Do fat substitutes make you GAIN weight?
For years people have lived under the impression that if they substituted fake fat for real fat, i.e. using Olean (AKA Olestra), they would lose weight, but a Study from Purdue University may have proved the exact opposite! I have never eaten something that says it can cause anal leakage on the label, but I know that some people swear by eating "fatty" foods made with fat supplements to get a snack without all the extra fat.
What is Olean?
It is a fat substitute that adds no fat, calories, or cholesterol to foods. It came out in the late 90's, gained a lot of popularity, then lost its luster a bit because people starting falling prey to the horrible side effects because they weren't reading the label! So, the label stated that the product may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools, along with the loss of fat soluble vitamins A,D,E,&K. Because Olean is a "fat" made from sucrose and the molecules can bind with many different fatty acids, it becomes too large for our digestive tracks to absorb, so we don't absorb it, and it comes out....and boy does it! Apparently it was created to taste/feel the exact same as regular fat in our mouthes, i.e. WOW potato chips (made with olean) taste the same as regular. Hmmm....
So why might you GAIN weight?
Well, I have discussed in pervious blogs about sugar substitutes, and these substitutes work the same way; our bodies are really smart, and when we put food in our mouths, it gears up for digestion based on taste. How amazing, right? We put something super fatty in our mouths, start chewing, and based on taste and feel of the food, the digestive system gets ready by stimulating our metabolism and hormonal reactions to break down the fats, calories, and absorb all nutrients. So, when you try to "trick" your body by eating fake fat, it gets revved up to burn lots of calories and fat....but then it's left unable to burn anything because no calories or fat are absorbed. So, it begins to learn that when you eat stuff that tastes and feels like fat, it doesn't need to work or kick into high gear as it perviously would. Now, most people think "no big deal" but it is a big deal because we NEED fat to live, there are fat absorbed vitamins, and they are needed for energy to stimulate your cells/muscles/etc. SO when we eat fats in meat, avocados, milk, etc. our body doesn't efficiently break them down or stimulate our digestive systems as much, because we were like the boy who cried wolf with fats previously and tricked it into getting ready to break down fat and nothing was there, so why would it work efficiently when we really do eat fat? The problem is, it won't react the same way if you use those supplements.
There is no such thing as a free meal! You may feel like you are getting a freebie of eating a "high fat" snack without the fat and calories, but it will catch up with you in the long run, and your body will hold onto the real fat that you eat and try to store it in case you don't eat lots of fat again; the body is always looking out to protect itself, wether you want it to, or not! Plus, the study from Purdue found that rats that ate a "high fat" diet with fat substitutes ate much more food and gained more weight than those that ate a high fat diet with regular fats. Fats (real ones) slow the digestive system, so you fill fuller faster, and it is a longer period before your body feels hungry again, but this doesn't appear to happen with the fat substitutes.
What should I do?
You should eat a healthy diet, and when you do feel like a fatty snack, eat a fatty snack, just don't make it a habit! If you deprive yourself of something, you are going to crave it and eventually cave in and basically binge on it. So, allow yourself a treat every now and again, and remember that if you are truly craving something, your body is usually telling you that you are missing something in your diet. So eat real fats, in small portions, and ditch the substitutes!
I have a personal mantra: If I can't pronounce it, I don't eat it! Maybe more people should adopt that and we wouldn't be faked out by new products....if you want to lose weight, don't eat and excess of fatty foods, do eat fakey foods!
Yours in Good Health