Cutting out only a modest amount of carbohydrates from your diet may make you feel fuller longer, which may help you eat less, according to a study from University of Alabama at Birmingham, reported at The Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Washington, DC.
In the National Institutes of Health-sponsored study, researchers found that a very moderate reduction in the percentage of kilojoules from carbohydrates may stabilise blood sugar and thereby prolong feelings of fullness.
"There has been great public interest in low-carbohydrate diets for weight loss, but they are difficult to maintain, in part because of the drastic reduction in carbohydrates," a study investigator Dr Barbara Gower noted.
"The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005) recommend that carbohydrates make up 45% to 65% of daily kilojoules consumed," added Dr Paula Chandler-Laney, "and most Americans consume around 50% of kilojoules from carbohydrates."
How the study was done
For one month, the researchers had 14 adults consume a standard American diet, made up of 55% kilojoules from carbohydrate, 27% from fat, and 18% from protein. At the same time, they had 16 adults consume a moderate-carbohydrate diet, with 43% of kilojoules from carbohydrates, 39% from fat, and 18% from protein. Both groups ate enough kilojoules to maintain their pre-study weight.
According to the researchers, compared with the subjects in the standard-diet group, those in the moderate-carbohydrate group reported that they felt fuller longer after a meal.
There is a fairly straight forward reason for this, Chandler-Laney explained. "Following a typical meal, glucose (blood sugar) increases, then insulin increases in response to the elevated glucose, and then glucose drops because insulin acts to store glucose. The drop in glucose in response to insulin contributes to subsequent feelings of hunger."
"Therefore," she continued, "by providing a meal that was lower in carbohydrate content (43%), we did not get as much of a 'spike' and drop in glucose concentration, which may have been the reason why those on the 43% carbohydrate meal reported that satiety, or 'fullness', stayed higher for longer."
Over the long run, if people can continue to eat meals with a moderate reduction in carbohydrate content, they may be less susceptible to weight gain because of their improved fullness, Chandler-Laney said. – (Reuters Health, June 2009)
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