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Some Swear By It: The Carbo-Load Diet

Some Docs Think What Was Once Taboo Is Now A Must Try
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Penne (WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Low-carb diets are so popular they can seem like the only way to go to drop the pounds.

But now a high-carb alternative is gaining popularity for boosting your mood while slimming your waistline.

Not long ago many people were refusing the bread basket, passing up pasta and ordering burgers without buns.

“I really avoid bread. I think that’s like the devil,” the Upper West Side’s Beth Lowy told CBS 2’s Dr. Holly Phillips.

“I don’t eat bagels; don’t eat a lot of rice,” added Ilea Henriques of Riverdale.

Carbs were considered the enemy in the battle of the bulge, but now imagine eating mostly carbohydrates in a day and still losing weight. It’s all part of the latest weight loss craze — the serotonin power diet.

“People look at this and think, this is too much pasta,” said Dr. Nina Frusztajer.

Frusztajer said eating a diet rich in carbohydrates can help to increase production of serotonin — a naturally-occurring chemical in the brain that can help to boost your mood, make you feel happy. It can also slow down your appetite and keep cravings at bay.

“So the weight-loss program is based on harnessing the power of serotonin so you can eat less and lose weight,” Dr. Frusztajer said.

To harness the power of serotonin, Frusztajer said you need to eat more — not less – carbohydrates.

“Carbohydrates set off a series of chemical reactions in your body that allows your brain to make more serotonin,” Dr. Frusztajer said.

But not all carbs are created equal.

“Grains are very good. Veggies with high-fiber content are very good,” cardiologist Dr. Franz Messerli said.

Messerli said you want to eat the right carbs — like whole grain bread instead of processed white bread, whole wheat pastas or high-fiber foods like beans.

“The serotonin power diet really debunks the myth that eating carbs leads to weight gain,” Dr. Frusztajer said.

And snacks are key, between meals and after dinner. Frusztajer said they should be low fat and not fruit, like pretzels or popcorn or even hot chocolate and marshmallows.

Many feel the high-carb diet sounds just too good to be true and they’re skeptical of how it works, and experts are quick to point out that no matter what the diet research shows they all result in similar weight loss.

“It doesn’t really seem to matter what diet you’re on, as long as you stick with it and then incorporate other healthful behaviors such as exercise,” internist Dr. Christine Mackey said.

But Frusztajer said if really stick with it, the serotonin power diet works.

Patients with diabetes or high cholesterol should talk with their doctors before starting a high-carb diet. For more information, please click here.

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