Good carbs, bad carbs? Study supports high glycemic foods (in moderation) do not lead to weight gain any more than complex carbs

“This study is the first to definitively demonstrate that fast carbs do not make you fat,” ​said study co-author Glenn Gaesser, PhD, professor of exercise science in the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University.

“Contrary to popular belief, those who consume a diet of high-GI foods are no more likely to be obese or gain weight than those who consume a diet of low-GI foods. Furthermore, they are no less likely to lose weight.”

The Grain Foods Foundation provided funding support for the study published in Advances in Nutrition​. 

Good carbs, bad carbs?

“High-glycemic index (high-GI) foods (so-called fast carbs) have been hypothesized to promote fat storage and increase risk of obesity,”​ wrote researchers in the study.

“Central to the hypothesized link between high-GI diets and excess body weight is the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity. This model proposes that high-GI foods are particularly fattening because they elevate postprandial insulin secretion, which has direct effects on accelerating storage of fat. However, the validity of the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity has been questioned,” ​noted researchers.

To investigate the connection between high-GI foods and excess weight gain, researchers analyzed data on 43 cohorts from 34 publications (comprising nearly two million adults in total) to assess if dietary glycemic index impacts body weight.

Researchers observed that from 27 cohort studies that reported results of statistical comparisons, 70% showed that BMI was either not different between the highest and lowest dietary GI groups (12 of 27 cohorts) or that BMI was lower in the highest dietary GI group (seven of 27 cohorts).

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