Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Breaking Fast and Craving Carbs

Breakfast has long been associated with pancakes, waffles, and other items of starchy goodness, so it comes as no surprise that breaking a fast, literally, leads us to reach for simple carbohydrates.

A new study conducted by researchers at Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab found that after an 18-hour period without food, individuals were 31% more likely to reach for carbs than their non-fasting counterparts.

Participants were divided into a fasting group and a control group to study the types of food consumed rather than simply net calories under fasting circumstances. The findings suggest that individuals who engage in food deprivation (because of doctor’s orders, strict dieting, or hectic schedules), are more likely to crave starches that provide the body with an instant energy boost.

Additionally, researchers found that the foods that were eaten first were generally eaten the most.

Overall calorie consumption per meal mirrored the caloric value of the first foods selected and those who chose starches generally ate more than those in the control group who opted for a more balanced plate.

This study offers support for small, balanced snacks throughout the day to keep metabolism in check and prevent cravings from kicking in. Even relatively mild food deprivation can alter the foods people choose to eat, potentially leading them to eat starches first and most.

So what’s the take-away here? Dieters and individuals in situations of food deprivation would be wise to keep carbohydrate-laden snacks tucked away and make veggies and lean proteins more accessible and visible.

If you feel a carb craving kick in, try munching on vegetables first, and only give in to the craving once your initial hunger has been suppressed. You might find the craving disappears altogether!

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