Carbs or Fat - What Really Makes Us Gain Weight?
If you have a weight loss goal, it doesn’t take long before all the diet talk out there starts to contradict itself. Diets like Keto or Carb Cycling warn that eating carbs will make you gain weight, while a dozen low-fat (or no-fat) diets claim that it isn’t the pasta causing the trouble, but those pesky fats. So, which is it? Keep reading to get the skinny on how your body uses carbs and fats.
Our concerns with carbs:
There are three types of carbohydrates that occur in food: sugar, starch and fiber. We all know it’s best to lower our sugar intake, and you’ve probably heard claims that starchy foods are bad, too. But what about starchy fruits and vegetables?
While some people try to cut out carbs completely, others try to cut out “refined carbs”—highly processed sources of carbs that often have their fiber content removed or changed.
Examples of whole carbs would be veggies, potatoes, whole grains or oats.
Examples of refined carbs would be pastries, white bread and sugar-sweetened beverages.
While most nutritionists agree that carbs have been unfairly demonized, most also agree that we should at least stay away from refined carbs when we can. Refined carbs tend to cause spikes in blood sugar levels which can lead to an energy crash, and they’re usually lacking in nutrient content – making them so-called “empty calories.”
The deal with fats:
Low-fat diets are less popular than they were ten years ago, and that’s because science tells us that cutting out fats won’t necessarily help you lose weight. Fat is a major source of energy that can help fuel your body through the day—although not all fats are created equal.
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats, also called “good fats” because they’re good for your health, include foods like avocados, seeds, olive oil, fish and nuts. These fats can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower blood pressure, and leave you feeling seriously satisfied.
Saturated fats like meat and dairy should be limited, since eating a lot of them can increase your risk of heart disease and increased blood cholesterol levels.
Trans fats, AKA artificial fats, are best left on the shelf. If you see “partially hydrogenated” on the ingredients lists, we recommend choosing another option. According to the American Heart Association, “Trans fats raise your bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lower your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Eating trans fats increases your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It’s also associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
So here’s what we know:
To put it simply, any food can cause weight gain if you eat enough of it. According to the National Health Service, “Whether your diet is high in fat or high in carbohydrates, if you frequently consume more energy than your body uses, you're likely to gain weight.”
What’s most important is eating food that makes your body feel good. Pay attention to how your body feels when you eat a carb-heavy or fat-fueled meal. All bodies are different, and your body may respond differently than a friend’s. For that reason, you’re best skipping the trendy diets and doing more of what makes your body feel great.