Which is Worse for Weight Gain: Fat or Sugar?

Ask ten people this question and most likely all ten will tell you the answer is fat. But is it?

More and more studies are showing fat is not the culprit behind weight gain – it is sugar. But how can that be?

If you go purely by caloric content, fat has over twice the number of calories per gram as sugar – 9 verses 4. So people trying to lose weight jump on the low-fat or fat-free food bandwagon in an attempt to reduce their fat intake and lose weight. The mistake many people make is they associate fat-free or low fat with calorie free and that is a huge mistake.

The companies that are making the low-fat foods replace the fat with sugar and other carbohydrates in an attempt to add back flavor lost from removing the fat and in doing so are adding in massive amount of calories.

But sugar doesn’t satisfy us the way fat does, so people tend to eat more of the low fat food trying to get satisfied and in the end consume more than one portion. If you are not nutrition label savvy, you will not know how many calories, and of which type, you are really eating.

And not all fat is created equally. True, you do want to reduce the amount of saturated fat you consume because it can clog your arteries and eventually lead to heart disease and strokes, but your body needs some fat to live healthy. For example without fat, your body would not get the benefit from vitamins A, D, E and K because these vitamins are fat soluble instead of water soluble as are the other vitamins.

The fat you want to consume are the unsaturated fats – both mono and poly. Monounsaturated fats are found in many of the oils used in cooking, such as olive and canola. The polyunsaturated fats are found in many of the vegetable oils too, such as rapeseed and soybean and show up as Omega 6 fatty oils. But there is also the family of Omega 3s found in the fatty fishes, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and halibut that are good for you. We need a balance of both of the polyunsaturated Omega 3’s and 6’s for good health.

So if you really want to control your weight or lose weight, you should reduce the number of carbohydrate calories, especially the simple carbohydrates such as the sugars, you consume, eat unsaturated fat in moderation instead of saturated, and increase the amount of protein you eat.

Protein helps build strong muscles which in turn burn more calories. This will help you maintain your weight once you are at goal.  As far as foods, focus eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and seeds and stay away from sugar and saturated fat.