Fats vs Fiber: Which is More Important to Your Waistline?

Usually I try to put in some sort of quirky, humorous introduction right about here for at least a couple of paragraphs. Besides being mildly entertaining, it also serves to introduce the topic while explaning some terms you might not be familiar with. But I’m going to dispense with all of that today, because you’ve heard just about every single point-of-view and fact on today’s topic already.

America is fat.

There, that should do it.

One term often used to describe individual health that you might not be so familiar with, however, is metabolic syndrome, or MetS. Metabolic syndrome is defined slightly differently by several organizations like the World Health Organization or the International Diabetes Federation. But the overall gist is that you have metabolic syndrome if you meet three to four tests of general fatness. For example, a large BMI, a huge waste, resistance to insulin, and high blood pressure put together equals metabolic syndrome.

I think by now most people have heard what they are and aren’t supposed to eat. Fried foods, over-processed breads and meats, high sugar anything, fatty meats, etc. etc. Somehow, though, some people still aren’t so sure what it is that they are supposed to be eating instead. Rice cakes and iceberg lettuce is akin to eating cardboard and a glass of water; there’s no nutritional value there.

So Joseph Carlson from Michigan State University set out to see which was more important, what you are or aren’t supposed to eat. He took data from more than 2,000 adolescent boys and girls who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002 to see if there was a correlation between having metabolic syndrome and either a high-fiber diet or a high-fat diet.

Unsurprisingly, folks who eat a lot of fiber had a much lower chance of being clinically fat. This is because natural fiber typically comes from plants, legumes, vegetables and what not. Any dietician will tell you that these foods will help you stay fuller longer and still keep your caloric intake in check.

On the other side of the coin, and perhaps a bit more surprisingly, low levels of fat and cholesterol consumption seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with your odds of having metabolic syndrome. The reason? Fats aren’t bad! There are plenty of healthy fats and cholesterol to be found in yogurt, nuts, eggs and, yes, even your hamburgers and hot dogs. Fats keep you fuller longer and keep your engine running throughout the entire day. Fats, in short, are not the enemy.

The key is avoiding those half-pound burgers five nights a week. But, in general, cutting out all your fats isn’t the best way to stay trim, and this study is just another proof of that often overlooked concept.


About bigkingken

A science writer dedicated to proving that the Big Ten - or the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, if you will - is more than athletics.
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