So the question today is “What contributes to weight gain more? Sugar or Fat?”. Recently I’ve wrote a lot on fats and the effect it has on the digestive system and why it plays a major role in gut function but today I want to look at the effects it has on weight gain and why it’s so hard for you to lose those extra pounds.
Should sugar come with a warning label?
I recently watched a TED talk by Robert H. Lustig is an American pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco and he is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. He went into details about how is ‘Sugar is the Elephant in the Kitchen’ and that it should be listed as a class A drug. It is known that sugar is more addictive than cocaine and can lead to:
Sugar is the most abused edible substance humans consume, we give it to our loved ones and our pets, and worst part is that we feed it to them in high doses, and most of the time we don’t even know we do it.
We don’t need sugar to make energy in our bodies. Go back to the Paleolithic era, when we were hunter-gatherers (before farming), we would mostly eat meat and leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and insects and often partake in long intense activities. Depending on the area, fruit (high in sugar) was rare to come by as it was seasonal and therefore if fruit was found, we would eat to stock up on the sugars which stored as fat and that will keep us going during the hard times. Generally we had a well balanced diet and active lifestyle. If we compare ‘us then’ to ‘us now’ we drive our car to the supermarket, sit at an office desk most of the day, snack on sugar and are glued to a screen. Generally we’re pretty unbalanced.
The human body does not require sugars to function, proteins and complex carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, starchy vegetables, beans, legumes and seeds are metabolised by the body into glucose which gives us energy.
There are many types of sugars such as:
- sucrose (table sugar)
- lactose (found in milk)
- fructose (found in fruit)
All of this sugar, if consumed in high quantities leads to weight gain and other health problems. The simple fact is, if you eat more sugar than your body requires it will store it as fat.
But I thought Fruit contained good Sugar?
Obviously a banana is healthier than a Mars bar. They both contain sugar which means they both provide energy, but at different rates. When you eat sugar your body releases insulin a hormone that metabolises the carbohydrates into glucose which is rushed to the muscles within the body ready to be used. If the energy is not used (aka. your a couch potato) it will be stored as fat. However when you eat a Mars Bar your body will spike insulin levels super fast this will flood your body with glucose and in turn amount to high blood sugar levels. Once your body reaches it’s energy spike it will drastically drop resulting in fatigue and cravings for more sugar and as a result weight gain, this effect of sugar can also lead to type 2 diabetes.
With regards to eating a banana, yes it has sugar (fructose) but it also contains countless vitamins and minerals. The sugar from fruit is absorbed into the bloodstream at a much slower rate, giving you long lasting energy and less likely to be stored as fat. You also won’t get fatigue slumps or more cravings for sugar.
Fat Food = Fat Me…Right?
Fat protects the body from disease and promotes optimal health. They help your body to absorb vitamin A, D and E which are curtail to your health. Your fat intake should be 25-30% of your recommended calorie intake. This is not an excuse to go wild in McDonalds. I’m talking good nourishing fats not trans or hydrogenated fats! Fats such as both poly/monounsaturated fats are key to weight management. Download my Fat Cheat sheet to help get you started:
Monounsaturated fats help beat belly fat and lower your LDL (low density lipoproteins) and raise your HDL (high density lipoproteins) in turn reducing cholesterol levels and the build up of plague in the arteries.
Polyunsaturated Fats also lower LDL and contain omega 3 & 6. These boost brain function and promote healthy glowing skin all year round.
I’ve heard Coconut oil is amazing for you, but it’s a saturated fat. Does that make it “bad”?
Nope! Coconut oil is not bad for you and yes it is very good for you. I’ll be honest with you one of the most expensive products on my grocery list is coconut oil (which isn’t too hard considering most of my groceries are vegetables). I buy the highest grade unrefined coconut oil I can get my hands on, why? because I use it with pretty much everything. I put it in my soups, my morning oatmeal, my face, my hair and my coffee. You may be thinking wow, Kate that a lot of coconut oil, and well yes it is, but I still only weight 42kg (at 151cm). Unrefined Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides. In 2008 the ‘American Journal of Nutrition’ found that oils rich in medium-chain triglycerides can actually help body fat levels and promote weight loss compared to olive oil. The truth is I don’t cook with vegetable oil because most of the fatty acids become unstable at high temperatures which makes it harder for the body to brake down and can become harmful to the body. Unrefined coconut oil can withstand temperatures of up to 320 degrees Fahrenheit making it a safer choice when cooking. It also give a creamy texture and curbs cravings.
Download my Fat Cheat sheet to help get you started:
Sugar has proven to be the loser and that there is no necessity to consuming sugar as we can get most of our energy from proteins and complex carbohydrates and fats can actually help us to manage our weight and fight disease. If your looking to lose weight cut down on your sugar and make sure your incorporating at least 25-30% of your calorie intake from good fats. I recommend ‘I Quit Sugar’ by Sarah Wilson:
Live balanced and be happy!