WASHINGTON — Avoiding carbohydrates to keep a slim figure? You may want to rethink the decision. A new study finds that high-carb diets can actually help you lose weight, trim fat, and even boost insulin function — but don’t start chowing down on bagels and croissants just yet.
Researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit that supports following a vegan diet, say the key is to consume whole, complex carbohydrates found in produce or foods made from whole grains. Their findings were published this month in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.
“Fad diets often lead people to fear carbohydrates. But the research continues to show that healthy carbohydrates — from fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains — are the healthiest fuel for our bodies,” says lead study author Dr. Hana Kahleova, the director of clinical research for the PCRM, in a media release.
For the study, the authors recruited 75 overweight adults to take part in the 16-week trial. Thirty-eight of the participants were asked to follow a plant-based, low-fat diet that allowed the individuals to consume as many calories and carbohydrates as they liked during the study period. But they had to avoid all animal products, foods with added oils, and could only consume up to 30 grams of fat each day.
The remaining participants were told to continue on with their current diets to serve as the control.
The results showed that those who followed the high-carb plant-based diet group shed considerable amounts of weight and fat — particularly visceral fat, which builds up around the belly and is linked to numerous health hazards — while reducing their body mass index. Insulin resistance also decreased significantly.
Of course, those in the control group saw no notable changes.
The authors also point to a recent study published in The Lancet that found people who follow animal-based, low-carb diets have shorter lifespans versus those who follow plant-based, high-carb diets. A study presented in August at the European Society of Cardiology’s Congress 2018 claimed that low-carb diets were “unsafe” could lead to an earlier death.