New results from a National Institutes of Health diet-and-weight-loss trial are attempting to turn the tide on carbs, showing that carbohydrates actually help you lose weight, not gain it.
That theory, pushed forward by author Gary Taubes, Harvard Medical School professor David Ludwig, Ph.D., and a myriad of others, contend that a high-carb diet spikes insulin levels, which leads to increased fat absorption by cells. Proponents of the theory say that the way to lose fat is to eat a low-carb/high-fat diet.
The NIH study found that in reality, it’s the other way around: Those who were on a low-fat but relatively high-carb diet achieved more body fat loss than those on an equal-calorie, low-carb and high fat diet. “We can definitely reject the claim that carbohydrate restriction is required for body fat loss,” wrote lead author Kevin Hall.
“After six days, the high-carb group lost an average of 89 grams of fat a day, compared to 53 grams per day for the low-carb group. The low-carb group lost more body weight—4.07 pounds versus 2.86—probably as a result of increased water loss at the beginning of a low-carb diet. But, “Fat loss is a more important goal than weight loss,” Hall wrote. There are several reasons as to why carbohydrates can be the key to fat loss.” -Hall
Most carbohydrate rich foods act as highly effective appetite suppressants. These carbs are even more satisfying than fats or protein to the body. Most of the carbs in our diets can be considered starches. However, not all starches are the same. In fact, some cannot be digested, passing through the body unaltered. This is a Resistant Starch.
Researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that consuming Resistant Starch in one meal caused study participants to consume 10% fewer calories (roughly 150 to 200 calories for the average woman) during the next day, because they felt less hungry.
The right mix of carbs in the diet is the ideal solution to controlling blood sugar and keeping insulin spikes down. In one study at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Center at the USDA, subjects who ate a diet rich in Resistant Starch foods were able to lower their post-meal blood sugar and insulin response by up to 38%.
Carbs high in Resistant Starch kickstart your metabolism. It has been shown that as a Resistant Starch passes through your digestive tract, it releases fatty acids that encourage fat burning, especially in the abdominal area. These fatty acids also help preserve muscle mass, and the more muscle mass you have, the better your body is able to process calories throughout the day.