Why Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain and Fats Don’t
Disclaimer: The information below is not the Proper Scientific Version. It’s the version, while based on solid research and facts, that makes sense to most of us and lets us understand what we’re doing when we eat certain foods. If you want a hard scientific explanation, visit a reputable medical website and read until you have a headache. :D
High blood sugar is dangerous. Let’s just start with that fact. High blood sugar can cause erectile dysfunction, damage our nerves, damage our blood vessels, destroy our eyesight, damage heart, kidneys and other organs, and in short order (a matter of hours) lead to coma and death.
For practical purposes in regard to health: carbohydrates = sugar
Some of you will be screaming all sorts of things at the screen right now, grumbling about glycemic indexes, and "healthy sugars", whole grain whatnots, and natural this or that. Yeah, well…. eat enough of this stuff and whether it’s pleasant to accept or not, your blood is full of sugar all the time. We can hunt down excuses all day, or we can wake up and smell the donuts.
If you’ve not read the page here called The Sugar We Really Eat, go do that now. You need to understand how much sugar you really eat in a day. North Americans are processing 75 teaspoons to 160 teaspoons of sugar per day, every day, from foods they don’t even think of as sweet. Read that sentence again, you need to know that one.
But you say, we Need carbs! Yes, we do. We need around 6-8 teaspoons of sugar daily (or 30-40 total carbs) to function optimally (including regular exercise). More than that must be dealt with or coma and death awaits us.
So, our bodies - being fine and awesome things - do the best they can with all that excess and are fabulous (for a while) at keeping us alive and even healthy (for a while). In simple terms here’s what happens:
We eat a meal containing more than the 10 or so carbohydrates per meal (that will become the 2 teaspoons of sugar) that keeps us functioning and energetic until our next meal and our body must deal with all the sugar above that to avoid damage and/or death.
We can use blood sugar for fuel to keep our hearts beating and body processes functioning, or we can use fats for fuel. (Remember, all that stored fat we’re trying to lose is just our bodies way to storing up energy to keep up running. We are supposed to use it, not pack it on and carry it around all day.) Since the body wants to get our blood sugar back into safe zones asap, the first thing it does is dump insulin into our blood stream and insulin does a lot of things fast.... but one thing it does is lock up our fat to keep it out of reach. The body will force us into using up the sugar first and, just like our gas gage goes down as we drive our cars, our blood sugar will go down as it’s used up for energy. But most times we don’t get it down far enough before the next meal comes along and and we eat even more carbs. So our bodies came up with a fall back plan to keep us from killing ourselves.
When the blood sugar isn’t dropping fast or far enough our brilliant bods snatch that stuff out of our blood and processes the blazes out of it. The end result of that processing is excess blood sugar being turned into fat! No problem! Fat is easy to handle. Tuck into our liver, add bits and bobs to our hips, and pile it on our stomachs. No problem at all.
Our brilliant bodies will make us exactly as fat as we need to be to stay alive! Awesome yes? :D
Notice some things here:
Carbohydrates are carbohydrates are carbohydrates. An organic banana will raise your blood sugar as much as a non-organic one. Whole grain breads usually have more carbs than the far-less-nutritious-and fiber-lacking white stuff. And organic raw honey is still just sugar. Yes, we need some carbs. But far, far less than most of us eat every day. The smart way to eat is to get as much nutrition per carb as possible.
We need fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. We cannot live on protein alone! Get your carbs from the best source of these essential nutrients: vegetables. Fruit is nice (and sugary), but fruit is not *required* to live a healthy, happy, and thinner life. For every fruit with nice nutrition in it you’ll find veggies with those same nutrients and far less sugar.
And eat more fat. Remember, fat (when carbs are low) gets used as energy. Do you want a brain that wakes up and stays that way all day? Do you want to skip that mid-afternoon drop that makes us grab a sugar/carb filled snack (like a “healthy” granola bar)? Eat more fat! An enjoy your day. :D
NOTE: "healthy fats" are pretty much anything not messed up by humans!
Olive oils, nut oils, butter, coconut and palm oils, high fat cheeses, full fat cream, eggs, nuts, the fat on your steak, the skin on your chicken - these are the fats humankind developed on and thrived on for millennial. Our brains love this stuff and these are natural energy!
Whether you believe we evolved on these foods into becoming the top of the food chain, or you believe God gave us these foods... think about it... in both cases these have been our natural foods throughout human history! Enjoy them. :D
Avoid trans-fats, any margarine, hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or "modified" fats. Avoid corn, canola, and "vegetable" oils (all genetically modified and doing some strange and rather unpleasant things to us) etc. Peanut oil is rapidly becoming part of this group too.
Understand that fats in processed foods have been heated and processed to heck and back - even if they went into the product in a healthy state (as shown on a label), the odds they are still healthy aren't great.