Even carbohydrates count as calories


February 16, 1993|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

Do you believe that you can't gain weight on a high carbohydrate diet?

This modern nutrition idea becomes myth-information when carried to extremes.

Recently, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute sponsored a discussion among four experts in the area of exercise, weight control and nutrition.

Their responses were based on research which suggests that, while there are many advantages to a high carbohydrate diet, too much of even that good thing will result in unwanted weight gain.

William D. McArdle, textbook author and professor of health and physical education at Queens College of the City University of New York, summed it up this way: " . . . it is much more efficient to store calories from dietary fat as body fat than to store an excess of carbohydrates as fat. . . . However, I still think it should be stressed that excess calories, regardless of the source, will ultimately be stored as fat."

But eating too much fat will make you even fatter.

James O. Hill, associate professor at the Center of Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, says, "When you eat calories in excess of your energy requirements, you're going to gain weight. . . . We've done research in our laboratory that suggests that if you eat an equal number of calories as carbohydrate or fat, you'll have greater fat storage with the higher fat diet."

However, eating lots of carbos may limit your urge to eat.

Jack H. Wilmore, professor in the department of kinesiology and health education at the University of Texas, refers to research suggesting that energy intake is tied to the body's need to refill its carbohydrate stores. "If you maintain a low carbohydrate intake, you will tend to eat more food in order to replace your carbohydrate stores." He believes your body will be more quickly satisfied with more carbohydrates, so you're less likely to overeat.

But you still have to stop in time.

Jean T. Snook, professor in the department of human nutrition and food management at Ohio State University, countered with the fact that " . . . follow-up studies in which subjects depleted their glycogen stores then overate carbohydrate suggested that once carbohydrate stores are full, there is significant fat synthesis."

So the old rule still applies. Every calorie counts, even if some count more than others.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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