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New Research: High-carb meals activate brain areas associated with addiction and hunger

What kind of study was this?

This was part of a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) to examine the effects of eating diets with varying amounts of carbohydrates. This specific paper was on brain scans the researchers did on participants before and after their meals. In RCTs, researchers randomly assign participants to different groups that receive different interventions. Researchers then measure changes in outcomes after the intervention and compare differences between the groups.

What did researchers want to know?

The larger study was intended to find out whether the amount of carbohydrate in our diets leads to obesity apart from total calories. This paper is based on a smaller study that was an offshoot of the larger study. Researchers wanted to know what happens in parts of the brain related to addiction and hunger when we eat high-carbohydrate vs. low-carbohydrate diets.

What did the researchers actually do?

As a part of the larger study, researchers randomly assigned participants to one of three groups: a low-carbohydrate group (carbs = 20% of total daily calories), a moderate-carbohydrate group (carbs = 40%), and a high-carbohydrate group (carbs = 60%). Participants were given all their food so the researchers knew exactly what they ate. The researchers used MRI machines to scan the brains of research participants before and after eating.

What did the researchers find?

In a part of the brain associated with addiction (the nucleus accumbens), blood flow was 43% higher on the high-carb diet compared to the low-carb diet. And in a part of the brain related to hunger, blood flow was 41% higher on the high- vs. low-carb diet.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

You know when people talk about being addicted to sugar and carbs? Now there’s hard science to support those feelings. If you’re trying to reduce carbs in your and your family’s diet, just remember that sugar and carbs trigger the addiction and hunger parts of our brains. Take it slow, give yourself and others grace, and keep making small, sustainable changes.

Original article:
Holsen, L, et al. Diets Varying in Carbohydrate Content Differentially Alter Brain Activity in Homeostatic and Reward Regions in Adults, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 8, August 2021, Pages 2465–2476,
https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab090

New Research: High-carb meals activate brain areas associated with addiction and hunger

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New Research: High-carb meals activate brain areas associated with addiction and hunger

New research suggests that there are reasons why sweets and bread feel so addicting

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Key takeaways

1

Ever felt you like you're addicted to sugar and carbs?

2

Now there’s hard, scientific evidence that it’s not just in your mind; it’s in your brain

3

People eating a high-carb diet had much greater blood flow in parts of their brain related to addiction and hunger than people eating a low-carb diet

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What kind of study was this?

This was part of a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) to examine the effects of eating diets with varying amounts of carbohydrates. This specific paper was on brain scans the researchers did on participants before and after their meals. In RCTs, researchers randomly assign participants to different groups that receive different interventions. Researchers then measure changes in outcomes after the intervention and compare differences between the groups.

What did researchers want to know?

The larger study was intended to find out whether the amount of carbohydrate in our diets leads to obesity apart from total calories. This paper is based on a smaller study that was an offshoot of the larger study. Researchers wanted to know what happens in parts of the brain related to addiction and hunger when we eat high-carbohydrate vs. low-carbohydrate diets.

What did the researchers actually do?

As a part of the larger study, researchers randomly assigned participants to one of three groups: a low-carbohydrate group (carbs = 20% of total daily calories), a moderate-carbohydrate group (carbs = 40%), and a high-carbohydrate group (carbs = 60%). Participants were given all their food so the researchers knew exactly what they ate. The researchers used MRI machines to scan the brains of research participants before and after eating.

What did the researchers find?

In a part of the brain associated with addiction (the nucleus accumbens), blood flow was 43% higher on the high-carb diet compared to the low-carb diet. And in a part of the brain related to hunger, blood flow was 41% higher on the high- vs. low-carb diet.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

You know when people talk about being addicted to sugar and carbs? Now there’s hard science to support those feelings. If you’re trying to reduce carbs in your and your family’s diet, just remember that sugar and carbs trigger the addiction and hunger parts of our brains. Take it slow, give yourself and others grace, and keep making small, sustainable changes.

