Someone recently sent me a link to an online article titled 8 reasons carbs help you lose weight. There’s no author named, but the source of the article is Health.com. Based on other anonymous articles I’ve read from the same source, I’m guessing Health.com is funded by the producers of grain products and is dedicated to scaring people away from low-carb diets.
If you read this article carefully — heck, even if you read it casually — you’ll soon realize the anonymous author is attempting some journalistic sleight-of-hand, taking the supposed benefits of a type of fiber and applying them to carbohydrates in general. Here’s the opening of the article:
Eating a diet packed with the right kind of carbs is the little-known secret to getting and staying slim for life.
When we talk about the right kind of carbs, we mean Resistant Starch. Hundreds of studies conducted at respected universities and research centers have shown Resistant Starch-such as grains, beans, and legumes-helps you eat less, burn more calories, feel more energized and less stressed, and lower cholesterol.
Hundreds of studies have been conducted on resistant starch? Boy, I’d sure like to see a list of references. The few studies I’ve seen were designed pretty much like the studies that concluded whole grains prevent diabetes: that is, they replaced white flour products with products made from resistant starch, which is a type of fiber. Then when the subjects who consumed resistant starch showed better glucose control, they credited the resistant starch.
They could just as easily credit the better glucose control to giving up white flour. But of course, that’s not the message this article wants to convey. Quite the opposite, in fact:
Sound too good to be true? Here are eight evidence-based reasons you must get carbs back in your life if you are ever to achieve that coveted sleek, slim look.
Got that, people? No way you’ll ever be sleek and slim if you don’t get carbs back into your life. (You can almost picture Paul McCartney singing to a muffin: “Got to you get you into my life…”)
That’s what I mean by sleight-of-hand. Resistant starch was magically transformed into the generic word carbs. And in case you’re tempted to chalk it up to verbal carelessness, here’s the next paragraph:
Eating carbs makes you thin for life. A recent multi-center study found that the slimmest people also ate the most carbs, and the chubbiest ate the least. The researchers concluded that your odds of getting and staying slim are best when carbs make up to 64% of your total daily caloric intake, or 361 grams.
Here we go again … yes, studies have shown that people who restrict carbs are fatter than the population as a whole. People who go to Weight Watchers are also fatter than the population as a whole. People who drink diet sodas are fatter than the population as a whole. That’s because people who go on diets of any kind are (surprise!) fatter than the population as a whole. If the unnamed researchers really believe the key to staying slim is to consume two-thirds of our calories from carbohydrates, I’d like them to explain why we saw a significant rise in obesity during the past three decades, when the only macronutrient we increased in our diets was carbohydrates.
Carbs fill you up. Many carb-filled foods act as powerful appetite suppressants. They’re even more filling than protein or fat. These special carbs fill you up because they are digested more slowly than other types of foods, triggering a sensation of fullness in both your brain and your belly. Research done at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom found that consuming Resistant Starch in one meal caused study participants to consume 10% fewer calories.
Amazing … once again, our anonymous author takes a benefit of fiber and simply applies it to the generic word carbs. Fiber may actually provide extra satiety, by the way. Farther down in the article, we even get an explanation as to why:
Carbs high in Resistant Starch speed up your metabolism and your body’s other natural fat burners. As Resistant Starch moves though your digestive system, it releases fatty acids that encourage fat burning, especially in your belly.
Yup … fiber turns to fat in your digestive system, and fat is satiating. That’s why I eat plenty of fat in my meals.
These fatty acids help preserve muscle mass-and that stokes your metabolism, helping you lose weight faster.
Hmmm … sounds to me like I could derive those same benefits from a few strips of bacon and some eggs fried in butter.
Researchers set out to fatten up two groups of rats, feeding one group food that was low in Resistant Starch. A second group was fed Resistant Starch-packed food. The rats fed the low Resistant Starch chow gained fat while losing muscle mass. Rats that ate the high Resistant Starch meals preserved their muscle mass, keeping their metabolism moving.
Okay, let me get this straight: If you feed rats a diet that replaces their high-carb rat chow with a type of fiber that turns to fat in the digestive tract, they preserve their muscle mass. If you feed rats regular ol’ high-carb rat chow, they get fatter and lose muscle mass. So this proves you must get carbs back in your life if you are ever to achieve that coveted sleek, slim look.
I’m holding my face right now with both hands, fighting myself like a blogger version of Dr. Strangelove, trying to avoid banging my head against my desk.
Carbs control blood sugar and diabetes. The right mix of carbs is the best way to control blood sugar and keep diabetes at bay. In one study at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Center at the USDA, participants who consumed a diet rich in high Resistant Starch foods were able to lower their post-meal blood sugar and insulin response by up to 38%.
Right … because they replaced white flour with resistant starch. Here’s an idea: replace white flour with sausage and avocadoes, then compare glucose levels.
Resistant starch may provide some minor metabolic benefits, just like other fibers. The jury’s out on that one, as far as I’m concerned. But here’s why I think this particular article was produced by someone in the grain industry: As I pointed out before, article gushes about the wonders of resistant starch and then attempts to transfer those wonders to carbs in general. Now take a look at the photo that accompanied the article, which I copied and pasted. A slice of wheat bread with a heart — got to love your carbs, people!
So I looked it up. A slice of wheat bread provides exactly one-quarter of a gram of resistant starch … assuming you don’t cut out a heart shape from your bread, in which case it would be even less.
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