Dieters crave calories, not carbs

July 25, 2007 in Healthy Eating, Weight Management

Dieters crave calories, not carbs

People wanting to lose weight are battling calorie addiction, not carbohydrate addiction, suggests new research findings from Tufts University.

As part of the Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-term Effects of Restricting Intake of Energy (CALERIE) trial, researchers randomly assigned 32 overweight women between the ages of 20 and 42 to two diets that differed in glycemic load, and asked them to record type of foods they craved, as well as the frequency and strength of cravings.

Low glycemic load diets emphasize whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits and non-starchy vegetables and limit rapidly digested carbohydrates that sharply raise blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels. 

High glycemic load foods foods (white bread, white rice, refined breakfast cereals, potatoes, fruit juices, sweets) cause blood glucose and insulin levels to rise higher than do those with a low glycemic load.  In response to excess insulin secretion, blood glucose levels drop lower over the next few hours which can trigger hunger and overeating.

After the one year study period, researchers found that 94 percent of participants reported food cravings after six months of dieting. However, those who lost the greatest percentage of body weight did not give into their cravings as often as those who had lost less weight.

Researchers found that dieting increased the frequency of cravings, and people tended to crave foods that were calorie-dense, as opposed to carbohydrate-dense.

While craved foods do contain carbohydrates, fat and protein, the most common characteristic is that they are all high calorie, the researchers found. Roberts suggests that dieters should substitute high-calorie foods for foods that taste similar but have fewer calories.

With over 300 million obese adults worldwide, these findings have important implications for the food industry that develops products based on food preferences and cravings.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.