Are we 'Getting' - FAT?
As a nation we are in a pretty bad way at the moment, health wise. We know that, and we now know that it's probably our high carb / high sugar diets which are causing a lot of our problems.
For years we've been trained to avoid saturated fats (previously thought to cause heart disease) and to be very cautious with fats in general - the thinking being that because fats are so high in calories when compared with carbs and protein, they'll cause weight gain due to excess caloric consumption. This isn't at all true, but I still chat to many people every weekend from behind the goodMix market stall, who are trying to lose weight (particularly women in the 45- 65yr age group) that completely freak out when they look at the high fat content (almost 40%) of the 'healthy breakfast' they've just tasted and are considering purchasing! There's no way they'd consider this bag of 'mostly fat' as a healthy option, especially for their goal of losing weight.
Our Trusty Food Pyramid Needs to Be Up-ended
This is where a major part of the problem lies - our avoidance of fat (and it's high caloric load) causes us to look for our calories elsewhere, from other food sources - like carbohydrates
, which our trusty food pyramid tells us to eat loads of (remember from school the bread, pasta, grains and rice on the bottom?). The problem with carbs is that when eaten, they trigger the release of insulin from our pancreas. Insulin allows the glucose in our bloodstream (carbs are all broken down into glucose) to be used as a fuel, and any excess to be stored away for later (it stimulates the accumulation of fat, and also prevents stored fat from being used as a fuel source). Our modern diet being the way it is, means that our body has a constant and excessive supply of blood glucose, always causing insulin to be secreted and fat to be stored rather than burnt
. The pyramid needs to be up-ended, which is already starting to happen in some parts of the world.
Fat May in Fact be the Best Food for Fat Loss
Sweden (ironically, the birthplace of the first food pyramid in 1974) has now officially become the first western nation to adopt a higher-fat, low carb diet as its recommended dietary guideline. The switch has followed the review and publication of over 16,000 studies which revealed what many people have 'known' or at least felt for a long time - fat consumption is not the reason for body fat accumulation, and saturated fat consumption is not what's causing heart disease. The potential benefits of changing from low fat to low carb eating (carbs being 20-40% of total calories) include: reduced body weight, lowering of blood sugar and improving good cholesterol). Fat may in fact be the best food for fat loss, as it fills us up, keeps us satisfied longer and decreases hunger and carb cravings.
It is interesting to note that in Sweden, (who as a nation have tended to eat a higher fat diet anyway), the rate of obesity is only 12% compared to around 30% of us Aussies.
Loads of research and great reading to do on this subject, it's out there if you're interested - and don't be too disheartened if you never quite learnt your food pyramid in school, chances are it's just about to be turned upside down. Pass the butter, I say! (But hold the bread and potatoes!).