Thursday, April 3, 2008

You can get fat if you eat fat.....Certain fats that is.

As a naturopathic doc, I counsel many people on their diet and how it relates to their health. More often than not, the discussion eventually turns to dietary influences on weight gain. I am always quick to point out that refined carbs and sugar are two of the most likely culprits in weight gain. I also commonly recommend eating more fat and less grains of any kind, always being sure to emphasize the need for these fats to be "good fats" like the kind you'd find in olive oil, avocados, organic butter, grass fed meats, seafoods, and coconut oil.

While I usually do not talk about them in weight loss discussions, I also make sure to recommend strict avoidance of trans fatty acids, or hydrogenated oils. After all, these are some of the worst "foods" on the planet, and make you sick in many ways, including increasing your risk of cancer and heart disease. What I was not aware of, however, was their tremendous effect on weight gain, until I read about a recent study in the journal Obesity.

The new study looked at the effect of a high-trans-fat diet on sugar metabolism and weight gain in male African green monkeys. Forty-two monkeys were assigned to eat either a high-trans-fat diet or a low-trans-fat diet for six years. The monkeys on the high-trans-fat diet were given partially hydrogenated soybean oil so that trans fats accounted for approximately 8% of their daily calories—an amount similar to that of people who eat the most trans fats. The other monkeys ate the same diet but their fat was from a blend of oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids.

At the end of the study, the monkeys on the high-trans-fat diet gained four times as much weight and had more body fat than their counterparts, and a greater percentage of their body fat was in the abdomen, a pattern known to be linked to increased cardiac risk. Blood tests revealed that these monkeys showed signs of insulin resistance, a condition that leads to type 2 diabetes, but the other monkeys had normal responses to sugar and insulin.

It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways crappy food is bad for you.

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