Overeating doesn’t promote obesity, but too many carbohydrates in our diets do, researchers say


Overeating doesn't promote obesity, but too many carbohydrates in our diets do, researchers say

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Carbs can be your worst enemy when trying to lose weight.

The Today show recently highlighted an article that suggests the key to losing weight is more about cutting carbs than worrying so much about how we balance the calories we eat and burn , according to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last December.

“The body defends itself against calorie restriction,” said first author Dr. David Ludwig to Today.

Limiting calories causes people to be hungrier but also slows down metabolism, the show states.

“So there aren’t too many calories in the bloodstream. There aren’t enough.”

The popular keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that puts your body into ketosis, the process by which your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs.

When our bodies produce too much insulin, fat cells are programmed to hoard calories, he explained.

Ludwig, an endocrinologist and professor of pediatrics and nutrition at Harvard Medical School, argues for the “carbohydrate-insulin model” of obesity.

The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin to control the amount of sugar, or glucose, in our bloodstream, where it works like a “key” to help glucose enter our body’s cells, according to Healthline.

Ludwig suggests that our way of thinking about weight loss is backwards.

“For years, faced with the choice between bread and butter, we focused on getting rid of the butter,” says Ludwig.

“But maybe the bread between the two is the bigger problem.”


He says that it’s not so much a question of consuming too many calories, but that the high sugar content of certain carbohydrates causes our bodies to store too much energy, which in turn causes us to eat even more.

We begin to build up fat stores when the calories we eat are greater than the calories we can burn over time, said Dr. Karl Nadolsky, an endocrinologist specializing in diabetes, metabolism and obesity.

“The whole world thinks obesity is about energy balance,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics in the Department of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, who in 2006 described a similar model of excess insulin leading to weight gain.

“That’s why it’s calorie in, calorie out. Therefore, it is about two behaviors, gluttony and sloth. That’s why it’s your fault if you’re fat. So diet and exercise. Therefore, every calorie can be part of a balanced diet.”

Grl looks in the mirror and measures her weight with the scale

Grl looks in the mirror and measures her weight with the scale
(Source: iStock)

Ludwig and his co-authors note that the energy balance theory that people eat more than they burn explains why people gain weight, but doesn’t address “why.”

“The common advice that we tell people, ‘eat less, be more physically active,’ doesn’t work very well. The results aren’t as successful,” said Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

But Ludwig’s article sparked controversy in the medical community, with researchers “defending and deriding” the article, according to MedPage Today.

“If weight loss were as easy as eating fewer carbohydrates, you’d think the two-thirds of Americans who diet each year would have had some success by now,” said Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa and medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute, a non-surgical weight management center.


Nonetheless, significant research is currently being conducted on low-carb diets, with tangible results for some patients.

dr Jeff Volek, a registered dietitian and professor in the Department of Human Sciences at Ohio State University who has been researching low-carb diets for over 25 years, told the Today show that research shows people on a low-carb diet can lose by 10 % of their body weight.

And people put up with it.

Assortment of unhealthy products that are bad for your figure, skin, heart and teeth.  Eat fast carbohydrates.

Assortment of unhealthy products that are bad for your figure, skin, heart and teeth. Eat fast carbohydrates.

The show spotlighted one of his patients, a 42-year-old woman, who in 2019 enrolled in a low-carb diet study that included 37 grams of carbs per day that was also high in protein and healthy fats like avocados and nuts.

She lost 20 pounds in six weeks, but now, three years later, she’s lost a total of 88 pounds.

She told Today that giving up her favorite foods like pasta and potatoes wasn’t easy at first, but the results are worth it.

“When you restrict carbs, the body gets really good at burning its own body fat because it can’t burn a lot of sugar for fuel,” Volek said in Today.

Volek explained to Fox News why low-carb diets often fail.


“The vast majority of adults in the US (well over 100 million people) consume too many carbohydrates relative to their tolerance, which is why low-fat diets don’t work for most people. A strong body of research shows that cutting back on carbohydrates is a safe, effective and sustainable approach to improving weight and metabolic health,” he said.

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