Saturday, April 6, 2013

Exploring Weight Gain: is fat or sugar to blame?

For many decades now there has been a widely held and accepted belief that over consumption of fat is what leads to weight gain.  Thus the proliferation of low-fat EVERYTHING, everywhere you look.  Yes, even I used to make brownies with applesauce instead of butter!  However, there has always been a counter culture to this, a belief held in the traditional foods community:  good fat does not make you fat, in fact it can make you fit!  This counter culture movement has been gaining more and more followers in recent years (including myself) and the beautiful thing is that scientific studies are now starting to catch up with what we've held to for years:  refined sugars and carbs, not fat, are some of the main culprits in our obesity epidemic.

I was having the "fat doesn't make you fat, sugar does" discussion with someone recently, and so I decided to try to cull some of the information from the internet that back up my argument with some facts.  I wanted to share this with as many people as possible, so I collected these links here for you to study and evaluate yourself.

How Blood Sugar Levels Affect Weight Loss

4 Ways Sugar Makes You Fat

Eat Fat To Lose Weight

Whole Milk and Weight Loss

Good Fat, Bad Fat (video)

I am sure there is more info out there (such as studies that have shown that nonfat milk drinkers weigh more, studies showing people lose weight faster on high fat/low carb diets vs. low fat diets, etc.) but I think that is a good sampling for you, for now!  You could spend a long time researching all of this, but you can begin by shaking out some of the set beliefs about fat you may have accepted because it seemed simple (fat=fat), and to realize that our bodies are much more complex than that!

It seems to me that to eat foods in their "closest to natural" state (closest to how they were created) is what is most healthy.  This is why it makes sense to me that processed sugars, fats (vegetable oils), and other such foods will negatively affect our bodies (we weren't designed to handle them), while "real" food, such as whole fat dairy, eggs, meats, and natural oils/fats can benefit our bodies.

Let me conclude with some personal examples:

Example 1:  I was 19 years old & I began to read books about how physically damaging sugar is.  I decided to completely eliminate ALL processed sugar.  I mean no ketchup (read the label), no bread with sugar in it, NO sugar at all.  I would eat fruits though.  At this time I was about 10 lbs. overweight.  Do you know that when I stopped eating all sugars, but ate as much as I wanted of other foods, that the excess weight just fell of me?  (Granted, at age 19 our metabolisms are a lot easier to motivate, but let me continue.)

Example 2:  About 3 years ago the fitness center at our office conducted a "Fitness Challenge" for several weeks.  At this stage in life I had already started eating a lot of traditional and whole fat, organic foods.  But at the beginning of this challenge I changed two things:  I started exercising regularly AND I started adding several tablespoons of coconut oil to my daily routine.  Do you know that when the challenge ended I ended up being the female who reduced her BMI/body fat by the highest percentage?  It is not just about exercise- a lot of people were exercising.  Research coconut oil and you will see why I give that oil a lot of credit for that!

Example 3:  In the last month or so I have gotten lax in my daily habits and have been regularly "indulging" in refined sugars: candies, pastries, beverages, etc.  I have always eaten plenty of fat in my diet: butter, whole fat yogurt, meats, and so on.  But do you know what has happened in the last month?  I have gotten "fluffy" around my middle.  I have added extra weight and it is all around my tummy.  The only change I can attribute this to?  Sugar.  (Boooo!)

I am recommitting myself to eliminating refined sugar as much as possible from my diet, as well as my family's (as much as they will let me).  This is not just about weight, sugar also affects our moods, energy, and so much more!  I am ready to start feeling good again!


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