DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’m trying to lose weight, and a friend recently told me that cutting white bread and potatoes out of my diet completely will help. Is that true? If it is, what makes these foods so bad?
ANSWER: Your friend is right. Taking white bread and white potatoes, as well as white rice and white pasta, out of your diet can be helpful for weight loss. Because of the way your body processes these four foods, they can lead to cravings for carbohydrates, also called sugars. By eliminating them, you decrease food cravings, making it easier to eat less and lose weight.
The grains in white bread, white pasta and white rice are refined through a milling process that strips off the bran layer to give them a finer texture. After that process, these foods are little more than carbohydrates that your body digests quickly and easily.
The main problem with white rice, bread, pasta and potatoes is that they trigger a cycle of food craving. After you eat them, they release a sudden spike of sugar in your bloodstream. Your body responds to that extra sugar by releasing insulin. Insulin is a hormone your pancreas makes that allows sugar to enter your cells, lowering the amount of sugar in your blood.