Breaking The Carb Addiction

In the "Weight Off With The Early Show" series, volunteers from five different cities agreed to follow our weight loss plan. Patty O'Reilly was the California participant from Mountain View. In week seven, she visited us to talk about her progress and get some advice from Dr. Louis Aronne. Her goal was to lose 60 pounds.

Her worst enemy in the fight to shed those unwanted pounds, as it is for so many others: the dreaded carbohydrates! Not only does she love to eat bread, she loves to bake it as well.

Understanding Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are our chief source of nutriment as they all contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Most carbohydrate foods are also inexpensive and readily available. If you eat too few carbohydrates, then you may have fatigue, depression, and a breakdown of body protein for energy. The proportion of carbohydrates in a food depends on the water content of the sample. Milk, fresh vegetables, and fresh fruits have high water content and therefore have less than l00 grams per sample. When you eat dried fruits, the sugar is more concentrated and therefore greater on a weight-for-weight basis than in fresh fruits.

The main dietary carbohydrates that we obtain from cereals and potatoes, for example, are starches, whereas the main dietary carbohydrates in dried fruits and sweeteners are sugars. Baked goods and beer, with both grain and sugar components, are intermediate.

As your body metabolizes carbohydrates, it forms glucose. Glucose is measured in the body as blood sugar and is "burned" as fuel by the tissues in your body. Some is converted to glycogen and stored for later use. Two primary types of carbohydrates are fast-burning and slow-burning carbs.

Fast-burning carbs

Fast-burning carbs have a higher glycemic load, whereas slow-burning carbs have a lower glycemic load (the glycemic load measures how rapidly carbohydrates are absorbed). For those trying to keep their weight under control, slow-burning carbs (with a lower glycemic load) will digest much slower and help a meal have more staying power. On the other hand, fast-burning carbs (with a higher glycemic load) that are more rapidly absorbed will increase one's appetite sooner.

Some examples of fast-burning carbs to avoid are white rice, bagels, white bread and baked white potatoes.

Slow-burning carbs

Slow-burning carbs include grainy whole breads such as 7-grain bread, barley, and sweet potatoes. Bottom line, the foods you choose to accompany your meals will either help your meal be more slowly digested, or it can accelerate digestion. A quickly digested carbohydrate will raise blood sugar levels more quickly and cause rebound hunger.

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