02 May 2014

The Sugar vs. Fat Debate


Big in the news at the moment is about sugar and how we all eat more of it than necessary without actually realising how much we are eating. Everything we eat whether it be fruit, pasta, tomato sauce, bread etc. they all contain sugar. Tables have therefore turned, as it is now not about the low fat options, it is about how much sugar is in the foods we are eating.  Back to the 70’s or 80’s when fat was looked upon as being the demon to why we were putting on more weight, they cut down on fat in foods but to keep the flavour they had to put in more sugar/sugar substitutes and sodium.  So the best thing here is NOT to buy ‘low fat’ or ‘fat free’ foods and opt for the full ‘normal’ foods but just reduce the portion size/frequency that you are eating.  Look at the % of sugar or sugar substitutes – aspartame (that’s a whole other debate on the health issues associated with aspartame!)  and see where they are in the list of ingredients. If they are at the top, there is more sugar in the product. If there is 22g of sugars per 100g of a food then this is high, if there is 5g per 100g this is low. So ideally, try not to buy foods with more than 15g sugar per 100g!!
There are diets galore ranging from Weight Watchers & Slimming World, Atkins, LighterLife and most focus still on the fat %.  How many of you actually look at the ingredients in foods and look at the % of sugar in 100g of the food?  If you don’t, then you need to start doing this. Basically, lots of trials have been done and are still being done about cutting back on sugars as most foods have natural sugars in them anyway, so why do we need all this extra sugar?  You can lose more weight by buying full fat foods, cooking fresh ingredients, eating lots of healthy greens & vegetables (less of the potatoes and more of the sweet potato) and just making your portion size a bit smaller.  As I’ve said before, you need your healthy fats – coconut, olive oil, nuts, avocados but it’s about moderation and not adding too much mayo/salad dressing/balsamic vinegar/oyster sauce/ketchup and other high sugar foods to add taste. Start using more herbs, garlic, ginger, onion, lemon, dill, smoked paprika etc to add more flavour to your foods.

Finally, you need to understand about carbohydrates and why this is in the sugar vs fat debate!  Essentially, all foods have natural sugars in them which are carbohydrates,  which then turn to sugar in the body – glycogen. However, our body can only store a set amount of glycogen in the liver and muscles.  So I always compare it to petrol as we need them to give us energy. However, if we eat too many carbs and we aren’t exercising then once the stores/petrol tank are full the rest will overflow & turn straight to sugars in our body.  If  exercising however, the muscles are using up our glycogen levels quicker. There are the complex carbs – mainly vegetables; greens, mushrooms, tomatoes, salads which have a high fibre content & are nutritious so they slow down the rate sugars enter the bloodstream.  You also have the rices, pastas, wheat, bread & potatoes which have a higher glycemic index hence they turn to sugars quicker.  Simple carbohydrates are the sugar, cakes, biscuits, chips, crisps, breakfast cereals, refined flour etc. These have lots of ready available sugar & little or no fiber or nutrients. Same with energy drinks – full of glucose and quick acting sugars, but if you aren’t really exercising hard water is better for you.

This subject can go on and on, but please do ask anything if you are unsure of maybe you disagree and find you put too much weight on if you don’t eat low fat foods! Chat about it and I will try and respond! Also if you want substitutes or ideas to swap certain high sugar foods to, just ask.

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