Processed carbs are proving to be more of a problem in our diets than we used to believe. Nobody has ever truly believed that they were choosing fast food for the nutrition value, after all. However, as it turns out, highly processed carbohydrates actually have more of an impact on our weight than previously believed. In fact, new research is now suggesting that they are having as much of an impact as overeating and caloric intake on the challenges we face in losing weight, and on the prevalence of obesity and overweight rates worldwide.
The most broadly accepted weight management strategy is currently the energy balance model (EBM). It states that consuming more calories than the number burned will lead to weight gain, while consuming fewer than what are burned leads to weight loss. However, while this continues to be true, as it turns out, things are notably more complex than that basic model. Processed carbs are playing a role in how weight is gained and lost, and it steps above and beyond the number of calories consumed.
This is not to say that caloric intake isn’t important. It is still a basic guideline that helps to better understand the way food intake affects weight. However, not all calories have the same impact on the body. Processed carbs – in the form of fast food, junk food and many ready-made meals – alter the body’s energy expenditure.
Because of the way the body uses highly processed carbs, a diet that regularly includes them is more likely to make it easy to gain weight and harder to lose it than one that is higher in whole foods. How do you make sure you can do this without having to eliminate all your favorite foods? Researchers are starting to turn away from the EBM and toward the carbohydrate-insulin model (CIM).
The CIM suggests that food quality plays a critical role in your ability to manage your weight. Therefore, while calories remain a helpful base guideline, the specific foods that comprise those calories will have more of an impact on whether your weight goes up, down or stays the same.
Following this type of model would mean that you would reduce the number of processed carbs – particularly starchy ones – in favor of lean protein, healthy fats and higher quality carbohydrates such as those found in whole grains.
By reducing consumption of processed carbs, it helps to reduce the instance of rapid glucose level increases that result in avoidable body fat storage. That form of fat storage triggers the body to feel hungry more frequently, leading to the risk of more food consumption than would otherwise be necessary.
Before making any major changes to your diet or lifestyle, speak with your doctor.