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How A 30-Second Cracker Test Reveals How Much Carbs You Can Eat Per Day

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It may not be fair that a person can eat a lot of carbs and not gain any weight, but it turns out that there might be a genetic reason behind this.

The Cracker Test

A few years ago, Dr. Sharon Moalem developed a method for people to check if they need to limit their carbohydrates on a daily basis. Known as the cracker test, it is a 30-second self-check test that has become an internet sensation.

Dr. Xand van Tulleken is testing it out on BBC program called "The Truth About Carbs" that airs on June 6. The simple test only requires a plain cracker and a stopwatch to keep track of time.

To start, a person fills their mouth with as much saliva as possible. Then, the person should bite and chew the cracker. At this point, the person keeps chewing until they notice that the cracker begins to taste sweet. It is important for the person to take their time chewing and not to swallow the cracker immediately.

The person should keep track of the exact time that a change in taste was noted. The entire test should end after 30 seconds.

What Does The Cracker Test Mean?

The Cracker test sheds light on how people might be predisposed to metabolize carbs based on their genetic makeup. Within the saliva, there is an enzyme called amylase that breaks down carbs. Specifically, it breaks down starch molecules and turns them into simple sugars.

If a cracker tastes sweet, that is because the amylase is breaking down the carbs. If a person noticed the taste change within 30 seconds, then that means that they are more likely to handle carbs because there is a high concentration of amylase in their mouths. These people could eat some carbs and not experience significant weight gain.

If it takes a person more than 30 seconds to recognize the sweet taste — or if they recognize no taste change at all — then that means that their bodies cannot break down carbs sufficiently. These people are more likely to gain weight when eating some cards.

American's Carb Problem

According to the CDC, over 36 percent of adults are overweight in the United States. Obesity could lead to heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Although carbs are not the only thing contributing to the obesity epidemic, it is part of it.

A 2015 report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that excessive consumption of sugary foods and carbs, not physical inactivity, is contributing to the obesity problem. 

"It's time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry's public relations machinery," the authors wrote. "Let's bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You can't outrun a bad diet."

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