The debate (if you want to call it that) between if fat or carbohydrates making a person obese still to this day continues with recent studies now linking fats again with fat gain, whereas the past decade has been firmly on carbohydrates being the culprits. It is difficult to really throw your hat in the ring without being shot down by someone with a differing view on the subject; of course it could all be explained with simple calories in vs. calories out right?
Unfortunately whilst decreasing calories or increasing expenditure will in most probability cause weight loss it may not be sustainable, healthy or the weight lost may also include a good amount of muscle.
Therefore, actual sustainability across a mass population is more complex!
The issue with scientific studies is that often they are not read BUT the media outlets cherry pick what they want from a study to make a headline, such as “NEW STUDY FINDS THAT FAT MAKES YOU FAT”. It doesn’t mention that the study is done on rats and not humans and that it is done in a way in which they increase overall calorie intake, or the numbers are so small that it is not significant, etc.
In reality only a few “pure” factors cause us to gain weight and fat, these being:
1. Lack of physical activity
2. Calorie surplus
3. A calorie surplus of the wrong foods
In general, the above three are what make us bigger, we will look closer at no.3 soon as this is where we look at the fat vs. carbs subject. Whilst the above three aspects are the most important they can be influenced by the following aspects which can make gaining fat a lot easier and losing it a lot harder:
1. Hormonal disorders
2. Genetic disorders
3. General genetic influence
4. Psychological problems
5. Environmental pressures
6. Injury and Illness (preventing physical activity)
We have gone off the subject slightly, but it is important to highlight the actual causes of weight gain before delving into this subject of fats and carbs. Now before we talk about fats and carbs it is worth noting that carbs can come in many forms. Many split these as simple or complex but then it could be said as fibre, sugar and starch. The chemical make-ups differ again with many forms of sugars like glucose, lactose, maltose, galactose, fructose, sucrose, etc. The same can be said for fats being split into trans, saturated and unsaturated fats with these again splitting further into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Therefore, by saying fat causes fat in a headline may make the majority believe that all fats are bad and again if they state carbohydrates cause fat gain people may forgo vital fibre intake.
As already mentioned, a surplus of calories will cause weight gain and therefore reducing this will cause a weight loss, simple mathematics.
However, the source of the calorie surplus may actually be just as important and this is where the question of fats and carbohydrates comes in. In general, however, when carbohydrates are spoken about it is referring to sugars, and fats often mean saturated fats.
Muhdo has been conducting its own research in the area and will soon be publishing a paper outlining their results. Preliminary findings show that actually maintaining the same calorie intake but increasing unsaturated fat intake and decreasing sugar intake from all sources causes weight loss in some, even if expenditure remains the same. The people with this finding may have correlating gene variants and this is where the research is focussed upon.
In general, the argument is not if carbs or fats cause weight gain, but actually what diet should be applied to a person who doesn’t count calories, concentrates on the gym or cares to understand the science of nutrition. A diet/lifestyle that is easily maintained with little hardships but allows for a healthy weight to be maintained is crucial to the national control of obesity.
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