Original article:
Holsen, L, et al. Diets Varying in Carbohydrate Content Differentially Alter Brain Activity in Homeostatic and Reward Regions in Adults, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 8, August 2021, Pages 2465–2476,
https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab090

What kind of study was this?

This was part of a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) to examine the effects of eating diets with varying amounts of carbohydrates. This specific paper was on brain scans the researchers did on participants before and after their meals. In RCTs, researchers randomly assign participants to different groups that receive different interventions. Researchers then measure changes in outcomes after the intervention and compare differences between the groups.

What did researchers want to know?

The larger study was intended to find out whether the amount of carbohydrate in our diets leads to obesity apart from total calories. This paper is based on a smaller study that was an offshoot of the larger study. Researchers wanted to know what happens in parts of the brain related to addiction and hunger when we eat high-carbohydrate vs. low-carbohydrate diets.

What did the researchers actually do?

As a part of the larger study, researchers randomly assigned participants to one of three groups: a low-carbohydrate group (carbs = 20% of total daily calories), a moderate-carbohydrate group (carbs = 40%), and a high-carbohydrate group (carbs = 60%). Participants were given all their food so the researchers knew exactly what they ate. The researchers used MRI machines to scan the brains of research participants before and after eating.

What did the researchers find?

In a part of the brain associated with addiction (the nucleus accumbens), blood flow was 43% higher on the high-carb diet compared to the low-carb diet. And in a part of the brain related to hunger, blood flow was 41% higher on the high- vs. low-carb diet.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

You know when people talk about being addicted to sugar and carbs? Now there’s hard science to support those feelings. If you’re trying to reduce carbs in your and your family’s diet, just remember that sugar and carbs trigger the addiction and hunger parts of our brains. Take it slow, give yourself and others grace, and keep making small, sustainable changes.

Original article:
Holsen, L, et al. Diets Varying in Carbohydrate Content Differentially Alter Brain Activity in Homeostatic and Reward Regions in Adults, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 8, August 2021, Pages 2465–2476,
https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab090

What kind of study was this?

This was part of a larger randomized controlled trial (RCT) to examine the effects of eating diets with varying amounts of carbohydrates. This specific paper was on brain scans the researchers did on participants before and after their meals. In RCTs, researchers randomly assign participants to different groups that receive different interventions. Researchers then measure changes in outcomes after the intervention and compare differences between the groups.

What did researchers want to know?

The larger study was intended to find out whether the amount of carbohydrate in our diets leads to obesity apart from total calories. This paper is based on a smaller study that was an offshoot of the larger study. Researchers wanted to know what happens in parts of the brain related to addiction and hunger when we eat high-carbohydrate vs. low-carbohydrate diets.

What did the researchers actually do?

As a part of the larger study, researchers randomly assigned participants to one of three groups: a low-carbohydrate group (carbs = 20% of total daily calories), a moderate-carbohydrate group (carbs = 40%), and a high-carbohydrate group (carbs = 60%). Participants were given all their food so the researchers knew exactly what they ate. The researchers used MRI machines to scan the brains of research participants before and after eating.

What did the researchers find?

In a part of the brain associated with addiction (the nucleus accumbens), blood flow was 43% higher on the high-carb diet compared to the low-carb diet. And in a part of the brain related to hunger, blood flow was 41% higher on the high- vs. low-carb diet.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

You know when people talk about being addicted to sugar and carbs? Now there’s hard science to support those feelings. If you’re trying to reduce carbs in your and your family’s diet, just remember that sugar and carbs trigger the addiction and hunger parts of our brains. Take it slow, give yourself and others grace, and keep making small, sustainable changes.

Original article:
Holsen, L, et al. Diets Varying in Carbohydrate Content Differentially Alter Brain Activity in Homeostatic and Reward Regions in Adults, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 151, Issue 8, August 2021, Pages 2465–2476,
https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab090

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