If you look at much of the literature about dieting, you might be led to believe that a calorie is a calorie, no matter where it comes from. This sort of logic has brought people to diet consuming nothing more than diet soda and low-calorie snacks. As it turns out, a calorie is not always a calorie.
Case in point: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently published research that essentially says, sugary sweet foods and drinks, white bread and other processed carbohydrates that are well-known to cause abrupt spikes and falls in blood sugar appear to stimulate parts of the brain involved in hunger, craving and reward. These high-glycemic foods often tweak the brain in such a way that moves people to overeat, a lot. Dr. David Ludwig, the lead author of the study and the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital states the following (as reported by The New York Times):
“This research suggests that based on their effects on brain metabolism, all calories are not alike,” he said. “Not everybody who eats processed carbohydrates develops uncontrollable food cravings. But for the person who has been struggling with weight in our modern food environment and unable to control their cravings, limiting refined carbohydrate may be a logical first step.”
Besides significantly raising blood sugar levels, these carb-heavy foods that are sugary and highly caloric trigger responses in distinct areas of the brain involved in reward, and fuel cravings that cannot be ignored. Previous research suggests that when blood sugar levels plummet, people have a tendency to seek out foods that can restore it quickly, and this may set up a cycle of overeating driven by high-glycemic foods. So, before you find yourself at the bottom of a bag of chips or at the slurping end of a 64-ounce soda, it is best to stop the cycle before it begins by directing yourself towards fairly low-glycemic foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Have you noticed that such high-glycemic foods, like bagels, chips, and milkshakes, just make you hungrier?