The Great Debate: Fat vs Sugar


by Matt Weik

Once upon a time people who roamed the earth would eat food to sustain energy and to survive. They didn’t have the luxury of half-gallons of ice cream, bags of potato chips, French fries, and beer. But all those things taste great, right? True. But our mentality has shifted from the days of survival to the days of comfort. American’s sit down and eat to fulfill an emotional need. At gatherings people stand around a bunch of food that most people probably aren’t hungry for and they eat anyway to be social. This is one of the many reasons why such a large percentage of American’s are overweight or obese.

Counting calories is one way to make sure you hit your macros and dietary needs for the day. People are thumbing around on their smart phones in search for their latest and greatest calorie counting fitness apps. These apps, though, seem to be a necessary evil these days. But there seems to be a shift in what people are paying the most attention to. The days of looking at nutritional labels to figure out how many calories are in each serving or how much fat it contains is now showing through studies that more people are focusing on the sugar content. Sugar has become the biggest villain when in search for healthy foods and alternatives to items you’d like healthier options for.

We’ve all seen the trends over the years. Everything from fat-free, to low-fat, to no trans fat, and the likes. With recent research showing that higher fat diets might be your best bet, more people are skipping over the nutrition panel and going right to the sugar content. High in sugar? Back on the shelf it goes.

While a balanced diet is key and “everything in moderation” as they say, more people are putting down the sugary products and instead reaching for a product higher in fat content. Snacks are now consisting of things such as nuts and string cheese. These types of foods also help improve satiety which lowers the rate of binge eating and over-consumption.

Sugar has been shown to cause several negative effects in the body. One of the biggest concerns these days is the fact that cancer cells feed off of sugar. If you are at a higher risk of cancer due to environmental factors or family history, it is advised to maintain a low-sugar diet. Consulting with your family doctor or licensed nutritionist to help you with your diet would be a good ideal to lower your risk factors.

Negative effects of sugar:

• Can increase triglycerides
• Can lower HDL levels
• Can increase the risk of heart disease
• Can cause insulin resistance
• Can lead to fatty liver
• Can be bad for your teeth
• Can put you at a higher risk for cancer
• Can decrease memory and cognitive health

Ketogenic diets seem to be the craze these days with people swapping out carbs for fats. With utilizing a low-carbohydrate diet and increasing your fat and protein intake, you stay full longer. This has been shown to lower an individuals overall daily caloric intake—which can lead to weight loss.

Benefits of fats:

• Can lower triglycerides
• Can improve satiety
• Can increase HDL levels
• Can decrease blood pressure
• Can improve insulin sensitivity
• Can improve heart health
• Can help treat Metabolic Syndrome
• Can help regulate hormones in the body
• Can help overall brain health
• Can help improve skin health
• Can help improve eye health
• Can boost your immune system
• Can be used as an energy source
• Can help the body use vitamins
• Can help protect organs
• Can help decrease inflammation

Foods high in healthy fats:

• Avocados
• Fish
• Bacon
• Coconuts/Coconut Oil
• Olives
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Sunflower/Safflower Oil
• Nuts
• Chia Seeds
• Butter
• Milk
• Cheese
• Yogurt
• Whole Eggs
• Dark Chocolate

So rather than passing on the bacon and egg yokes, embrace them and utilize them in your diet to not only hit your daily macros, but to improve your overall health. If you aren’t getting enough fats in your diet, you can easily supplement with an Omega-3 Fish Oil product. These can be purchased over the counter at your location nutrition store or online. It is ideal to speak to your family doctor to get the proper dosage for your body and to ensure it will not affect any medication you might be on. If you exercise regularly having a diet high in fat is especially important for gaining lean muscle mass as fat help regulate hormones which can help elevate growth hormone levels and aid you in lean muscle mass gains as well as help speed up recovery time.

With all the benefits that come along with a higher fat intake, it’s obvious why so many people are saying goodbye to low-fat diets and are now kicking carbs to the curb. While this diet might not be the “magic pill” so to speak in regards to the best diet out there, it has been shown through several studies to be extremely effective in improving health and helping with weight loss. More research is constantly being done on high-fat/ketogenic diets so expect to see more great benefits from utilizing this system in the very near future. Fat is no longer a curse word. Learn to embrace it and the health benefits that come along with it.