There’s good news for people who are trying to shed a few kilos while still enjoying their daily dose of carbs. New research has found that a high-carbohydrate diet can lead to weight loss, despite the common belief that high-carb diets only cause waistlines to expand.
But before you start reaching for the pizza and pasta, you should know there’s a catch. While researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found diets high in carbohydrates can reduce body weight and body fat while improving insulin function in overweight adults, it only applies to certain types of carbs.
The study, published in the Nutrients Journal, used a 16-week randomised clinical trial where participants were placed in either a plant-based, high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet group or a group where they were asked to simply maintain their normal diet without changes.
The plant-based participants cut out all animal products and limited fat intake to 20-30 grams a day. There were no calorie or carbohydrate limits for this group and along with the other group, exercise routines weren’t altered.
The control group saw no change in carbohydrate intake, but it increased significantly in the plant-based group, both as absolute intake and as a percentage of total calories. Participants were consuming complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, rather than consuming carbs from bread and junk food.
Body mass index, body weight, fat mass, visceral fat volume and insulin resistance each decreased significantly in people who consumed a plant-based diet, although there weren’t any dramatic changes in the control group.
“Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates,” lead author Hana Kahleova said in a statement. “But the research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates – from fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains – are the healthiest for our bodies.”
While the results may be surprising for some, researchers said the new findings support previous studies that showed plant-based, high-carbohydrate diets can assist with weight regulation, body composition and reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
The latest results come after a study published earlier this year claimed eating pasta could aid weight loss.
Research published in the BMJ Open Journal found that eating pasta wasn’t linked to weight gain and when teamed with the right diet, could actually help people lose weight. When eaten with other low-glycaemic index foods, which don’t usually cause blood sugar to spike, people who ate either pasta or other carbohydrates were more likely to lose weight.
Another 25-year study published last month in the Lancet Public Health Journal found following a low-carb diet could actually shorten lifespan.
The results of the study showed that from age 50, the average life expectancy for those with moderate carbohydrate intake was four years longer than those who consumed very low levels of carbohydrates.
Researchers of that study also found low-carb diets that involved people consuming animal-based proteins and fats were linked with a greater risk of early death, but low-carbs diets that involved people consuming plant-based proteins and fats were linked with a reduced risk of early death.