Nutrition

Client:  National Barley Foods Council
Project:  Food media newsletter
Article:  The truth about complex carbs and weight

Lately we’ve seen a resurgence of books touting high-protein, low-carb
diets. Many advocates of high-protein diets have blamed the rise of
obesity in the United States on the consumption of high-carbohydrate
foods. This assumption is not completely accurate. The science simply
does not support it.

The truth is, there is no scientific evidence to date that indicates carbohydrates, especially complex carbohydrates
such as cereal grains, stimulate the appetite and cause weight gain. The fact is weight gain happens when we eat
more food and expend less energy, regardless of the type of food consumed.  In other words, moderation, balance
and exercise are key to a healthful weight management plan.

Here are more facts about complex carbohydrates:

  • Complex carbohydrate foods supply many vitamins and minerals and are typically low in fat.  Many, such
    as pearl barley, are also cholesterol-free.
  • Many complex carbohydrate foods, such as pearl barley, are rich in dietary fiber.  Studies show that foods
    high in dietary fiber can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain types of disease.
  • Complex carbohydrate foods provide fuel for the body.  They are especially important for maintaining
    endurance and energy during physical exercise.  Complex carbohydrates help to replenish energy
    after exercise as well.
  • Most Americans are not eating enough complex carbohydrates.  According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines
    for Americans, we should eat about six-plus servings of cereal products each day.  That may sound like a
    lot, but one serving is equal to half cup of cooked barley, one slice of bread, a half bagel, or one cup of
    cold cereal.  It’s important to note that at least half of the daily servings should be whole-grain products
    such as whole-grain barley and whole-wheat bread and oatmeal.

Complex carbohydrates are indeed an essential part of a healthful diet.  Remember, the key to a successful and
sustained weight management program is eating a variety of foods in moderation and balancing food intake with
regular physical activity.