“The largest and longest feeding study to test the ‘carbohydrate-insulin model'” concludes that a lower carb intake burns more calories, which may help people maintain weight loss over a longer period of time.
Cara Ebbeling, Ph.D., together with Dr. David Ludwig — both at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts — led the new study, which now appears in the BMJ.
As they explain, when we lose weight, the body adapts by lowering its energy expenditure. In other words, it burns fewer calories.
This way, the metabolism protects itself against long-term weight changes.
However, when the weight loss is intentional, this adaptive response can be frustrating for dieters, as it leads to weight regain.
Although weight gain after dieting is a well-known phenomenon, researchers do not know much about how different diets affect the way the metabolism responds to them.
The so-called carbohydrate-insulin model, however, suggests one such mechanism. It posits that highly processed foods high in sugar drive hormonal changes that increase the appetite and lead to weight gain.
“According to this model,” explains Dr. Ludwig, “the processed carbohydrates that flooded our diets during the low-fat era have raised insulin levels, driving fat cells to store excessive calories. With fewer calories available to the rest of the body, hunger increases and metabolism slows — a recipe for weight gain.”
In this context, Ebbeling, Dr. Ludwig, and their colleagues decided to investigate the effects that different diets had on the metabolism. Specifically, they looked at the carb-to-fat ratio in varying diets over a 20-week period.
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