According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, all calories are not created equal. Certain carbohydrates can actually trigger more food cravings that may cause you to overeat. The researchers found that some high-glycemic foods can actually influence your brain in ways that cause you to overeat.
Glycemic Index (GI) impacts how quickly foods metabolize in the bloodstream. Foods that have high glycemic indexes cause a spike in your blood sugar, which also causes a crash in blood sugar when the effect wears off.
Certain processed carbohydrates, according to the study may cause food cravings, which might cause some to eat more than others. Now it's important to note that not everyone who eats these types of carbohydrates develops these kinds of uncontrollable cravings, but it might help explain why some of us are more susceptible than others.
Are you at Risk?
While it is difficult to say who is at risk and who is not, limiting these types of high glycemic foods makes sense if you struggle to lose weight and keep it off. Certain carbohydrates cause our brain's pleasure and reward centers to light up and while this may be a good thing when it comes to your mood, it might be a bad thing when it comes to your weight.
The study involved twelve obese men who were fed different types of milkshakes, which were identical in taste but different in terms of ingredients. One batch of shakes was made with high-glycemic corn syrup and the other with a low-glycemic product. They each had similar amounts of milk, vanilla and calories.
What the study found was that the high-glycemic milkshakes actually caused the men's blood sugar to crash four hours after drinking the mixture with the subjects also reporting more hunger. Brain scans showed a greater amount of activity in the reward center of the brain that regulates cravings and addictive behaviors.
What does this Mean?
What this means is that your food cravings may not entirely be your fault! If you struggle with weight management, and you tend to go for foods that are higher in the glycemic index, it might behoove you to try and eliminate high-glycemic foods from your diet. It seems these types of high-glycemic foods can cause a chain reaction of unhealthy eating behavior.
In the end, not all calories are created equally so if you have been wondering why your best friend tends to have an easier time with weight management, and you both get similar amounts of exercise, the secret may lie in the fact that your friend might tend to choose foods that are lower on the glycemic scale.
Typical High-Glycemic Foods
Foods like white bread, sugary foods and snacks and other kinds of overly processed carbohydrates tend to be higher on the glycemic index causing your blood sugar to spike and then crash. Lower glycemic foods might include things like whole grains, vegetables and even certain types of fruit. You are basically looking for foods that are in their least processed state. Vegetables are naturally high in fiber and low in sugar so they always make a smart choice.
While this study may not have been a very large one in terms of size, its results could be life changing for you if you struggle with food cravings. Just something to think about the next time you reach for a snack.
Lennerz, B. S., Alsop, D. C., & Holsen, L. M., Stern, E., Rojas, R., Ebbeling, C. B., Goldstein, J. M. and Ludwig, D. S. (2013, June 26). Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. The American Journal od Clinical Nutrition.