Carbohydrates make it easier for people to gain weight, its meaning other than just calories

When we consider that “eating a lot leads to gaining weight…,” I believe you have the image of carbohydrates like bread, rice and noodles in mind.

  This time, I am going to explain the reason why carbohydrates (*1) make it easier for people to gain weight, not because of an increase in calories or of its tendency to higher blood pressure, but by other indirect meanings.

(*1) Although technically sugar is also a sort of carbohydrate, I use the word carbohydrate here to mean “polysaccharide” such as starches and grains.

1. If there were no carbohydrate

  When my total body weight fell down to around 35kg, it would have been impossible to have gained weight without the help of carbohydrates. In my case, neither oil (fat) nor sugar could have done that … In other words, I would never have gained weight by eating cream-filled cakes or oily pork cutlets and Chinese food. I am going to explain the reason next.

  To be precise, I don’t mean all “carbohydrates,” but just refined digestible carbohydrates (such as white bread, rice, potato, starch etc.).

  Thus, in the case of brown rice, fried rice, whole-grain bread and al dente cooked pasta etc., the result may be different even though they are the same carbohydrates. These are known as foods that won’t increase blood sugar levels (glycemic index, resistant starch) but in short, they are “indigestible”.

2. With indigestible foods, it is difficult to gain weight

  When you always eat indigestible foods, such as the above-referenced carbohydrates that don’t increase the blood sugar level, oil (fat), high-fiber vegetable, seaweed and dairy products, it can be said that it is difficult to gain weight: “Base Weight” in my definition is unlikely to go up.

  As I have already explained, each person’s Base Weight level will not go up since the body recognizes that “the state which undigested foods are still in the intestine” = “there are still foods” → “there is no need to store.”

  I’m saying that it is difficult to gain weight if a thin person eats properly every day.

  Although a person who has already gained weight may not lose weight by eating some, I consider this that it may be possible to lose weight depending on how you eat them, since these foods are always discussed in dieting techniques.

3. The effect of carbohydrates that make it easier for people to gain weight

  Contrarily, refined digestible carbohydrate (rice, white bread, potato, starch etc.) will promote digestion. By eating together with digestible side dishes (meat and fish with less fat), they make it easier to create hunger.

  That is to say, “intestinal starvation state” will be occur more easily.There are 2 effects that I can think of so far.

(1) Dilution Effect 

  You may have heard the word “PFC Balance (protein, fat, carbohydrate)” and currently in Japan, it is said to be ideal to take 50 to 65% of energy from carbohydrate in average (Food Intake Standard-2015). However, I believe many people take still around 70%.

  If you proportionally increase digestible carbohydrates, the percentage of side dishes such as fat, meat, fish and vegetables will be relatively smaller. The density of a spoonful of oil will be lower if you add water by doubling your bread or rice portions.
  Raw egg is indigestible but if you eat together with bread and coffee, the density of the egg will be lower.

  If the amount of side dishes are the same for everyone, the one who has relatively more carbs and water will be sending diluted nutrition to the intestine. So it will be easier to be hungry (intestinal starvation).

  For example, let’s say I eat a hamburger and a potato, another piece of bread and tea altogether.

  If we mix these all in a blender, it will be something like meat diluted with starch and water.(figure below)

  If I remove the bread and add broccoli mayonnaise salad… The dilution effect of carbohydrates will be less and fiber and fat will be added.

※ On calorie basis, broccoli mayonnaise salad is about 70 to 100kcal. However, adding it to the meal doesn’t have the same meaning as adding another piece of bread . This is why calorie intake basis thinking may go wrong.

  On the other hand, what would happen if I proportionally decrease carbohydrate? As you can see in low-carb diet, if I decrease the carbohydrates of the main meal and increase proteins such as meat and fish, oil or vegetables, I can send nutrition of higher density to my intestine.

  In this case, there will be the reverse effect that secures nutrition and causes less hunger. Moreover, since our intestines are long, about 6 to 7m, while the food is still inside our intestines, there will be indigestible substances that prevents intestinal starvation.

(2) Pushing out Effect 

  When we take carbohydrates together with water, our stomach expands (“balloon effect” of stomach).

