Getting fat, burning fat and macronutrients …oh not all fats are equal

By: Quinton de Bruin

With the pace at which we live today, it can feel like the mind is a bit like a train station, thoughts coming in and leaving constantly. It is only a matter of time before some thoughts receive the Koru Club treatment and we give them the time of day, focus on them, study them and place those centre stage. Conversely, we have dismissed other thoughts, relying on those "in the know" to make the decisions for us because we are too busy with the big stuff! Doing this with the assumption that they will guide us to good choices. Unfortunately, many of us have let this happen with our food choices. I believe it is time to create some space front row in our minds for this information and take back the decision on what you will and won't eat based on it.

All foods, from parsnips to meatloaf, are made up of macronutrients, micronutrients and water. Macronutrients are the only one that supplies the body with energy (measured in calories) and comprises of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
In short, a diet built around protein and fats is slimming while a carbohydrate based one is fattening. An important distinction Abel (our Fat Burning Man) makes here is that it is not fat that makes you store body fat but rather that it is sugar and starch that does.

In the book (and again quotes from the book will appear in italic type below) Abel states, "All carbohydrates break down in your system into glucose (a simple form of sugar), producing a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar is elevated, your pancreas secretes insulin to clear glucose (which is toxic in excess) from your blood and store it in liver, muscle, or fat cells. But your body is built to handle only a relatively small amount of carbohydrates at a time. Once the limited liver and muscle glycogen cells are full – as they are nearly all the time in sedentary people – the remainder of the glucose is converted to and stored as fat."

Have you heard of Insulin Resistance Syndrome? Well it is apparently quite common. It can be observed in people who gain weight every year even though they have not changed their diet or level of exercise. It results from years of overconsumption of carbohydrates (good news is that this can be reversed!

Here is the cold, hard truth: if you are overweight, then you are probably insulin resistant already.

Your body's constant battle to regulate your skyrocketing blood sugar (the sugar high) with floods of insulin (the sugar crash) eventually causes your system to malfunction. Insulin essentially stops working and you require more of it to properly clear glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the pancreas pumps out more and more insulin which creates a constant state of elevated insulin levels in the blood (known as hyperinsulinemia) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This abundance of fat--‐storing insulin causes people to become fatter and fatter despite eating the same foods they have for years.

When discussing carbs, there is a fascinating comparison between the 350-600g of carbs (predominantly from grain foods and sugar) in the average diet today compared to what anthropologists estimate in our ancestors which was around 80grams which came from fruits vegetables.
A couple of common questions: Do you need carbs to survive? Yes, the brain requires a very small amount, in fact such a small amount, the carbs (more accurately the glucose) can be produced by the liver. It has the ability to transform 58% of the protein we eat into glucose.

Is eating carbs bad for you? They are not your enemy. Carbs consumed in moderation are essential for optimum bodily function and these amounts can be taken in from fruits and vegetables.

Well how much carbs should we eat then? In the region of 50-100 grams per day. This range can be achieved by consuming copious amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables but difficult to stay in when turning to starchy vegetables even in small amounts.

Proteins, meat particularly, have been seen as a "man's food". While it is true that men are designed with higher muscle mass and lower body fat, as a result we will consume more protein than women but it is essential for the health of women also.

The book goes on to talk about fats in detail but I will sum it up in saying that fats have been blamed for the world's problems and it is not the problem, it is the solution. It is important to state thought that not all fats are equal.

"For decades, Americans have been told that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol (found in butter, beef, and other animal fats) clogs arteries and causes heart disease. But here is the problem: no one has ever proven it. The justification for the anti-saturated fat propaganda is largely baseless, relying upon antiquated and flimsy data from the 1950's. In fact, research shows that some types of saturated fats actually lower cholesterol, blood pressure, risk of heart disease, and risk of obesity."

You don't need to be a brain surgeon to read the line in bold above, and consider that since we have been predominantly a carb consuming population, the percentage of lifestyle diseases like heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity and cholesterol issues have increased – it is time to own it, own the decision. Armed with information, we are in a much stronger position to make decisions that are good for ourselves and our families. Changing lifestyles isn't about having to make one different dinner while the rest of the family eats what you used to. This is a great opportunity to make positive changes for your family and with them.

The small print: now is probably a good time to encourage you to have a discussion about your personal situation with your doctor, a nutritionist and the Body and Motion trainers to work out how best to achieve any challenges you have in mind. The thoughts in these blogs are my own personal opinion and shouldn't be taken as direct advice. Some of the choices around what I consume or what activity I partake in may not be endorsed by Body and Motion. However, the team will always be keen enablers of your fitness goals! Talk to us today.


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