Carbs vs Fat: Which One Is The Real Problem?

Well… the answer is neither ( you didn’t think I was really going to stigmatize a macronutrient, did you?!) , but now that I have you here I want to draw your attention to the fact that many of the foods that you have been trained to think are “bad” because they are so high in carbohydrates, often tend to be just as high in fat.

We all know that there is a very strong anti-carb/anti-sugar crusade going on right now and I quite honestly believe it is extraordinarily damaging to the health of the public.

People believe that “carbs will make them fat” to the point where I see clients who are cutting out fruit because they have been led to fear carbohydrates above all else. ( I explain why cutting out fruit is a BAD idea here)

This where I come in.

Today I continue my pro-carbohydrate crusade by dropping one very powerful piece of wisdom…

Many of the foods you may think are high calorie owing to their carbohydrate content could contain as much, if not more, calories from fat!

Gasp!!!!  In fact, according to comprehensive Health Canada data from 2004, the average Canadian adult is actually more likely to consume fat, rather than carbs, above recommended levels.

Let’s take a look at some great examples of common “high carb” foods*:

Lay’s Chips   – 280 Calories Per 50g  Serving

162 Calories From Fat

104 Calories From Carbohydrates

Haagen Das Vanilla  – 250 Calories Per ½ Cup

153 Calories From Fat

84 Calories From Carbohydrates

Starbuck’s Oat Bar – 360 Calories Per Bar

171 Calories From Fat

172 Calories From Carbohydrates

McDonald’s Mini Fry – 120 Calories Per Serving

54 Calories From Fat

64 Calories From Carbohydrates

Dunkin Donut ( randomly selected variety) – 310 Calories per Donut

144 Calories From Fat

160 Calories From Carbohydrates

Mrs Fields Triple Chocolate Cookie – 210 Calories Per Cookie

90 Calories From Fat

112 Calories From Carbohydrates

*All nutrition information was collected today from respective food company websites

Take Home Message

Neither carbs nor fat are singularly responsible for the health and weight woes we face in North America today.

The goal of today’s article was simply to enlighten to you this fact, but also understand that there is little value in stigmatizing a single food or macronutrient.

Yes, the foods in the list above are high in calories…. but they are just as high in fat as they are in carbohydrates.

In an age of misinformation, it’s incredibly important to try to remain informed and aware.

In reality, many of the healthiest carbohydrate containing foods ( fruits, whole grains, veggies) contain little to no fat, and many of the healthiest fat-containing foods contain relatively little carbohydrate ( avocado, nuts, fatty fish).

Both of these types of foods are incredibly important for our health.

Something to think about!

Until next time,

Andy De Santis RD MPH