The fat factor

You can justify almost anything to yourself if you really want to. No doubt Julius Caesar said to himself, “We-e-lll, it will do the Britons good to be exposed to a little Roman culture. Sure, they will die a bit, but they’ll a lot more cultured when they do.” In the same way producers of home renovation shows surely tell themselves that the elevation of the banal and the talentless serves society by reminding us what we lack on television these days. Self-justification us a powerful tool and we all do it to a lesser or greater degree. Admit it, there are times when you justify eating horrible fatty foods on the basis that you will eat healthy food again very soon. The problem with that, as with most justification actually, is that it only takes a few days of bad eating to damage your body as a new study has shown.

In the new study healthy university students were fed a diet loaded with fat and including foods like “sausage biscuits” (sausage patties in between scone-like savoury bread usually made with baking powder), macaroni cheese, and lots of butter. Where a normal diet consists of around 30 per cent fat this diet consisted of around 55 per cent fat however, overall kilojoule intake remained the same as it did prior to the diet.

Muscle samples taken from the subjects showed that after just five days eating a high fat diet there were changes in the way muscle metabolises nutrients. When you eat food the level of glucose in your blood rises and muscle is a major clearing house for that glucose either breaking it down for energy or storing it for future use. After just five days of the high fat diet muscle’s ability to oxidise glucose after a meal was significantly reduced and that has far-reaching consequences for the body. After all, muscles make up around 30 per cent of bodyweight and are responsible for a significant percentage of glucose metabolism.

Whether it be on holidays or at times of celebration the temptation is there to indulge for a few days in eating food that you know to be bad. That’s OK, but don’t justify it to yourself on the basis that it won’t have any long term effects, because it will; there really are no free lunches.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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