Across the pond, twin doctors Alexander and Chris Van Tulleken attempted to “answer the hottest question in nutrition” for the BBC documentary Sugar v Fat. In a piece for the Daily Mail, they share their take on the sugar vs fat question:
The most interesting thing we found was that we were asking the wrong question. It’s not which is worse for you, fat or sugar, but rather which foods are making so many of us gain weight and why? …
What we discovered is that the real reason we’re all getting fatter isn’t fat or sugar.
Furthermore, sugar alone isn’t very addictive – only horses snack on sugar cubes and very few people gorge on boiled sweets or dry toast.
And fat isn’t really addictive either: when did you last sneak a spoonful of butter from the fridge late at night?
The modern processed food industry knows this and that’s why you’re rarely sold the two separately – what is addictive is the combination.
As it turns out, the relatively short duration of the experiment — one month — meant that the low-carber had issues with adaptation (ref his comment that ketones aren’t “great brain food” or his performance problems in tests against his twin). OTOH, he had more weight loss thanks to the loss of his stored glycogen.
But it turns out that neither diet was palatable to either twin: “both of these diets were miserable.”
If you want to lose weight it will be much easier if you avoid processed foods made with sugar and fat. These foods affect your brain in a completely different way from natural foods and it’s hard for anyone to resist eating too much.
And any diet that eliminates fat or sugar will be unpalatable, hard to sustain and probably be bad for your health, too.
Their experiment has its flaws, but on the other hand, I think it does show that for the average person, either diet is too restrictive for the long term. That said, I suspect that the real truth is that any diet that has you minimizing hyperpalatable foods is a step in the right direction. Here’s hoping this program helps get that message across.