Consider a baked potato. I’d say your average person would top that potato with some butter. Of course even though this is comfort food, it’s off limits right? Everyone knows this will make you gain weight!
So, question: is it the carbs in the potato, or the fat in the butter, that will make you fat?
In other words, hold the butter, or hold the potato?
If you pay attention to the loudest voices in the “health” movement, your answer would be to hold the potato/cut the carbs because carbs make you fat. Which would be wrong.
That’s the beauty of science. We can actually answer these questions!
And hey, a team of researchers has done that!
They took obese men and women and put them on completely controlled diets. In other words, researchers chose every single thing they ate during the study, which meant they had complete control over the amount of calories consumed, and the sources (i.e. carbs, fat, and protein).
In one group, participants reduced their calories by 30%, and achieved this reduction by limiting only calories from fat. The second group also reduced their calories by 30%, but they achieved this reduction by limiting only calories from carbohydrates. It’s carbs versus fat time!
Which group lost more body fat?
The group that limited their calories from fat lost 67% more body fat than the group limiting their carbs. 67%! Remember that total calorie reduction was identical. By all means their weight-loss should have been identical.
Instead, cutting fat lead to, well, cutting more fat. On the other hand, cutting carbs lead to, well, keeping more fat.
So, to answer your question — hold the butter, please!
Why This Matters.
This matters for several reasons, but the main reason is that carbs are only found in plant foods (aside from lactose in dairy milk). When so called “diet gurus” demonize carbs, they advocate for a diet low in plant foods. And since you have to eat something, these diets are high in animal fat and protein. Not good.
Of course, whole foods still matter as well. Saying “you are better off cutting your fat consumption” is not an endorsement of all foods with carbohydrates. Soda is 100% carbohydrate, and is decidedly unhealthy. Not because it has carbs, but because it is soda.
The real thesis here is to limit your fat consumption, and replace those calories with whole plant foods. That switch is a real winner! Make that switch and you will lose body fat and reduce your risk for heart disease, type-2 diabetes, certain cancers, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and more!
So the next time someone tells you carbs make you fat, you can remind them that science suggests otherwise. You can also be sure to show off all your knowledge about how whole plant foods are great sources of healthy carbohydrates and how you should eat them in abundance!