Eating fat doesn't make you fat but too much sugar can!
The theory that fat makes us fat has been around for decades, but as science has evolved we finally understand that fat doesn’t necessarily make us fat...if it is good fat and in the right amounts. Fat is vital to a healthy body.
We now understand that the overconsumption of sugar is often the main reason why people store excess weight. Sugar has a negative effect on hormones including insulin, thyroid, leptin, grehlin, cortisol, estrogen and yes, even testosterone.
So, decades ago when the fat makes you fat theory began consumers started avoiding fatty foods. The food industry had to come up with ideas to keep selling products that tasted good despite not having the delicious flavors usually accompanied by fatty ingredients. You see, fat equals flavor. When you take out the fat, you’ve got to replace it with something appealing. Manufacturers started adding sugar, and lots of it. Check out the nutrition label on fat-free foods and you’ll see tons of sugar listed.
We now know that this theory is flawed and that certain forms of naturally occurring dietary fat – such as those you might find in coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish – are actually good for you.
One important distinction: always go for fat from natural sources. Trans fats are created in a laboratory through a process called hydrogenation and should never be consumed. Trans fats are usually accompanied by the word “hydrogenated” on the ingredients list, and common sources include Crisco and margarine.
So what is the problem with too much sugar? First, sugar is void of nutrients and crowds out other nutrient-dense food that your body needs to thrive. When you start your day with a sugary cereal or blueberry muffins, you’ve missed the opportunity to eat, or what I like to call "crowd out" ( I use this practice with my clients), nutrient-dense meals like eggs or a plant-based smoothie.
Further, sugar does not fill you up, and actually encourages you to be hungrier an hour later. What's worse is that this cycle eventually numbs our appetite and causes us to forget what it feels like to actually be hungry (or should we say not be hungry). Fats do just the opposite. Eating healthy fat not only satiates your appetite, it contributes to healthy organs and glowing skin.
Finally, excess sugar consumption spikes your blood sugar out of the normal healthy range setting off a cascade of insulin ups and downs which can cause you to feel even more hungry, have mood swings, store excess fat, and lead to metabolic syndrome including diabetes and insulin resistance.
Sugar hides in mysterious places. Here are some of the biggest losers:
Ketchup Bread, even whole wheat Gluten-free snacks Canned soup Salad dressing Snack bars Energy drinks Protein bars Sweetened yogurt Peanut and other nut butters
How to reduce your sugar intake: 1. Drink more water, especially before snacking. Sugar cravings can be an indication of dehydration, so try a glass of purified water first to see if you’re really hungry. In general, aim for half of your body weight in ounces of purified water each day.
2. If you need to sweeten something, use a natural sweetener. When you are going to eat something sweet, use a natural sweetener that comes with some vitamins and minerals, like raw local honey, raw agave or maple syrup. Or try stevia. Always avoid artificial sweeteners.
3. Eat enough at mealtime. Combine healthy carbs, fats and proteins. If a meal leaves you hungry then you are more likely to reach for unhealthy foods an hour later.
4. ALWAYS read the label. You may be surprised where sugar is hiding. Look at labels, compare products, and go for whichever has fewer grams of sugar per serving.
As with anything, the key is all about balance....including mindfulness and moderation. Don't deprive yourself of enjoying an occasional treat. Just remember that occasional means once-in-awhile, and “treats” should still be made with quality ingredients and be just that ...a treat...not nourishment.
You'll feel a world of difference in your energy, and possibly in your sleep, skin glow, mood, aches and pains, and all kinds of other beneficial effects.