If you think back to the 80’s and 90’s – low fat and low calorie diets were all the rage. “Fat” was thought to be enemy number one. Keep the calories and the fat low and you’re good. Well….turns out that’s not really where the success lies.
Fast forward to 2018 and we now know that fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does. This has been a tough message to understand and receive for most, especially those of us that were kids, teenagers or young adults during the 80’s or 90’s. We have had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that soda, oatmeal cream pies, fruity pebbles and pop tarts were now frowned upon.
There are good fats and bad fats and it’s important to know the difference between the two and make sure that you’re eating the good ones. In addition to that, we continue to find out more and more how sugar affects our bodies.
GOOD FAT VS. BAD FAT
The truth is, we need fats. Fat is actually necessary for you to lose weight. It all depends on the source of food you are getting it from! The fats to avoid are trans fats and saturated fats. These fats are often found in in packaged foods such as french fries, margarine, cake mixes, and Ramen noodles. These fats will raise LDL (bad cholesterol) and lower your HDL (good cholesterol). Unsaturated fats such as omega-3, omega-6, oleic acid, and linoleic acids are the good fats! Making these part of your diet can actually help you lose weight! The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K all require fat so that they can be absorbed into the body. Without fat, you will not be getting any of these essential vitamins. Foods high in unsaturated fats such as avocado, can actually keep you feeling full longer because they can take a longer time to digest.
WHAT SUGAR DOES TO YOUR BODY
Your brain suffers - Fructose—the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit and is a component, with glucose, of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and table sugar—lights up the brain's reward center, says pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig, MD, of UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in San Francisco. Over time, a diet packed with fructose (especially from HFCS) can make it tougher to learn and remember, animal research suggests.
You want to eat more - By revving the brain's reward and appetite center, fructose can interfere with feelings of satiety, research reveals. Translation: That extra cookie may not curb your craving after all.
Skin ages faster - Too much sugar can hinder the repair of collagen, the buzzed-about protein that keeps skin looking plump, studies show. A steady diet of sugary treats can result in reduced elasticity and premature wrinkles.
Excess sugar is stored as fat - Pause before you slip that additional packet into your a.m. coffee. The liver has an innate capacity to metabolize sugar and use it for energy—but only to an extent, explains Dr. Lustig. The fructose that's left over is converted into fat in the liver, raising your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Your cells pay a steep price - Fructose accelerates the usual oxidation process in our cells, says Dr. Lustig. The result? Proteins, tissues, and organs can become damaged, and our risk of health conditions, including liver disease, kidney failure, and cataracts, rises.
You get hooked - Eating sugar leads to the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes us like something and want more of it. "As dopamine receptor neurons get overstimulated, the number of receptors to bind to decreases, so you'll need a bigger hit of dopamine to get the same rush," explains Dr. Lustig.
Stress eating begets stress - Sweets can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the near term, research shows. But continue OD'ing on sugary refined carbs and your risk of insulin resistance, which stresses the body from the inside, goes up. To find your calm, sweat instead: "Exercise is the best treatment for stress. It makes you feel good and reduces cortisol," says Dr. Lustig.
Energy surges then bottoms out - Refined carbs, like those in white bread and pasta, quickly cause a rise in glucose in the bloodstream, so you might feel extra energized—for a while. But this short-term fix can actually leave you more sluggish later on (when you eventually crash). Instead, opt for protein-rich snacks between meals, such as Greek yogurt with fresh berries or fresh veggies and hummus. They help stabilize blood sugar and keep you going longer.