What Makes You Gain More Weight?: Sugary Foods or High-Fat Foods

by Allen Gil March 06, 2015

What Makes You Gain More Weight?: Sugary Foods or High-Fat Foods

Photo Credit: berrybreeze.com & lists7.com

Are you the type that craves sweets such as chocolates, candy or even ice cream? Or do you prefer the salty goodness of something like french fries or potato chips? Maybe you fall somewhere in between and like a combination of salty and sweet.

Whether you like one or the other, the debate on which is worse for you still lives on. But the debate on which one is making you fatter may finally be settled once and for all. A study in the UK may have determined whether fatty foods like fried chicken are making you gain more weight than sugary foods like candy.

Here’s how it all began

Identical twins Chris and Alexander Van Tulleken, both doctors for over 11 years now, lived pretty similar lifestyles. As self-proclaimed “gluttons,” they understood the science behind why we eat, but never really learned how to properly fuel their bodies.

The striking difference came when Alexander took a job here in the states while his twin Chris remained back in the UK. Although Alexander faced some lifestyle changes, such as having a son, he had gained a significant amount of weight since moving overseas.

Since they were (and still are) identical twins, they were the perfect specimen to study whether or not genetics, lifestyles or diets had any effect on the weight gain.

One twin went on a no-carb diet while the other opted for a low-fat diet

To give you some background information, both siblings were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, according to Daily Mail. The difference was that Alexander could not have any carbs (including fruits and veggies since they were loaded with healthy carbohydrates) and Chris was only allowed to have enough fat to keep him alive, but not an ounce more. According to Daily Mail, Chris could only consume food that contained about 2% of fat or less.

Everything else remained constant: their genes, their exercise programs and their lifestyles.

So how did the twins fare?

According to the twins, both diets were miserable, which should come as no surprise. What gets interesting is that Alexander (the one on the no-carb diet) was able to eat like a caveman enjoying meat, fish, eggs and cheese, but found himself completely bored and unexcited to eat without carbs. Plus, he was constipated due to the restriction of fruits and veggies. Alexander didn’t have the constant hunger pangs like Chris, but he found himself feeling sluggish and tired all the time. He even reported having terrible breath.

So what happened to Chris and his low-fat diet? He constantly felt hungry and would reach for snacks throughout the day.

In a fake investment game, the twins also reported significantly different performance. Alexander was too groggy and tired to make profitable decisions and Chris (the low-fat dieter) ended up almost tripling his fake investment in just one hour.

As for physical performance, the results were eerily similar. Alexander (the no-carb dieter) did not perform as well physically either. What he did find is that he lost more weight than his twin Chris BUT his weight was coming off of his muscles not his fat.

Here’s where it gets interesting:

The focus was incorrectly placed on which is worse for you: fat or sugar. Instead, the question should have been, “Which foods are making so many of us gain weight and why?”

Let’s sidetrack for a second and explore cravings. According to the study, sugar alone is not what’s doing it. The study even referenced the fact that horses snack on sugar cubes all the time, yet you rarely see an obesity epidemic on the rise among them. On the flip side, fat alone is not necessarily a problem in and of itself. After all, when’s the last time you had a craving for some good old fashioned butter?

So..what gives?! “What is addictive is the combination.”—Daily Mail Yep. It’s that simple.

The results are in:

BBC-Joanna Barwick

By combining fat AND sugar, you’re essentially signaling your brain in the same manner as cocaine does. When you combine the two, your body starts to flood your brain with extra dopamine which leaves you feeling that instant rush, or “sugar high.”

The study used a perfect example. Ice cream is a balance between sugar and fat. Separate the two, and you won’t find that creamy, delicious food you’ve been craving. It’s only when the two join forces that it becomes a problem.

“What we relish is fat/sugar combinations- chocolate, ice cream, French fries.”—Daily Mail

So how can you lose weight? Avoid the fat/sugar combo that generally comes in things like processed foods and unhealthy choices. Choosing to go low-fat or no-carb will only make you miserable and are not sustainable diets. Ever wonder why so many people fail to succeed at these fad diets? It’s science people. Not even rocket science at that.

The debate may finally be settled. Instead of choosing one or the other for your next diet, opt to avoid the combination of fat and sugar altogether.

As a sidenote, the original article is much more lengthy than this one but it’s packed with fascinating explanations and tidbits that I encourage you to read and learn more about. It explores the rationale and the science behind the experiment and even elaborates on some key findings. After reading this article, you should definitely check out the original one found in Daily Mail.

Allen Gil
Allen Gil


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