Monday, March 12, 2012

Fat vs. Sugar

I was watching Seinfeld this morning, courtesy of my friendly neighborhood library. The particular episode involved “fat-free” frozen yogurt, Rudy Giuliani, an election and everyone in New York City experiencing mysterious weight gain. As it turns out the frozen yogurt wasn’t actually fat free. But in real life would that have truly mattered?

There have been some excellent articles lately written about yogurt (not the frozen sort). When I was a kid the food was sort of a hippy-dippy choice. These days it has become an ever popular health food choice for meal replacers and dessert substitutes. Like any food trend, it doesn’t take long for large companies to capitalize the product with different flavors, and low fat options. Yogurt naturally isn’t low in fat; it’s a dairy product how could it be. But since when did fat in your food become such a faux-pas.

A living being needs energy to function. To be specific a long carbon chain which when broken down on the cellular level results in a release of energy. So where do our carbon chains come from? Short ones come from sugar, slightly longer ones come from breads, the longest from fats. This means a person is going to get the most energy from foods with fats in them and the least amount of energy from sugars. Sugars are broken down and absorbed primarily through saliva and immediately taken to the blood stream, this causes that warm rush of energy you get from eating a candy bar. But not all that energy is needed at a given time. Any excess sugars in your system are then stored as fat in your thighs or belly or where ever else genetics granted you as your “problem area”. If fats and sugars are eaten together, needed sugars are used; excess sugars and fats are stored. However, if fats are ingested, especially with fiber, a slow release of energy occurs. This leaves a person feeling full for longer and reduces the amount of energy storage.  That’s not to say you should go siphoning the bacon drippings from your frying pan. I would hope the world has a tad more sense than that. But sugars need to be watched for.

The old-fashioned type non-fat yogurt I grew up with no longer exists. Because it tastes gross and thus doesn’t sell. So to appeal to the masses and still provide a tasty product companies have started dumping sugar into non-fat products. Have you ever looked at a nutrition label for non-fat yogurt, the sugar content is astronomical. So while you are waltzing down the dairy isle thinking you have made a fabulous life choice by reducing your fat intake, don’t forget your own biological priorities for energy. If the only choice is fat or sugar, opt for the fat. Your blood sugar will thank you later.