How much Fat and Sugar is in Your Diet?
Few of us can have missed the continual ticking’s off we get from health experts on television, radio and in magazines over world’s expanding waistline. It’s true that we are getting larger, and if we don’t take things in hand, it really is only going to be a matter of time before we end up being obese.
If you look at the population as a whole you can show time and time again that those who eat more starch and sugar eat less fat, and those who eat more fat eat less starch and sugar. This phenomenon is called the Sugar—Fat Seesaw. When sugar goes up, fat comes down. When fat goes up, sugar comes down. Since fat has twice the calories of sugar, you can see how eating more sugar can actually help you to lose weight.
How does breakfast help to keep you slim? It’s now been demonstrated that the breakfast-skippers among you have higher fat intakes than those who sit down and eat a cereal breakfast before leaving home. This is true for adults, teenagers and children alike. It’s also been shown that cereal breakfast-eaters have lower fat intakes than all other people, not just breakfast-skippers. This is probably for several reasons.
First, cereals replace traditional higher-fat foods such as fried toast, eggs, bacon and sausages. Secondly, cereals tip the balance of the day’s food intake in the direction of sugar in the sugar—fat seesaw.
This simple message to increase consumption of breakfast cereals could help achieve targets for weight control and thus improve the health of the nation. Imagine, a nutritionist saying, yes, go on, eat more of something other than just fruits and vegetables. Sugar-coated cereals, high-fibre cereals, whatever you fancy. Just eat more and you could lose weight. Not bad, eh?
Some scientists decided to check out this research to see whether the simple recommendation to eat cereal for breakfast could swing the sugar—fat seesaw and potentially help to stop the relentless march towards a national weight disaster. Sixty normal and slightly overweight women were split into two groups. One group was simply asked to eat 60 grams of breakfast cereal (about two bowls) with semi-skimmed milk, and then to eat as normal for the rest of the day. The other groups was told to eat as normal.
After twelve weeks, sure enough, the amount of fat in the cereal-eaters diets had gone down and the amount of carbohydrate up. The sugar—fat seesaw was moving. Did this have any effect on their weight, even though they weren’t trying to lose any? The answer was yes. Those who ate 60 grams of cereal a day effortlessly lost an average of nearly 1.5 kilograms over the twelve weeks. Those women who had been a little overweight at the start of the twelve weeks lost more than that.
Other tests showed that people who were deliberately trying to lose weight managed to shift most when they were advised to follow a low-fat diet but not told to restrict their sugar intakes. After eight weeks those who had tried to limit fat and sugar had lost 2 kilos, whereas those who were told just to restrict fat lost 3 kilos. Another eight weeks later, they had sustained this weight loss. Getting people to concentrate on reducing fat intake seems to be the key to their losing weight. This is just a smallish group of people and the test took place only over a four-month period, but you have to agree, it’s pretty interesting stuff.