  However, if we take carbohydrates together with digestible side dishes such as stew, its holding time will be shorter and the food will be pushed out of the stomach soon. Also, our intestine starts to move actively.

  For a foreigner, it may be easier to imagine instant noodle and toast or rice.

  Though our stomach does expand after we eat, since it’s easy to digest, it will start moving actively and smoothly. I had the problem with my stomach and intestines and suffered often from constipation or diarrhea, but this resolved it several times. And not just that our stomach starts to move but since the foods are digestible, it will be easier to be in an intestinal starvation state.

  On the other hand, though there are people who say taking meals with a lot of oil (Chinese food or fried food) will give us stamina, it actually means that it stays in stomach for a longer time and its energy could be sustained during sports. That is to say, since its holding time in stomach will be longer, it will be more difficult for us to become hungry (intestinal starvation).

Lastly, taking into account the reasons stated above,

(1) I consider sugar (monosaccharide, disaccharide) and


(starch, cereal) can not be put into the same category since they have slightly different characteristics.
  Recently-popular low-carb diets pay attention only to the “characteristics that increase blood sugar rate easily” so I don't believe it’s sufficient.

(2) Obesity among poverty stricken people worldwide can be understood as the influence of cheap carbohydrates (cereal, starch) and unbalanced foods (lack of vegetable etc.). Considering them, it may be easier to imagine that they are not gaining weight due to taking too much calories or sugar, but rather from consuming cheap carbohydrates as mentioned above.

(3) Also, the fact that Sumo wrestlers (Japanese national sports) eat hot pot dishes called “Chanko-nabe” with a lot of rice in order to make their bodies larger is a very logical view in this sense.

Debate whether carbohydrate makes us fat or calorie makes us fat


・Up through the 1960s, there were some research and studies that obese people were able to lose weight by replacing many of their carbohydrates to plenty of dietary fats or meats, etc, without thinking about calories.
  On the contrary, when overweight students were put on conventional semi-starvation diets, they lost little weight and they were discouraged because they were always conscious of being hungry.

・in the 1960s, few doctors were willing to accept a cure for obesity predicated on the notion that fat people can eat large portions of food. They believed that the obvious reason of obesity is that fat people eat too much.

・Health officials had come to believe that dietary fat causes heart disease, and that carbohydrates are “heart-healthy" in the 1960s.
  As a result, doctors and nutritionists started attacking carbohydrate restricted diets because they believed dietary fat causes heart attacks and that a diet that replaces carbohydrates with more fatty foods threatens to kill us.

1.Old history of low carbohydrate

 In Japan, Locabo diet (meaning a low-carb diet) was popular around 2015, but when we look around the world, this way was repeatedly conducted since the 1800s.
 Though there will be a lot of quotes, I will explain this. This is very interesting in view of my theory.

  Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin was born in 1755. His passion, though, was always food and drink, or what he called the “pleasures of the table”. He began writing down his thoughts on the subject in the 1790s; Brillat-Savarin published them in a book, The Physiology of Taste, in December 1825. (*snip*)

“Tell me what you eat,” Brillat-Savarin memorably wrote, “and I shall tell you what you are."
 Over the course of thirty years, he wrote, he had held more than five hundred conversations with dinner companions who were “threatened or afflicted with obesity,” one “fat man” after another, declaring their devotion to bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. This led Brillat-Savarin to conclude that the roots of obesity were obvious.(P.148)
  The first was a natural predisposition to fatten. “Some people,” he wrote, “in whom the digestive forces manufacture, all things being equal, a greater supply of fat are, as it were, destined to be obese.”

 The second was “the starches and flours which man uses as the base of his daily nourishment,” and he added that “starch produces this effect more quickly and surely when it is used with sugar."

