Is It A Carbohydrate Issue Or A Fat Issue?
This last week I received some questions on this blog and thought I would clarify a few of the items with tie-ins to this question.
Over the last few months there has been a lot of press on studies showing saturated fat is not the issue with respect to heart disease and health. Is this really true? Could all the previous information and data be irrelevant?
For years we were told fat, particularly saturated fat, was the culprit and as long as you avoided it your heart would be healthy. Unfortunately many took this for license to eat anything as long as it did not contain fat, which led to the Snackwell’s era with those fat-free cookies flying off the shelves.
Since nutrition is a very young science new studies are revealing how varying macronutrient (carbohydrate/protein/fat) combinations affect our health.? Research clearly shows you cannot blame a metabolic problem on one nutrient.
Some things to consider are:
What is your genetic makeup? Are you someone who is insulin-resistant and stores weight in their middle or someone who is slim, has a high metabolism and whose insulin works like a charm otherwise known as insulin sensitive.
If you are insulin-resistant, having more protein and fat with less carbohydrate will benefit your metabolism and health. This is not a license for eating large amounts of saturated fat but consuming healthy grass-fed cheeses and butter for flavor can be beneficial.
In general, most of the population consumes more carbohydrate than they need or can metabolize since we live more sedentary lives than we did even 25 years ago.
In addition, some research shows that the only way fat can be a problem is if someone is overconsuming carbohydrates and/or sugars. Excessive intake of carbohydrates can contribute to elevated levels of Apo B and small dense LDL. Apo B is the primary substance responsible for carrying cholesterol to the tissues, which can lead to plaque and heart disease; small dense LDL is the one responsible for plaque while the large dense fluffy LDL is not.
The real culprits are excess sugars and carbohydrates (even healthy ones) if your body cannot metabolize them, and trans fat.
If you are relying on labels that say “no trans fat” you are being misled. First, consume as many foods as you can without a label and if a product contains oil and has increased shelf life (i.e. processed packaged food with an expiration date months away) chances are it contains trans fat. Food labels contain smaller serving sizes so manufacturers can make those claims when in reality most individuals eat much more than the portion on the label.
If you are carbohydrate sensitive what is your take home message?
If you want to have the knowledge of how your body metabolizes food consider getting a panel of your biomarkers to show how your body metabolizes macronutrients. It will show your level of insulin resistance vs. sensitivity, and breaks down the cholesterol panel numbers to show if you have particles in your blood which are much more indicative of heart disease than the usual cholesterol numbers. This panel also breaks down the types of cholesterol and will give you your small dense LDL as well as your Apo B number.
If you have a high triglyceride number (over 150) or a fasting blood sugar over 93 chances are you are likely to have a carbohydrate issue, so consider consulting a health care professional/dietitian to carefully balance your eating plan to match your blood levels. Eating saturated fat is not going to break your health bank, and may provide calories and flavor to replace carbohydrates your body does not need.
Investigate your blood levels, experiment with different balances of carbohydrate/protein and fat but most of all consider an assessment of your genetics and health which can lead you down the road to having more money in your heart bank account.