Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sugar vs Fat - Which "Won?"

Identical Twin doctors on dueling diets.

Last night I watched a Netflix movie, “Sugar vs. Fat.” The question addressed is which one is the real culprit in obesity and diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. (Detailed article … click here.)

The concept was unique and interesting … two, mid-30s, identical twin doctors (Xand & Chris) chose to go on different diets for a month and to be thoroughly monitored before, during and after the process. One doctor went on a very low carb diet and the other went on a very low fat diet. The results were surprising … although they probably should not have been. One thing I love about this movie is that a doctor actually admits how little he knew about how all of this nutritional stuff works.

Basically … both lost weight … 2 pounds for Chris, the brother on the low fat diet, 9 pounds for Xand, the brother on the low carb diet (although he had a bit more body fat at the beginning.) Neither were overweight nor athletically lean.

Chris on the low fat (high carb) diet seemed to have more available energy for mental and physical tasks during the diet. Both brothers thought their diets were miserable and unsustainable and Xand (low carb) was constipated and felt sluggish. However, Xand (low carb) was convinced that he would wind up thinner and healthier by avoiding insulin-stimulating sugar and carbs. Chris thought he would wind up healthier because he was avoiding fats.

Both were wrong. Xand (low carb) lost more weight but his blood glucose level approached pre-diabetic levels and a significant portion of his weight loss was muscle mass (never good). Chris’s results (low fat) were not detailed in the movie but it was said that in the long run this probably was not a good diet either.

Bring in the rats!

So, the non-scientific test of identical twins on different diets did not really answer the question of which is better, although it did find the low-carb diet particularly bad for Xand. It took rats to highlight a third possibility.

The movie documents rat studies where rats were given unlimited amounts of pure sugar. They would eat for awhile and then stop. No significant weight gain. Then they were given unlimited amounts of fat. Again, they would eat for awhile and then stop with no significant weight gain.

It was only when the two were put together in the right ratio that the rats started eating uncontrollably and became obese. It is called the “cheesecake” diet because cheesecake just happens to have the magic ratio of 50% sugar and 50% fat and the rats loved it (smart rats!). Apparently that ratio triggers the pleasure response and eating no longer becomes nourishment, it becomes an addictive drug. This is a ratio that is not found in nature according to the movie, although one commenter countered with “milk” and “coconut."

In case you’re wondering what other foods fall into that cheesecake ratio, it probably will not be surprising … glazed donuts, milk chocolate, ice cream, cookies, cakes, puddings … and whether they know it or not, it’s probably the holy grail that most fast food processors are striving for.

And the bottom-line? We’ve heard this over and over … avoid processed foods, eat a balanced diet in moderation and exercise.


  1. Yet again, "Duh." When will we learn? It's all about moderate intake and exercise. We're always looking for the more fun, tasty shortcut!

  2. Duh is right ... but wouldn't it be nice if *they* did find that really tasty, completely satisfying and *healthy* treat? Why can't all that GMO stuff come up with a chocolate flavored carrot?