 This, of course, made the cure obvious as well. (*snip*)..... It can be deduced, as an exact consequence, that a more or less rigid abstinence from everything that is starchy or floury will lead to the lessening of weight.” (*snip*)

 What Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1825 has been repeated and reinvented numerous times since. Up through the 1960s, it was the conventional wisdom, what our parents or our grandparents instinctively believed to be true. (pp.148-149)
(Citation from “Why We Get Fat?” by Gary Taubes)
 Jean-Francois Dancel (a French physician) presented his thoughts on obesity in 1844 to the French Academy of Sciences and then published a book, Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence: The Various Causes and the Rational Means of a Cure.
All food which is not flesh ―all food rich in carbon and hydrogen [i.e., carbohydrates] ―must have a tendency to produce fat,” wrote Dancel.
 Dancel also noted that carnivorous animals are never fat, whereas herbivores, living exclusively on plants, often are. (*snip*)
 Dancel claimed that he could cure obesity “without a single exception” if he could induce his patients to live “chiefly upon meat," and partake “only of a small quantity of other food."
 Dancel argued that physicians of his era believed obesity to be incurable because the diets they prescribed to cure it were precisely those that happened to cause it. (pp.151-152)

(Note: This is common with my blog and the point made by Mr. Gary Taubes)

 Until the early years of the twentieth century, physicians typically considered obesity a disease, and a virtually incurable one, against which, as with cancer, it was reasonable to try anything. Inducing patients to eat less and/or exercise more was just one of many treatments that might be considered. (*snip*)

 In the 1869 edition of The Practice of Medicine, the British physician Thomas Tanner published a lengthy list of “ridiculous" treatments that doctors had prescribed for obesity over the years. (*snip*)

 “All these plans," wrote Tanner, "however perseveringly carried out, fail to accomplish the object desired; and the same must be said of simple sobriety in eating and drinking.” (Tanner did believe, however, that abstinence from carbohydrates was one method, perhaps the only one, that worked. “Farinaceous [starchy] and vegetable foods are fattening, and saccharine matters [i.e., sweets] are especially so,” he wrote.) (p.151)

 Margaret Ohlson (head of the nutrition department at Michigan State University, in the 1950s)
 When overweight students were put on conventional semi-starvation diets, Ohlson reported, they lost little weight and “reported a lack of ‘pep’ throughout... [and] they were discouraged because they were always conscious of being hungry.”
 When they ate only a few hundred carbohydrate calories a day but plenty of protein and fat, they lost an average of three pounds per week and “reported a feeling of well-being and satisfaction. Hunger between meals was not a problem.”
The reports continued into the 1970s.
The dieters lost weight with little effort and felt little or no hunger while doing so.(pp.157-158)
(Citation from “Why We Get Fat?” by Gary Taubes)

2.The reason doctors couldn’t accept carbohydrate restriction

 As you can see, it seems that reducing carbohydrates and sugar and eating more other things would lead to resolving obesity... but here is the basic rule of calories.

 By the 1960s, obesity had come to be perceived as an eating disorder.  (*snip*)
 Adiposity 101 was discussed in the physiology, endocrinology, and biochemistry journals, but rarely crossed over into the medical journals or the literature on obesity itself.

 When it did, as in a lengthy article in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 1963, it was ignored. Few doctors were willing to accept a cure for obesity predicated on the notion that fat people can eat large portions of any food, let alone as much as they want. This simply ran contrary to what had now come to be accepted as the obvious reason why fat people get fat to begin with, that they eat too much. 

 But there was another problem as well. Health officials had come to believe that dietary fat causes heart disease, and that carbohydrates are what these authorities would come to call heart-healthy." (*snip*)
 This belief in the carbohydrate as "heart-healthy” started in the 1960s and it couldn't be reconciled with the idea that carbohydrates make us fat. After all, if dietary fat causes heart attacks, then a diet that replaces carbohydrates with more fatty foods threatens to kill us, even if it slims us down in the process. As a result, doctors and nutritionists started attacking carbohydrate restricted diets (pp.159-160)

 The Times article, “New Diet Decried by Nutritionists: Dangers Are Seen in Low Carbohydrate Intake,” quoted Harvard's Jean Mayer as claiming that to prescribe carbohydrate-restricted diets to the public was “the equivalent of mass murder.”

 First, as the Times explained, “It is a medical fact that no dieter can lose weight unless he cuts down on excess calories, either by taking in fewer of them, or by burning them up." We now know that this is not a medical fact, but the nutritionists didn't in 1965, and most of them still don't.
 Second, because these diets restrict carbohydrates, they compensate by allowing more fat. It's the high-fat nature of the diets, the Times explained, that prompted Mayer to make the mass murder accusation.(p.161)
(Citation from “Why We Get Fat?” by Gary Taubes)