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July 5, 2013 by NATASHA LONGO
Why Government Recommendations To Reduce Sugar and Fat Don't Work For People


Contrary to government recommendations which emphasize both a reduction of fat and sugar, if you're interested in lowering blood sugar, resetting your metabolism and preventing weight gain, a low-fat diet is not in your best interest and fat is not the problem.


Research published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition shows why people find it hard to follow Government guidelines to cut their fat and sugars intake at the same time – a phenomenon known as the sugar-fat seesaw.

The review looked at 53 scientific papers and found a strong and consistent inverse association in the percentage of energy coming from fats and sugars. People with diets low in sugars were likely to be high in fat, and vice-versa. Nutritionists have labelled this the ‘sugar-fat seesaw’.

That's no suprise as previous studies such as a two-year dietary study published in the journal Diabetologia showed that food with a lot of fat and few carbohydrates has a better effect on blood sugar levels and blood lipids. Despite the increased fat intake with a larger portion of saturated fatty acids, their lipoproteins did not get worse. Quite the contrary -- the HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol, content increased on the high fat diet.

Dr Michele Sadler, who led the research team, said: “A key reason that we see this sugar-fat seesaw is likely to be because sources of sugars such as fruit, breakfast cereals and juices are low in fat, while sources of fat such as oils and meat products are low in sugar.”

Research from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem shows that a carefully scheduled high-fat diet can lead to a reduction in body weight and a unique metabolism in which ingested fats are not stored, but rather used for energy at times when no food is available. The results were published in The FASEB Journal under the title "Timed high-fat diet resets circadian metabolism and prevents obesity".

According to Prof. Froy, "Our research shows that the timing of food consumption takes precedence over the amount of fat in the diet, leading to improved metabolism and helping to prevent obesity. Improving metabolism through the careful scheduling of meals, without limiting the content of the daily menu, could be used as a therapeutic tool to prevent obesity in humans."

Dietary guidelines are typically set and described as a percentage of daily energy intakes. Therefore, the researchers suggest that people may find it difficult to follow advice to reduce the sugars and fats contribution to energy intakes at the same time, something recommended by the Government.

Dr Sadler added: “This study highlights the need to focus dietary messages on eating a healthy balanced diet and not categorizing individual nutrients as good or bad, which could result in unbalanced dietary habits.”

Natasha Longo has a master's degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness and nutritional counselor. She has consulted on public health policy and procurement in Canada, Australia, Spain, Ireland, England and Germany.


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