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Scientists finally know why you can’t stop craving carbs

We’ve all been there. You start the week with the best of intentions – smugly snacking on pumpkin seeds and crunching on carrot sticks – but by the time Wednesday rolls around, you simply can’t control the overwhelming urge to order a large Domino’s meat feast pizza with extra garlic bread on the side.

If you’re a carb-o-holic that struggles to get through the day without daydreaming about satiating your cravings, scientists now believe they have found the reason why you’re indifferent to salad but just can’t get enough of bread and pasta. The answer lies in our tastebuds.

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition claims that some people can directly taste starch, and that those who are more sensitive to the taste tend to crave it more – refuting traditional claims that carb hankerings are driven by sugar.


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A study of 34 people by researchers from Deakin University in Australia found that the mouth can taste and identify maltodextrin and oligofructose – two common carbs typically found in foods like bread, pasta and rice.

The study then attempted to measure how sensitive the study subjects were to that taste, and whether being able to identify starch on the tongue directly related to how many carbs people ate on the whole.

To measure the tongue’s sensitivity, the study subjects were given carb solutions at varying concentrations to drink.

If they were able to taste the carbs in a low concentration solution three times in a row, they were considered sensitive to carbs.

The researchers then asked people to spend four days completing a food diary and a food frequency questionnaire, and at the end of the study period, they measured their weight and waistlines.

The results revealed that those who were more sensitive to the taste of carbs tended to have a larger waist circumference – and were more likely to each larger volumes of carbs throughout the week.

Basically, your inability to resist tucking into the bread basket while all of your friends abstain is actually down to the sensitivity of your tongue – and not your lack of willpower.

The researchers now believe that their findings could explain why some people are more likely to be obese, and could help to further tackle our growing obesity crisis.

“[The study results] could mean that individuals who are more sensitive to the ‘taste’ of carbohydrate also have some form of subconscious accelerator that increases carbohydrate or starchy food consumption,” says Professor Russell Keast who led the study.

However, Keast believes that “much more research” needs to be done to identify the reason why.

For now though, it provides a great excuse for helping yourself to that third slice of pizza.