High-Glycemic Carbs Don’t Cause Weight Gain, Says New Research

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While not all carbohydrates are created equal, consumers have been advised (particularly those who are trying to lose weight or change their eating habits) to avoid eating “fast carbs” and to prioritize adding “slow carbs” to their diet. When we talk about “fast” and “slow,” we are referring to the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed by our bodies (for more on that, check out this explainer on complex carbs). However, according to a recent study, the differences between high-glycemic (fast carb) and low-glycemic (slow carb) foods are extremely small in terms of quantity.

The findings of the study, which was published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, concluded that eating foods with a high glycemic index (high GI) is no more likely than eating foods with a low glycemic index (low GI), and that eating high-glycemic index (high GI) foods is no less likely to cause diet-induced weight loss.

The Grain Foods Foundation provided financial support for the study, which sought to test the hypothesis that eating high-glycemic foods causes fat storage and has an impact on body weight and that eating low-glycemic foods has the opposite effect. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a particular food raises blood sugar levels, and it assigns a value to each food based on how quickly it raises glucose levels.

High-glycemic carbs don't cause weight gain, says new research - Photo by Stephanie Gravalese
High-glycemic carbs don’t cause weight gain, says new research – Photo by Stephanie Gravalese

A total of 43 cohort studies from 34 publications (representing nearly 2 million adults) were analyzed by the scientists in order to compare the effectiveness of low-GI and high-GI diets for weight loss. Researchers discovered that “GI, as a measure of carbohydrate quality, appears to be relatively unimportant as a predictor of BMI or diet-induced weight loss,” according to the study.

“This study is the first to demonstrate conclusively that fast carbohydrates do not cause weight gain,” says Glenn Gaesser, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University and a study co-author. “Contrary to popular belief, those who consume a diet high in glycemic index foods are no more likely than those who consume a diet high in glycemic index foods to be obese or gain weight. Besides that, they have no less likelihood of losing weight. “

So, what kinds of carbohydrates should you consume? In the words of study co-author Julie Miller Jones, Ph.D., “the most important takeaway is that carbohydrates, regardless of type, can be a part of a healthy diet and have a place on a healthy plate.” However, rather than focusing solely on high-or low-glycemic foods, researchers recommend concentrating on the variety of carbohydrates eaten as part of a well-balanced diet. To be clear, eating these six carbs can assist you in losing weight.)

Jones expresses himself thus: “Over the past few decades, carbohydrates, processed foods, and foods made with refined grains have all been vilified on an almost universal basis. Science has demonstrated that these foods, when consumed in the proper proportions, can be part of a dietary pattern that promotes a healthy weight and lowers the risk of developing the disease. Dietary carbohydrates, including whole-grain staple foods, can provide the nutritional benefits of healthy carbohydrates, particularly whole-grain staple foods such as whole-grain bread and bran flakes, when consumed in a variety of ways and in combination with smart choices from all food groups. “