Yesterday, a friend of mine asked me this question, and it’s a good one. Let’s discuss processed sugar first.
Since most of the population is trying to lose weight while the rest of the populous is trying to maintain a healthy weight and fight disease, the desire to eliminate processed or refined sugar from the diet is well-intended; however, replacing processed sugar with “natural” sugar sources such as raw sugar, agave nectar, honey, brown rice syrup and cane juice, doesn’t equate with weight loss or better health. All sugars are high in caloric density, so if you switch from refined sugar to natural sugar and you’re still consuming more calories than your body needs (We call this being in a calorie surplus), you’ll still gain body fat. Bottom line? You can have your pancakes (with syrup) and eat them too—without gaining weight—as long as you’re in a calorie deficit. Now, I’m not advocating sugar consumption, but whether the sugar you eat is raw, organic, refined, etc., it should be limited, so there’s room in your diet for nutrient rich foods.
Here’s a real-world example: On Sunday, I treated myself to a chocolate croissant for breakfast, and I enjoyed it with a cup of tea while reading the paper. The pastry was clearly not low-sugar, but I can’t recall the last time I ate one, and on Sunday evening, I brought the day to a close with a 30-mile, high-intensity bicycle ride. Perhaps, that breakfast displaced some fruit and whole grains that I’d ordinarily consume, but I eat natural, wholesome food about 90% of the time, and I resumed my healthy eating habits at the following meal, so no harm was done.
In terms of fat, I’ve written about my perspectives before, and my feeling is still the same. “Good fats” can:
- Help regulate blood pressure and your heart rate
- Make the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K possible
- Strengthen cell linings
- Add flavor to recipes
- Stabilize spikes in blood sugar
- Help maintain healthy hair and skin
- Reduce cravings for snacks
- Provide satiety and can aid in weight loss
- Supply your body with energy
Contrary to popular belief, fats don’t make you fat. Fat doesn’t give you cellulite; fat is not the sole reason for heart disease or the obesity crisis in America.
So, moderate, don’t eliminate. This applies to sugar and fat. Keep fats to less than 30% of your diet, and if you’re eating natural foods, this shouldn’t be an issue. For “beneficial” sources of fat, include small amounts of fish, nuts, olives, sunflower, safflower, olive and canola oils in your diet, and you’ll reap all the positive aspects of the nutrient .
More questions? Just ask!