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The Truth About Fattening Foods

As a nutritionist, this question makes me cringe. And Mum if you’re reading this, I love you but please stop asking me if the food you are about to eat is fattening or not.

So why do I have such strong feels about this topic? Let me explain.

No food is fattening! 

There I said it. 

But don’t get too excited and race to the nearest fast food restaurant.

All food can be fattening. As I explained in this blog post here, weight gain comes down to calories in vs calories out. So it doesn’t matter if you eat kale and tomatoes all day, if you eat more than your body burns it will be turned into fat. 

Has anyone heard of the Twinkie guy? Before you think I’ve made an error and started talking about something random let me explain why this is relevant.

The Twinkie Guy, also known as Mark Haub, is a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University. He lost 12.2kg in 10 weeks eating a diet of just Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos.  

He was out to prove that the only important factor when it comes to weight loss is the law of thermodynamics (calories in vs calories out). He proved that a caloric deficit is all that matters for successful weight loss. 

Let me just say, it was a dreadful diet and I DO NOT recommend it. It was designed to prove a point and it did just that. It’s lacking in nearly all essential vitamins and minerals - which is why he included protein shakes and multivitamins during his experiment to fill any gaps in nutrient intake. It also had a terrible macronutrient balance... and the list goes on. 

But it did what it was meant to do - prove that it doesn’t matter what you do to lose weight, you HAVE to be in a calorie deficit, full stop no returns. 

In conclusion, the professor reduced his calorie intake from a maintenance level of roughly 2,600 calories per day to less than 1,800 kcal for 10 weeks.

So what SHOULD you ask?

The better question that should be asked is - 

Is this food a nutritious choice or not?

Now that is an appropriate question. 

When it comes to weight loss, it's about calorie balance, but when it comes to health, wellness and longevity you should be asking whether the food you are about to eat is giving you anything but energy. Is it giving you vitamins? Minerals? Nutrients? 

If you have a diet that is calorie controlled for your goal (weight loss, weight gain or maintenance), then the only thing you need to worry about is how it can help your insides, or hinder your insides.

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