How Carbohydrates & Obesity are Linked: The Kind, Not the Amount

Foods Containing Carbohydrates

It's the kind of carbohydrates you consume, not the number, that becomes a reflection of the number on your bathroom scale. Contrary to popular belief, overweight people don't eat more carbohydrates than those of normal weight. However, it was discovered that overweight people were more inclined to eat an excess of refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, which trigger a rapid spike in blood sugar.

The culprit of weight gain, refined carbohydrates, can be found in processed foods high in sugar. Refined carbohydrates add on extra pounds through their high glycemic index, which means they cause a quick surge in blood sugar. The sugar is then stored in muscle and if it is not used it turns into fat.

On the contrary, other carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables don't have high glycemic indexes.

Even though statistics showed that people are eating less fat, it was revealed that over the course of the past 20 years the rate of obesity has been steadily increasing.

To determine if carbohydrates played a factor in obesity researchers conducted a study by measuring the height and weight of nearly 600 healthy participants. One of the main requirements of the study was for the participants to document the kind of carbohydrates they ate for one year.

The study revealed two key findings:

  • People with a higher body mass index--a measure of weight that factors in height -- tended to eat carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index

  • The amount of carbohydrates people ate had no influence on body mass index

Researchers of the study also noted that some countries are now adding glycemic levels on food labels as a guideline to those who are trying to lose weight or control diabetes.

American Journal of Epidemiology February 15, 2005;161(4):359-367

Dr. Mercola's Comments:


The lead researcher in this study hit the nail on the head with the following statement: "These findings suggest that low-carbohydrate diets, which recommend people cut back on all carbohydrates, are missing the mark." The findings in this study give new credence to one of the fundamental building blocks of the Total Health Program: It is the kind of carbohydrates you eat--not the amount -- that determines your risk of obesity.

With that said, all carbs aren't created equally, and this is just one more reason low-carb diets like the popular Atkins Diet don't work. In fact, most people might be surprised to find out that one-third of Americans actually require a high-carb diet. Generally, the body prefers the carbohydrates found in vegetables rather than grains because their composition slows their conversion to simple sugars like glucose and decreases your insulin level.

So how do you know if you need a low-carb or a high-carb diet? In our practice we use a system called "nutritional typing" to make this distinction. If you are not familiar with metabolic typing, you would benefit by taking the free condensed version of the nutritional type test. The test is a quick way to help you jump-start your implementation of nutritional typing

Refined Carbohydrates--One Grain and Sugar Away From Chronic Diseases

Never before have most of us eaten so many refined carbohydrates. Consuming excess grain and sugar carbohydrates is one of the primary reasons why so many people suffer from:

  • Excess weight
  • Fatigue and frequent sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Brain fogginess
  • Bloating

We all need a certain amount of carbohydrates, however through our addiction to grains, potatoes and sweets most of us are consuming far too many dangerous carbohydrates that can lead to serious chronic health problems like diabetes.

The link between obesity and diabetes is now clearly obvious to even the most skeptical scientist. Your body's storage capacity for carbohydrates is quite limited, so when you consume more than you need they are converted, via insulin, into fat and stored as fat, thus increasing your risk for nearly every chronic degenerative disease.

Any meal or snack high in grain and sugar carbohydrates typically generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To compensate for this your pancreas secretes the hormone insulin into your bloodstream, which lowers your blood sugar. Insulin is essentially a storage hormone that helps you store the excess calories from carbohydrates in the form of fat in case of famine.

Even worse, high insulin levels that develop as a result of eating grains and sugars suppress two other important hormones--glucagon and growth hormone--that are responsible for burning fat and sugar and promoting muscle development. One way you can protect your body from storing fat and rising insulin levels is through eliminating grains and sugars from your diet.

If you have not read Dr. Rosedale's insulin article, I would strongly recommend doing so. Dr. Rosedale is the physician who helped me appreciate the importance of insulin in 1996. I have had hundreds of people share with me how helpful his article was in helping them understand insulin and how it is devastating their health.

Related Articles:

Proof That Increased Sugar Causes Cancer

Food Companies Focus on Dr. Atkins

Atkins Diet Research Proves Grains Cause Weight Gain

High-Grain Diet May Increase Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Most Low-Carbers are Not Eating Low-Carb

New Atkins Book on Diabetes

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