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Guess What…Carbs Trigger Food Cravings

Guess What…Carbs Trigger Food Cravings

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?

Related:
6 Foods that Make You Hungrier
8 Foods that Keep You Full

Read more: Appetizers & Snacks, Basics, Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Following Food, Food, Health, Obesity, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

84 comments

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4:49AM PDT on Jul 14, 2013

Just have to limit my carbs.

7:21AM PDT on Jul 13, 2013

I'm sorry, but I would have thought people knew this already...though people often disregard info that they don't like. Sugary foods, and carbs start to be metabolized into sugar as soon as you put them into your mouths, by the saliva, will spike blood sugar. Blood sugar will later drop quickly, and set up a craving for more sugar.

4:20AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

Thanks for sharing.

3:17AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

True.

8:41AM PDT on Jul 4, 2013

ty

1:20AM PDT on Jul 4, 2013

Knew it!

4:09PM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

Thanks Eric for sharing this important info.

8:33AM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

Thanks!!!

12:08AM PDT on Jul 2, 2013

thanks!

8:47PM PDT on Jul 1, 2013

thank you, trying to cut the carbs...but I love rice

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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