It is very obvious many food misconceptions exist, all around us, we have all manner of stories concerning certain types of food. Some of these stories are even trans-generational and we are tempted to believe them as true since many of us grew up to meet them. Together in this series, we are going to review all the food misconceptions and find scientifically based answers.
Let’s do this together
Will eating fatty foods make you fat?
There is a common belief that when we eat fatty foods it will cause us to gain more weight. Is this actually true or is it a misconception?
Before we go ahead to debunk this, let’s see some working definitions:
1. Calorie– Calorie is any of several approximately equal units of heat required to raise the temperature of water by 1°C. Simply put it is energy produced by any substance and in this case, food.
2. Carbohydrate– Popularly called carbs are a large group of organic compounds occurring in foods and living tissues and they include sugars, starch, and fibres. They are a source of energy. One gram (1g) of carbohydrate produces about four (4) calories of energy.
- Fats– They are a naturally occurring group of compounds which are solid at room temperature and they include butter and oils. They protect and cushion our vital organs, act as insulators in the body, and are also a source of energy. One gram (1g) of fat produces nine(9) calories of energy.
So in comparison to carbs, they have higher calories.
Shouldn’t we be more scared now?
Well, you see if you take this factor of higher calorie content into consideration alone, we might actually conclude that fat contributes to more weight gain than carbs. We have often been told that eating fat causes heart diseases and are responsible for making us fat and so we have come to think of fat as a great threat to our health. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. You see about 16% of our body is made up of fat while 70% is water and just 1% is carbs. According to Dr Richard K. Bernestain, the statement “Eating fats will make you fat is as scientifically logical as saying eating tomato will make you red“.
What then is the link between carbs and weight gain?
The body attempts to regulate glucose level by using a series of hormones called insulin and glucagon produced in the pancreas. Insulin lowers blood sugar levels while glucagon increases blood sugar levels. Excess glucose is stored in the liver or they are stored as fat around the body.
Without insulin, sugar remains in our blood and can’t be used by our cells for energy. The more the carbs we consume, the more insulin we need, and the higher our insulin level. Apart from regulating blood sugar, it also regulates fat metabolism. So the more insulin is produced, the more fat is stored.
According to recent research, when we consume carbs, it stimulates the part of the brain associated with craving, hunger and rewards which causes food cravings and which in turn causes people to over eat. Fat leads to satiation, that is it makes us feel full and it causes a slow (if any) rise in blood sugar because it requires little insulin.
Now before you go jumping that carbs are bad….let’s see the real culprit. Heard of “Empty calories” before? This guy right here is the main bad guy.
Empty calories are simple carbs that are derived from added sugar that have little or no nutritional value. Apart from the benefits of fats stated earlier, fat also adds natural flavour to foods. In a bid to eradicate fat from our diet, manufacturers had use artificial additives to replace the natural fat flavour. This led to the invent of sugar additives in our foods (and loads of it! if I might add). Some examples of empty calorie foods include pastries, cakes, soda, ice cream, in fact, a lot of processed and packaged foods.
It is important to always go for natural fats from natural sources as trans-fat are fat created in the laboratory. Examples of natural sources of fat are olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, butter, fatty fish, eggs, avocados, cheese, cream etc. An indicator to identify trans-fat on a label is to look out for the words “hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated” fat.
So….wanna shed off some weight? Ditch the empty calorie foods, cut general cab intake and up your fat intake!
Like we agreed at the beginning, let’s do this together, please share some food misconceptions you know, in the form of a question or contribution. We would look at some of the comments in the subsequent editions.
Always remember, you are what you eat!!!