Let’s try to investigate the following famous “carbs-rich foods” questions...
Do carbohydrate rich foods lead to weight gains?
Are they responsible for health problems?
Is it necessary to reduce carbohydrate consumption to lose weight?
Foods rich in carbohydrates taste good and it’s easy to like. Potatoes in almost every form, rice, pasta, muffins, fresh bread or pancakes constitute temptation. During the last decades those foods blamed for leading to health problems and obesity. Many authors and scientists are trying to convince consumers to consider carbohydrates as a toxic substance or addictive drugs and a real villain for public health. They claim that insulin secretion, resulting to carbohydrates intake, my cause health problems.
In contrast the dietitians worldwide, suggest people to consume many fruits and vegetables, legumes and whole grains, foods all rich in carbohydrates.
During the last 4 decades the carbohydrate consumption slightly increased, from 40% to 49% of total daily energy intake. At the same period there is reduction of fats in our diet from 40% to 35% of total daily energy intake. From this point of view someone can easily conclude that carbohydrates maybe eventually responsible for the epidemic of obesity. If we take a closer look we’ll be able to realize that the main cause of obesity is not the proportion of those nutrients but the substantial increase in energy intake and the sedentary way of life. In western countries the incidence of obesity has risen dramatically because food is readily available everywhere, any time in huge portions and as a result consumers began to eat more.
The energy consumption increased, at the same time activity levels declined, is it likely weight gain occur due to high carbohydrate intake?
Many epidemiological studies showed an inverse relationship between carbohydrate intake and weight gain.
How is it possible a low-carbohydrate diet contribute to weight loss?
In many studies a low-carbohydrate diet may lead to a greater weight loss than conventional high-carbohydrate diet (like Mediterranean Diet) but only for the first 6 months. Those studies also reveal that the weight loss is more sustainable when people followed a high-carbohydrate diet. In addition low-carbohydrate diets may lead to lean body mass losses due to gluconeogenesis, which is taking place as a result of inadequate glucose production from dietary carbohydrates.
Additive sugars and obesity
The increased additive sugars intake contributes to an increased incidence of obesity. The consumption of beverages with sugar, the use of sugar, the addition of fructose syrup in candies, in baked and other products contribute to significant increase of energy intake. The excess energy consumption leads to the development of obesity. The increase of body fat is associated with health problems. Regardless the source, excess energy intake contributes to body fat stores. Moderate amounts of added sugars do not lead to weight gain. Increased activity may compensate the excessive energy intake.
Do sugars cause addictions?
Many people thing that sugars are addictive. The truth is that not possible to develop physical addiction to sugars and foods in general like drugs do. Despite that many people think that are addicted to sugar. A theory says that people are seeking for sugar to improve their mood. High consumption of carbohydrates may increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that elevates our mood.
The use of the term “addiction” in foods reveals the difficulty to resist and not a medical addiction.
Another nutritional issue in our days is the use of carbonated beverages and other sugary beverages, a very common source of sugar especially for adolescences. The daily consumption of 2 sugar-sweetened soft drinks provides 400 kcal. Research shows that adolescence and young adults, who consume in regular basis sugary soft drinks tent to weight more, compare to those who do not. In addition, overweight and obese children and adolescence consume more deserts and sugary soft drinks than their normal weight peers.
The liquid form, the variety of flavors and the availability of soft drinks makes it very easy to overconsume without even considering the amount of calories intake. The reduction in consumption of sugary beverages and foods containing additive sugars may contribute effectively in weight loss. For instance, replacing a can of sugary soft drink with a sugar free soft drink or simply a glass of water, may lead to a half a kilo weight loss in one month.
“Sugar sweetened beverages not only are energy dense foods, but also fail in appetite suppression!”
Sugar consumption leads easily to glucose production which stimulates insulin secretion for pancreas. Insulin sets off hormonal action that eventually suppresses appetite. If we consume the same amount of calories using solid foods without the presence of additive sugars, will reduce more effectively the appetite and this reduction will last longer.
Insulin as a cause of obesity
In many scientific book and articles insulin appears as an obesity cause. According to this theory, a carbohydrate-rich nutrition promotes insulin secretion, thus the specific type of diet leads to obesity. The truth is that insulin is an anabolic hormone and one of its actions is the accumulation and storage of fatty acids in adipose tissue and cholesterol synthesis. On the other hand, we should not forget insulin’s significant role in diabetes prevention and good health maintenance.
Conclusively, it’s irresponsible to blame insulin as a cause of obesity. Several factors are interfering in weight gain procedure. The development of insulin resistance, forces pancreas to secrete high amounts of insulin and the resulting hyperinsulinaemia predispose for health problems. Hyperinsulinaemia occurs after obesity is established.
Diet’s GI (glycemic index) and fat storage
Diet’s glycemic index (GI) affects insulin secretion. Because high glucose levels stimulate insulin secretion, many researchers believe that high GI diet may contribute to fat storage. Although in most studies is clear that either food GI or either carbohydrates intake doesn’t seem to affect weight loss.
For example fructose promotes fat accumulation in adipose tissue despite the fact that it has a substantial low affect in insulin secretion (low GI). Many studies correlate high fructose intake with pre diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
It’s not right to reduce carbohydrates intake in order to lose weight. Only the avoidance of additive sugars may be beneficial for our health and helpful in body weight control.
Low carbohydrate intake will downgrade the quality of our nutrition. Without enough fruits and vegetables, grains and legumes, the lack of fibers, vitamins and antioxidants will impair our body health by increasing the risk for several chronic and degenerative diseases.
A daily carbohydrate contribution between 45 to 60% of total energy intake is recommended. Intakes within this range can support healthy body weight, an overall good health, without leading to obesity, when total energy intake is appropriate. Even a modest consumption of additive sugars maybe safe, if it’s not contributes in excessive energy intake.