The first time I ever picked up a barbell was in 1983 - right in the heart of the "fat phobia era." During the 80s and early 90s, the magazines, television and nearly all the media pounded the message into our brains that fat was bad. No distinction was made between types of fats - the message was black and white; "Fat is unhealthy and fat makes you fat."
This spawned an entire industry of fat-free foods such as cakes, cookies, candy, ice cream, yogurt, frozen dinners, lunch meats and nearly every other food you can think of. This was the age of the fat-free Snackwell cookies and Entenmanns cakes, and almost all of us partook of these deliciously sweet and seemingly guilt-free goodies. We ate them without fear because we believed it was okay since the label said "FAT FREE!"
Even though the consumption of dietary fat decreased dramatically over the past two decades, a very strange thing happened: The incidence of obesity and health problems continued to rise through the 80s into the 90s and it still hasn't stopped. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there was a 61% increase in the prevalence of obesity between 1991 and 2000. Today, there are more overweight people than ever before - 100 million, to be exact! Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are still three of the biggest killers and it seems there's no end in sight to these epidemics.
If collectively, we all cut the fat out of our diets in the 80s and 90s, then how could it be that we continued to get fatter and our health deteriorated? Part of the answer is so glaringly obvious it's almost embarrassing:
"FAT FREE" DOESN'T MEAN SUGAR FREE OR CALORIE FREE!
What's happened over the past two decades is that many people cut out the fat, and simply replaced it with refined sugar. Even foods that always were fat free all of a sudden started sporting new labels that proudly proclaimed "NO FAT!" A food can say "fat free" on the label and be 100% sugar! If you eat a lot of sugar or if you eat more calories than you burn, it doesn't matter how little dietary fat you eat - you're still going to get fat!
Saturated and processed fats are bad enough, but in my opinion, sugar and processed carbohydrates are more responsible for disease and obesity in our society today than any other single factor. Replacing fat with sugar is going from the frying pan into the fire. It's only when you're eating a mildly calorie restricted diet that's low in refined sugar and low in the bad fats that your body fat will finally begin to drop.
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