The blame game: Sugar vs carbs vs fats, who's the real culprit?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 31, 2017

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Quick Bites

  • Sugar is a type of carbohydrate.
  • The best forms of sugar are those found naturally occurring in foods, such as fruits.
  • Dietary fats are essential to your health.

The three amigos of dieting, over the last few decades we’ve seen a gamut of reasons to go sugar-free, carb-free and fat-free with a new fad diet to support each cause and deliver a slimmer waistline.

Carbohydrates and fats, though often cited as unhealthy dietary components, are macronutrients that play a vital role in maintaining your overall health. Added sugar, on the other hand, doesn’t provide much of a benefit to the body. You have probably heard that carbohydrates can lead to weight gain (and this might lead you to think that sugar is worse) but you may have also heard that fat can lead to weight gain (and this may lead you thinking fat is worse). With these two thoughts in your head you can find yourself bouncing from a low-fat diet to a low-carb diet and then back to a low-fat diet.

Here as per Sridhar Varadaraj, the founder and managing partner of Zago, carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Carbs, however, aren’t all created equal. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends getting your carbs from fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. All of these carbs are complex, which means they’re filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Simple carbohydrates, like refined grains and processed foods, rarely contain the nutrients found in complex carbohydrates, therefore don’t serve a true purpose for your overall health.

Dietary fats are essential to your health. They’re used by the body for growth as well as to prevent certain diseases, such as high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. Certain fats are healthier than others, however, and all should be consumed with limits in mind. 

Sugar is actually a type of carbohydrate. The best forms of sugar are those found naturally occurring in foods, such as fruits, vegetables and dairy. But added sugars found in many processed foods aren’t good for the body, particularly when consumed in great quantities. 

Fat-free diets which may seem healthy are actually carb-heavy foods, where good fats are replaced by sugars. Sugar is turned into fat in your body because your body doesn’t like to waste energy. When you drink a soda, or eat something sugary, your body cannot possibly use all that sugar energy. Your body’s solution to extra sugar energy running around the body is to store it. This is why low-carb diets work, if you keep your blood sugar low then you also keeps your body from converting blood sugar into body fat.

The case against sugar is a strong one; there isn’t a single study that advocates high sugar diets as favourable additions to any diet. The role sugar plays in a well-balanced diet is a small one and yet excessive consumption of sugar is the main culprit for slow weight loss and rapid weight gain. 

In the blame game fitness and health enthusiasts can agree, sugar consumed excessively is not the best for those looking to improve their current and long term health. Fats are a misunderstood macronutrient, good fats are essential to maintain overall health as long the differentiation is made between the good and bad. Carbs aren’t the worst of the lot as they can still be sourced from healthy sources and can provide the body with fuel.

Image: Pixabay

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