A Calorie Is Not a Calorie: How Carbs Trigger Overeating

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A Calorie Is Not a Calorie: How Carbs Trigger Overeating
“Calories in and calories out – that’s all that matters to lose weight.”

You have surely heard this before and likely followed it religiously.
It sounds so simple, so elegant … but it is so wrong. It is
increasingly clear that “a calorie is a calorie” is misleading — the
evidence points primarily to the carbohydrate content of dietary intake
rather than total caloric intake as the primary factor in body mass
changes. Art De Vany covers this in-depth in his book The New Evolution Diet as well as in a series of posts on the topic summed up in his conclusion:

"Calories measure heat, metabolism produces
heat and biomolecules. The human biome contains hundreds of thousands of
biomolecules, perhaps more. It is just now being mapped thoroughly.
Energy in and out balance only measures the heat, leaving the
biomolecules out of the picture. The biomolecules compose the millions
of signalling molecules, such as insulin and glucagon, gene effectors,
DNA, mitochondria, and all the trillions of cells that a human is made
of. ATP is part of the electron flux, which is the most fundamental
aspect of physiology. It is how our bodies use electrons that runs the
show. … [T]here are many forms of carbohydrates and not all of them are
the same even if they have the same energy content. It is the energy AND
the biomolecules produced that play out in the complex landscape of
human metabolism
."

Turning to carbohydrates, a more helpful message than “eat less,” may be “eat less refined carbohydrates and more whole foods,” according to a recent article in the New York Times blog
that synthesizes the latest research on the topic. Processed, refined
carbs affect the brain in ways that other foods do not, even if their
calorie count is the same:

Make the right choices

"Sugary foods and drinks, white bread and
other processed carbohydrates that are known to cause abrupt spikes and
falls in blood sugar appear to stimulate parts of the brain involved in
hunger, craving and reward, the new research shows. The findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that these so-called high-glycemic foods influence the brain in a way that might drive some people to overeat.
"

The difficult aspect when it comes to making recommendations (or
refuting the argument you have no doubt heard from a friend about their
uncle who ate bagels and pasta all his life and never gained a pound …)?
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
.

The latest study tested subjects with high-glycemic shakes vs. a control group. What
they found was that four hours after drinking the high-glycemic shake,
blood sugar levels had plummeted into the hypoglycemic range; the
subjects reported more hunger; and brain scans showed greater activation
in parts of the brain that regulate cravings, reward and addictive
behaviors
. Although the subject pool was small, every subject showed
the same response, and the differences in blood flow to these regions
of the brain between the two conditions “was quite substantial,”
according to the study’s directors.

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.

Is “a calorie a calorie”‘ dead as a nutritional guiding principle?
Probably not for a long time. But the science is starting to unravel it
as a legitimate basis for nutrition and wellness.

from Tabata Times

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