Horizon Documentary: Fat V Sugar

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Horizon Documentary: Fat V Sugar

13th Feb 2014

Horizon Documentary Review: Fat vs. Sugar

Ever heard of the phrase shut the stable door after the horse as bolted. Last nights BBC2 documentary reminded me of that. Don't get me wrong I am all for the spread of the message of following good nutrition and raising awareness about sugar but some of the information has been in the public domain for years and has been ignored by those who could promote it. The documentary aired was an anecdotal comparison case study of high sugar and high fat diets.

First we saw them do a cognitive function test, which showed our brains function better on glucose. Although this is true our brain prefers glucose as fuel our body is a survival mechanism and any glucose in our body is used to fuel the brain first. For the test we saw them eat before the task on their high sugar and high fat meals alone, not a true composition of nutrients. What it doesn't show that the average everyday person works for over eight hours meaning that high sugar diets can cause crashes, early on set of hunger and energy levels to plummet through the day reducing the work efficiency compared with a meal of of protein, fat and vegetables.

The exercise test produced the results that glucose supplements, like those used by cyclists on the Tour de France, boost exercising performance. One question are you an athlete? If not then you are not trying to fuel yourself to complete a 338km stage. You will have other personal goals that you should target your nutrition at. Consuming sugar before training may improve performance but what you do is stop your body from becoming an efficient fat burner. The focus should always be post exercise to improve recovery and future performance the next time you train. You need adequate recovery nutrition, which includes key carbohydrates to replenish energy stores. Remember exercise will also be goals specific and long endurance cardio sessions might benefit from a surge of sugar they aren't the best way to support weight loss and selection can be as crucial as participation.

In terms of fat loss the high sugar diet produced small reduction and diet quality is key as large volume of certain vegetables can be considered high sugar diet, dependent on source, that some vegans and vegetarians will follow with some body shape benefits. High fat diets showed large reduction in fat loss but combined with lean body mass due to being totally deficient in good carbohydrates, vegetables, will cause the body to breakdown muscle for energy. We can also achieve short term weight loss through calorie restriction independent on their diets make up. This is where we need a level playing field focusing on consuming the right food to maintain health, especially if exercising. Getting adequate intake from meats, healthy fats (don't think a takeaway cheeseburger he had is a heathy fat), vegetables along with other key nutrients dependent on your health and goal.

The end of the show focuses on something where my interest lies and thats the addictive nature of food and how habits formed with constant repetition and self reward has disrupted our own regulation of food. It is the make up of our food today that has lead us here and the complexity of it shows that not one food change will guarantee you results but a combination on guidelines and lifestyle changes can promote the health you want and its doesn't just end with nutrition (sleep, stress etc...).

Their take home message falls lovely with in new government guidelines of low fat and low sugar diets through small changes. I would focus on the following details when changing what you eat:
Diets high in fat alone will not give you everything you need so make sure you increase vegetables and for some fruit intake to make what you eat not only macronutrient but also micronutrient dense.

Diets high in sugar will be through overconsumption of poor nutrient quality processed sources and without fat in our diet we miss out on an energy source, vital vitamin absorption, essential fats and bodies multiple other fat required actions

Exercise and diet are linked with a greater focus on recovery fuel for training and correct feeding over the course of the day to support

Food awareness still needs to be increased whether that is the idea of greater education, resources or individuals ability to regulate their intake

And to finish with their phrase "its not fat, it's not sugar, it's processed food", look to source natural, whole ingredients and make your own meals guaranteed to help