I often try to have healthier snacks instead of sugary snacks. However, lots of alternative snacks are carbohydrate based, such as crackers and bread sticks. Both carbohydrates and sugar break down into glucose, which is stored as fat if not needed, but carbohydrates take longer to digest and this made me wonder whether it would lead to weight loss if I ate carbohydrates when I was hungry instead of sugar, as carbohydrates would keep me feeling fuller for longer.

Will eating carbohydrates instead of sugary snacks cause me to lose weight?

  • What? You should really make an effort to educate yourself to some basic degree before asking a question like this. Sugar is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are made of sugar molecules. Starch and fiber are the other types of carbs that you will see, but aren’t considered “sugars” because they are digested differently. Furthermore, only a caloric deficit will produce weight loss. You could eat ice cream and nothing but ice cream, and if you did so in a deficit you would lose weight. Fullness is highly correlated with food volume, so finding foods that have low caloric density is a good strategy. – JustSnilloc Feb 3 at 19:00
  • I think what this person is asking is if carbohydrates are better than sugar since they take longer to break down and therefore makes the person feel fuller so they eat less food. (i know carbohydrates turn to sugar in your stomach) – a person who knows somthing Feb 3 at 20:16
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    @JustSnilloc - Insofar as the question is on-topic and phrased in a way that makes sense for the site, we do not really require a baseline level of knowledge before we let people ask questions. I closed the question because it is off-topic, but please don't guilt people into NOT asking questions. – Alec Feb 3 at 20:38
  • @Alec: Considering that people are going to enter such questions in Google and then will get refered to Stackexchange.com, it might considered being "on topic" as it will increase traffic to this website...therefore I would like to have you changed the question accordingly instead of closing it. Also because I couldn't find this question somewhere else...but if there is one, please refer to the question here, thanks. – Marcus Feb 3 at 20:55
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    @JustSnilloc - I agree that you need a certain baseline of arithmetic before it makes sense to ask about algebra. But if you don't know what algebra is, how do you know when to start asking about it? As in this case, if the asker doesn't know that sugar is a carbohydrate, they're always going to think it isn't, unless they engage in a discussion about it. Of course, some times (like here), it means that the question they ask makes no sense, and that's unimportant, because at least they learned something useful anyway. Now they can digest that info (no pun intended), and keep learning. – Alec Feb 4 at 10:13

I think the question you really wanted to ask is: Is it healthier to eat starch-based carbohydrates instead of sugar-based carbohydrates?

A good question, because sugar is not equals sugar. Common sugar is saccharose, usually from the sugar cane, consisting of one part of glucose and one part of fructose. Even if you'd ask about saccharose versus glucose, the answer would not be trivial, although both would be taken up into the blood very fast. But because fructose is actually more difficult to digest and stresses the liver according to several studies, it is certainly less suitable as food during competitions (exercises don't matter, at least if you're not suffering from fatty liver disease).

There is a good book from a Frenchman called "The Montignac Diet". The underlying premises are that if you eat sugars that don't spike your blood sugar, but are released continually from your gut into your blood, then your body will transform less sugar into fat, hence rather burn it. Each food has an unique glycemic index that stimulate different amounts of insulin in your pancreas: The higher the glycemic index, the higher the insulin, the higher the blood sugar spike after having eaten the food.

So, in the end, it does not matter if a certain food is starch based or sugar based: The only important variable is its glycemic index. Therefore you might wanna eat only food with a low glycemic index.

If you look closely at such a glycemic index table or here or look for one here, you will easily recognize that quite often, unprocessed food has a lower glycemic index than processed food.

So, as a rule of thumb, it's better to eat unprocessed food like raw fruits or cooked vegetables since their glycemic index is usually lower than that of processed food! (Note that fruit juice is actually processed, and baked potatoes are heated and therefore processed as well, which actually explains their high glycemic index because starch is being broken down into sugars through processing...)

Personally, if you want to loose weight, I'd suggest drinking no sugared beverages (only cold/warm water or tea) and eating no food with glycemic index over 55 (because brown rice has 55 and I'm not gonna exclude that...), so almost every vegetable and dairy would be allowed (considering you're not lactose intolerant ;-) but not much starch-based food which is usually named as "carbohydrate diet".

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  • @downvoters please comment here why the downvote, we are all learning here except you... – Marcus Feb 3 at 22:27
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    I didn't downvote because my nutrition knowledge is rudimentary. However, "you should eat only food with a low glycemic index" is a pretty loaded statement. You can still get fat eating link sausages (28), peanut M&Ms (33), chocolate milk (34), orange juice (46), and pound cake (54). Nobody is getting fat off watermelon (72). – C. Lange Feb 4 at 20:23
  • @C. Lange: I changed the phrasing accordingly. In my mother tongue "should" is a very soft term and more like "might want to" or "might consider" in English...however, although the hole low-glycemic index diet sounds counterintuitive sometimes, it's true: It's a fact that the French who eat much more fat than the Italians have a lot less obesity problems, since the Italians eat a lot of high-carb Pasta! So yes, you are more likely to become fat from watermelon than sausages... – Marcus Feb 8 at 14:35

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