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Do Sugar and Fat Always Seesaw?

by Joan Kent

posted in Health and Fitness

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In a previous article, I've written about the sugar/fat seesaw. That really is a thing. As one decreases in the diet, the other tends to increase.
But it's obvious that the two can increase together. Sugar can increase fats in someone's diet in several ways - and they're not always the best fats. This article covers a few of those ways.
Sugar Can Change Food Preferences
My nutrition clients who dislike vegetables almost always eat a lot of sugar. The connection here is pretty straightforward: people who are accustomed to the taste of sweet don't enjoy foods that lack that taste. And vegetables certainly aren't sweet, so people who eat lots of sugar often avoid vegetables.
Some clients will protest that they like vegetables even though they also like sugary foods. It's definitely possible to like both.
But it's also common for fans of vegetables to enjoy what they put on the vegetables - dressings, sauces, some vinegars - just as much as, or more than, they like vegetables. In some cases, the vegetables are simply a vehicle for the sauce or dressing - which may contain sugar.
What About Fat?
The sauces or dressings that contain sugar might also contain fat. Commercially prepared ones frequently have both. Using them will obviously increase the amount of sugar and fat in the diet.
Sugar also triggers a release of a brain chemical called beta-endorphin (most people say "endorphins"). Beta-endorphin in turn brings on a preference for other endorphin-triggering foods. That usually means sugar, fat, or a combination of the two.
Examples of sugar and fat combinations include ice cream, chocolate, chocolate cake, baklava and other desserts, or breakfast pastries. Many more examples are out there.
As explained in a previous article, research has shown that fat makes sugar taste sweeter.
In a study using mixtures that resembled cake frosting, participants were given different mixtures to rate, according to how sweet they tasted. When the mixtures had sugar alone, participants rated the ones with more sugar as sweeter.
When fat was added, mixtures with more fat were given a higher sweetness rating, even though the amount of sugar was the same as - or sometimes less than - the amount in the other sugar/fat frostings.
There's more to all of this, including something I named "secondary fat consumption", as well as the hormone ghrelin. Stay tuned.
About the Author: Do you feel stuck on sugar? I'm passionate about helping people quit. Grab your free copy of "3 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Trying To Quit Sugar" when you visit
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