None of us wants to be fat. In fact, for many of us, we have been told over the last 4 decades, fat is bad.
It is instinctively logical to say ‘you are what you eat’: if you eat loads of fat, then the fat flows into your system and grow on your hips or lining your arteries. No fat in, and no fat on.
But what is fat?
Firstly, there is fat we eat. In this discussion, I am specifically referring dietary saturated fat (e.g., beef, pork, dairy, eggs, and tropical oils).
Then, there is fat inside our body, fatty tissues.
As a result of this unremitting message from nutrition policy makers, many of us are led to simply believe dietary saturated fat is either toxic or will at least cause wide-spread bodily damage. This sound-bite is widely used to deter people from eating foods containing fats and cholesterol.
Let’s face it, we now have a generation ingrained with a deep fear of fat (along with calories). So naturally, people seek out foods low in fat and higher in carbohydrate.
Who doesn’t want to be healthy?
So we replace steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk or orange juice. Salad dressings are conveniently fat-free, and so are your sweet protein bars. In the most surprising and disheartening way, instead of becoming healthier, our generation is getting fatter and sicker.
The matter of fact is that humans were never designed to eat such high quantity of carbs and our ancestors in the palaeolithic era were only able to consume carbohydrates that were available seasonally.
We as a society have been following a deceptive food pyramid. The bad fat sound-bite is tragically simplistic and flawed. And many of us are paying the price for it.
I know you are reading this and thinking (or maybe laughing), surely the “authorities” already “know” the answer.
This is a long and fascinating story. A good place to start is to read The sugar conspiracy and a truly remarkable book ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ by the investigative journalist Gary Taubes. Frankly knowing the history of it will surely get you riled up as it did to me.
For now, if this is the first time you have read anything suggesting the nutritional advice on which we have relied for 40 years is profoundly flawed, stay with me and let’s get some healthy dosage of skepticism in the discussion.
Here are the facts.
Two generations of researchers have tried to prove that eating saturated fat causes heart disease and failed. Concurrently, repeated attempts to establish a correlation between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol also failed.
In fact, some of these studies show just the opposite – an inverse association between dietary saturated fat intakes and atherosclerosis or stroke. These studies, however, indicate that one’s risk for a coronary event increases when dietary saturated fat is reduced and replaced by carbohydrate.
So here is how your body actually works.
When you eat high carbs, refined carbohydrates break down at speed into glucose in the blood, prompting the pancreas to produce insulin (the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar).
When insulin levels rise, the fat tissue gets a signal to suck the energy out of the blood and to stop releasing it. In other words, as long as your insulin levels are high, saturated fat tends to be stored rather than burned as fuel.
This is also when insulin stays high for unnaturally long, a person gains weight, gets hungrier, and feels fatigued.
The culprit then is clearly not dietary saturated fat per se, but rather a consumption of more carbohydrate than an individual’s body can efficiently manage.
Then when you get hungry and fatigue, as people are persuaded and pressured to eat a “healthy” low-fat, high fibre diet, you turn to more carbs, then you get fat, or getting fatter.
WOW… That’s a huge shift in paradigm because a lot of people don’t realise this and believe saturated fat causes heart disease.
The food that correlates most closely with deaths from heart disease is not saturated fat, but sugar.
I strongly urge you to check out Sugar: The Bitter Truth, presented by Robert Lustig, a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. This 2009 90-minute talk has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Dr Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.
Take home message:
Sugar is BAD.
And you can quit sugar.
Read more on the sugar and metabolic damage here.