According to University of Virginia professor Glenn Gaesser, many – if not most – of today’s nutritionists and weight loss experts profess that eating so-called “bad carbs” will make a person fat. In a Sept. 28 press release, Dr. Gaesser says that’s “just nonsense” and that “eating sandwiches with white bread, or an occasional doughnut, isn’t going to kill you, or necessarily even lead to obesity.”
Gaesser is not new to the world of diet and exercise or controversy as it relates to weight and health. His first book, “Big Fat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health,” was published in 1966. His most recent book is “It’s the Calories, Not the Carbs.”
According to ThinkMuscle.com, Gaesser graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California in 1972 and earned his Ph.D. in 1978, specializing in exercise physiology. Currently, he is an associate professor of exercise physiology and associate director of the adult fitness program at the University of Virginia.
In his research, Gaesser found that diets high in carbohydrates are almost universally associated with slimmer bodies, and consuming lots of high-glycemic foods is not associated with higher body weights. In fact, he says, several large studies in the United States found that diets consisting of high-glycemic foods were linked to better weight control. Gaesser says that there’s “no reason to be eating fewer carbs – they’re not the enemy.”
According to the Supermarket Guru, the body converts carbs to sugar molecules, which are either burned or stored. The faster the conversion takes place, the quicker the blood sugar goes up, thus the higher the glycemic index (GI). White bread, for example, will break down quicker than an apple. The theory is that when blood sugar goes up quickly, metabolism is affected. The body responds with a surge of insulin, which is said to cause the sugar to be stored in muscle and fat.
Gaesser gives a similar explanation of the GI, which he says is the basis for the terms “good” and “bad” carbs. In other words, a carb’s label, good or bad, is determined by how much it raises the blood sugar. That would mean white bread is a “bad” carb, while an apple is a “good” carb.
However, both the Supermarket Guru and Gaesser say it’s really not that simple. Gaesser says that digestion is a complicated process, and the GI is not a reliable description of carb quality. The Supermarket Guru explains that the GI only measures the carbohydrate in food and can be deceiving. For example, a carrot has a high GI, but the blood sugar is hardly affected by eating a carrot. That’s where glycomic load comes in, which is the GI multiplied by the amount of carb in a serving. A carrot has a glycomic load of 3 and a baked potato has a glycomic load of 26. As such, it’s very difficult to determine the GI of a whole meal, so Gaesser says it doesn’t really make sense to use GI or “glycemic load.”
After examining hundreds of large-scale studies using surveys or randomized, controlled trials, Gaesser says they show that “people who consume high-carb diets tend to be slimmer, and often healthier, than people who consume low-carb diets.” Even high-glycemic foods have a place in the diet because, says Gaesser, it’s the overall higher quality of a high-carb diet, which includes more fiber-rich and other nutritional foods, that makes for healthier bodies.
Gaesser says he also looked for a clear link between carbohydrate consumption and illnesses, such as type II diabetes, heart disease and cancer. He found no evidence that avoiding carbohydrates with a high GI helps prevent these or other diseases. However, Gaesser found, very sedentary, obese women and people with diabetes may benefit from eating fewer foods with a high GI.
Bottom line, says Gaesser, a sufficient reduction of carbs, proteins or fats in any diet will result in weight loss in the short term if the calorie count is low enough. But, he says, the best diet for long-term weight maintenance is a high-carb, low-fat diet.
Press release, ‘Bad Carbs’ Not the Enemy, Professor Says; http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/533820/
Supermarket Guru; http://www.supermarketguru.com/page.cfm/2468