Fat vs. Sugar : Part 1- Sugar


Part 1- Sugar

Welcome to our three part blog series about Fat vs Sugar. Are you really confused by all the crazy new fad diets and what effects they are having on your health and your thyroid?

I can assure you you’re not alone. In this series I’m going to take you through the pros and cons of the latest health crazes. This is the new debate on weather fat or sugar is the enemy to our health and weight. I will also show you the effects that each of these has on your thyroid health and the important steps to take today to ensure that you have a healthy balanced thyroid.

In the 80’s we were told that fat was the enemy, but the new message is that sugar is the real enemy to weight loss. So what is the real answer and how do you wade through all the different diets and make sure they also help your thyroid health as opposed to making it worse (which many diets will do).

The facts are that all diets will help you lose weight if you are reducing calories. However, as anyone who has ever followed a low calorie diet will be well aware is that the results are often short lived, and if you suffer from an underactive thyroid weight loss may be minimal and side effects such as constipation and fatigue significant! To ensure that you can achieve the health and body your desire you must be able to stay on the program long term. For this to happen the foods you eat need to support your health, energy and digestion as well as providing adequate nutrients and calories to ensure that you do not feel deprived. So what is the story about sugar? Well we all know that sugar, the white powder, is loaded with empty calories. Meaning it contains a high amount of calories and little to no vitamins, minerals or phytonutrients. What a lot of people don’t realise is that all carbohydrates break down to sugar in the body. That is all breads, grains, fruit, vegetables and treats made from sugar will eventually breakdown to a single sugar molecule and be used by the body in the same way. This is used either for energy or stored as fat.

As a result of this knowledge many people have hypothesised that all carbohydrates are bad for us and as such all carbohydrates should be avoided in our diets, especially for weight loss. I’m sure many of you have tried these types of programs. These programs are really hard for most people to stick to, especially long term. This type of diet has a twofold impact on your body. Firstly, you are depriving your body of many essential nutrients for optimal health including vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in fresh fruit and vegetables. Secondly, you are reducing the available glucose the body needs for both mental and physical energy.

Research has shown that if you deprive the body of carbohydrates completely for 2-3 days you will significantly reduce your athletic ability as well as your ability to concentrate and focus on tasks. So basically you may feel slim but you’ll feel tired, lethargic and unable to focus! Not a good combination if you are already suffering the effects of an underactive thyroid.

Is that to say that you should go crazy and add sugar to your coffee and have half a loaf of crusty bread each day? Unfortunately the answer to that is no. The reality for many of us is that the energy we require for our mostly sedentary lives is not matching the high carbohydrate intake that is part of the standard Western diet. For example cereal for breakfast, museli bar for morning tea, sandwich for lunch, biscuits for snacks, pasta for dinner and a chocolate treat after dinner. For many people this would be considered a “healthy ” diet. However most people would just not require this amount of glucose for healthy function and it will overtime lead to weight gain.

The newest research shows that this excess carbohydrate (converting to sugar in the body) impacts how our bodies produce insulin. The hormone that regulates our uptake of sugar from the blood stream, this hormone is also believed to have a flow on effect to all the other hormones in our body such as thyroid and oestrogen. This is shown significantly in women with PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome) where significant improvements in hormone levels are seen when treated for insulin resistance. The flip side of this is also seen in extreme dieting where insulin resistance is affected when no carbohydrates are in the diet.

What is most important about carbohydrates is the type of carbohydrates that you are focusing on. Fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds and legumes are all great ways to ensure that your diet is full of high quality carbohydrates that will provide your body the vital nutrients it requires to function optimally (including thyroid function).

Reducing sugar in your diet is important to thyroid health but it is only one part of the picture. Watch out for part 2 of fat vs sugar to find out how you can enjoy a delicious fat in your diet everyday and actually increase weight loss and your metabolism.