I saw this infographic on Pinterest the other day, which says fat doesn’t make you fat – carbs are what makes you fat, and this is the reason for the obesity epidemic.
Firstly, blaming the obesity epidemic on one nutrient is oversimplifying the matter. Over the past 20-30 years our food environment has changed dramatically. Refined, sugary carbohydrates and high fat foods are cheap and very available. Next time you go out, count how many opportunities there are to buy cheap, unhealthy food. We live in a globalised food market where it’s cheap and easy to buy calories. We’re also bombaded by food marketing – and we’re buying this food. Secondly, we are moving less. These are the two major reasons why as a population levels of overweight and obesity have risen dramatically. It’s not simply carbohydrates.
So what about individuals? Do carbs make individuals gain weight while fat doesn’t? While the infographic does have some factual information in it, it is oversimplified the situation. Here’s the facts:
Carbohydrates do make us release insulin which is an anabolic hormone, meaning it signals storage. BUT just because we are releasing insulin, it doesn’t mean that the food we are eating will be stored as fat. Insulin takes sugars from the blood stream to our bodies cells where it fuels the muscles and the brain. It’s a fact that muscles and our brain prefer to use glucose for energy which is made from the breakdown in carbohydrates.
If we overeat ANY nutrient, whether it’s carbohydrate, fat or protein – you will gain weight. Protein uses more energy to get broken down, so it has a slight advantage over the other two nutrients, but still, if you eat too much of anything, you will gain weight. For certain people, lower carbohydrate diets are useful. This includes people with insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance, and people wanting to lose weight as protein keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
BUT no need to dramatically cut carbs completely from your diet.