible to get a nutritionally balanced diet without consuming carbohydrates in the form of plant foods.

You’ve probably heard of essential amino acids (protein) and essential fatty acids (fat), but never essential carbohydrates.

 

 

Question #7: Alcohol is not a carbohydrate.
a) True
b) False

The answer is true.

Alcohol is a unique substance. The body processes alcohol before it metabolizes fat, protein, or carbs. A 5-ounce glass of wine typically contains 110 calories, 5 grams of carbs, and about 13 grams of alcohol (which accounts for 91 of the calories). These numbers are roughly the same as you will find in a 12-ounce light beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. Most people experience a dip in their blood sugar after consuming alcohol; the glycemic index of beer, wine, and hard liquor is zero.

 

 

Question #8: Non-alcoholic beer contains less carbohydrate than regular beer.
a) True
b) False

The answer is false.

In fact, non-alcoholic beers are generally higher in carbs than regular beer — some are almost double in carb content. O’Douls Amber contains 18 grams of carbohydrates, while a regular beer has about 13 grams. Light beer and low-carb beer weigh in almost equally, with about 3 grams of carbs in 12 ounces.

 

 

Question #9: There is no sugar in rum.
a) True
b) False

The answer is true.

All hard liquors are distilled, which by definition means they contain no carbohydrate. (Beer and wine are fermented rather than distilled, and fermentation results in some residual sugar.) Though liquor is derived from high-carbohydrate substances such as sugar, molasses, potatoes, and grains, once distilled, what’s left is ethyl alcohol, a zero-carb liquid.

 

 

Question #10: Including fiber, fat, or anything acidic in a meal can moderate carbohydrates’ effect on blood glucose.
a) True
b) False

The answer is true.

Fat and fiber are broken down and digested more slowly than other nutrients, and as a result slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the blood. Acidic things, such as vinegar, have a confirmed but less well understood moderating effect on glycemic response. What a great reason to include a salad with vinaigrette at meals!

SOURCE: Johnston CS, Kim CM, Buller AJ. 2004. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 27:281-282.

 

 

Question #11: If a product says “sugar-free” on the label, it is also low in carbohydrates.
a) True
b) False

The answer is false.

Sugar-free and low-carb are not one and the same, unfortunately. A product can have no added sugar but plenty of carbs. Case in point: One half-cup serving of Breyer’s No-Sugar-Added Chocolate Caramel ice cream contains 18 grams of carbs.

 

 

Question #12: “Zero net carbs” on the label means zero impact on blood sugar.
a) True
b) False

The answer is false.

When low-carb eating became de rigeur and companies were scrambling to put out products with fewer carbs than the next guy’s, a slew of tasty candies and other sweet treats flooded the market. The label lingo includes net carbs and effective carbs.

The ingredients that made these products possible are called sugar alcohols. (They have nothing to do with the kind of alcohol that’s in liquor; the name refers to their molecular composition.) These substances sweeten food but are slowly and incompletely absorbed into the body.

Because of this, many diet experts say to count only half the grams of sugar alcohols in the total carb count of a product. However, the important message for people with diabetes is this: Sugar alcohols affect everyone differently, and different types can have different effects in the same person. So go easy on these treats, and test your response carefully.

 

Quiz questions and answers courtesy of dLife ó Itís Your Diabetes Life. dLife is the leading multi-media source for the burgeoning diabetes population. With over one million unique monthly visitors to dLife.com, over one million registered members, and nearly half a million viewers tuning in weekly to dLifeTV (CNBC 7PM ET, 4PM PT), dLife is widely recognized for its innovative and pragmatic approach to informing, inspiring and engaging people living with diabetes in better 24/7 self-care.

 

More Quizzes:
Whatís Your Sugar IQ? (Quiz)
Whatís Your Salt IQ? (Quiz)
Whatís Your Coffee IQ? (Quiz)

By dLife ó Itís Your Diabetes Life

83 comments

Stella Gamboni
Stella Gamboni3 years ago

Would anyone who has gone through all these pages be willing to condense the questions to a single post?

heather g.
heather g.3 years ago

I try to avoid about 90% of unhealthy carbs but its difficult to do so in North America where you don't demand food that isn't super-refined and natural.
I'm not able to wade thru 13 pages either ..........

Joshua N.
Joshua Nussbaum3 years ago

nice question

Tammy Andrews
Tammy Andrews3 years ago

Thanks.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

Thanks.

Pat L.
Patricia L.3 years ago

I thought I knew all the answers, but I missed 3, so there go my bragging rights to knowing everything there is to know about carbohydrates. But as a vegan and runner I still regard carbs as my friend.

Melissa Franklin
Melissa Franklin3 years ago

thanks for all the info =]]

Amber Martingale
Angela Roquemore3 years ago

I did pretty good.

Lynda Paradis
Lynda Paradis3 years ago

Carbs are my downfall,. I could happily exist on bread and potatoes I I would gladly take a piece of bread over a cookie or two. I limit my intake and fill up on proteins and fibre.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Thanks.