Tag Archives: fat

Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat?

To continue with my blog trend topic of food and health, I decided that I wanted to tackle something that is most likely on everyone’s mind with Thanksgiving being right around the corner—weight gain. But what foods actually make you gain weight, and why? Is eating two plates of mashed potatoes and corn just as bad as eating two plates of turkey and ham? Should I just avoid everything at the table because it is too “fattening?” Personally, I don’t want to be stressed this holiday season, especially when it comes to something so enjoyable like food, so I want to explore what foods that have been actually tested have a significant effect on both weight gain and weight loss.

 According to an article on NPR released this past September, a study has been published that adds evidence to the argument that cutting back on carbs, not fat can lead to more weight loss. Researchers from Tulane University conducted a randomized experimental study that tracked two groups of dieters for one year. The 148 participants consisted of men and women, ages ranging from their early 20s to mid-70s, and included a mix of African-Americans and Caucasians. I understood the intention of the testers of trying to get a broad perspective of how these different diets many vary from one another, but I feel as if there could have been more blocking involved in order to gain better clarity of the effects of the diet on different characteristics. For example, testers could have blocked participants by age because as we grow older, our body systems begin to slow including our metabolisms. Also, I thought it was mildly confusing because each group was meant to be the other group’s control (those who decreased their carb intake kept their fat intake the same and vice versa).

The results showed that the low-carb group, which reduced their carb consumption to about 28% of their daily calories, lost almost three times as much weight as the low-fat dieters, who received about 40 to 45% of their calories from carbs. For lunch and dinner, the low-carb dieters ate lots of vegetables, salads and protein, including fish, chicken and some red meat. They had generous portions of healthy fats such as olive oils, canola and other plant-based oils. The low-carb group lost an average of 12 pounds even thought they were taking in the same amount of calories as the low-fat diet. This doesn’t prove that having a diet with a lower carb intake will reduce one’s weight, but it suggest that there is a strong correlation between the two. I found this very insightful because I have heard many arguments claiming that the most important part was the amount of calories that are taken in rather than the ratio of foods that make up one’s caloric intake. This experiment also rules out the possibility of reverse causation since they did not pick up the diet because they lost the weight. There is the possibility that chanced played a part in this experiment, but I highly doubt it due to the nature of the testing.

There is a common misconception that foods that are high in fat will make you fat, which is easy enough to understand. However, according to WebMD, there are two different types of fats that had different effects on the body: saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats, like the ones found in vegetable oils, have been found to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Saturated fats do the exact opposite: raise cholesterol, clog arteries, and increase the risk for heart disease. Both of these mentioned risks are relative since there isn’t established beforehand how likely it is for someone to contract heart disease, since it is also different for everyone due to lifestyle and genetic disposition. Carbs are believed to make us fat because it over stimulates the release of insulin, which directs more calories into storage in fat cells, and provides little nutritional value, making us feel unsatisfied after we are done consuming.

All together, I believe this was a well-done experiment that provided some light to an area that was previously misunderstood. So is it sensible for the common person to change to a low-carb diet? Not necessarily. Each person has a unique metabolism that is affected differently by different foods. People need to consider their own health and lifestyle before taking on a diet change. If you have suffered from chronic health issues regarding weight, this may be something to consider, but if you don’t have any apparent problems with your health or weight this change might not be worth the time and energy necessary.





The Freshman 15 and Eating Disorders


College is full of many things. Excitement. Opportunities. Experiences. You know, all of the good stuff! However, college is also filled with even “more important” things… food and beer! What college student does not love to grab a quick burger or fattening milkshake before heading to class or to their dorms? C’mon, let’s get real, we have all been guilty of it. With the amount of unlimited food and the amount of parties at college, students begin to stop losing track of their eating habits. With that being said, students eventually begin to gain mass amounts of weight during their first year at college, which is known as the Freshman 15.

According to Walden Behavioral Care, “The freshman fifteen can be attributed to stress, lack of sleep, late nights, frequent snacking, lack of exercise and alcohol intake.” I have known way too many people who have fallen into this trap and it could lead to even more serious issues other than obesity. Some people get so concerned with the Freshman 15 or are so upset about gaining the Freshman 15 that they begin serious eating disorders.

Some people are so worried about their figure and body image that they completely stop eating (anorexia) or throw up their food (bulimia) to avoid gaining weight or to lose the weight that they gained from the Freshman 15. As you can see, this has become a major problem that has been arising in colleges across the globe.

Let’s take a look at this chart. According to this study, 33% of freshman at this university said that they have gained weight during their freshman year. So, more than 1 out of every 4 people at that university has gained weight. The Freshman 15 is real and is way too common. Since the percentage is decently high, it is easier to see why so many teenagers fear and/or gain the Freshman 15. It is charts like these which could lead an innocent 18 year old male or female to stop eating.


From personal experience, I have already seen signs of my own friends here at Penn State who could be in danger of falling into either the Freshman 15 trap or the eating disorder trap. Some signs that I have seen is that some of my friends tell me how they have only eaten a piece of bread or a granola bar the whole entire day. I have also seen girls throwing up at parties and later on finding out that they have not eaten a single thing that entire day, which is a big reason why someone would throw up from drinking. It is scary.

To learn how to eat healthy and fight off the Freshman 15, please go to this link to help yourself, a friend, an acquaintance, a classmate, or anyone out. We need to stop this horrible trend in college.

So… What do you think should be done to eliminate the Freshman 15 and the eating disorders that can be created because of it?

TLHS chart 1

Works Cited
“Fear of the Freshman 15 Can Lead to Eating Disorders – The Recovery Village.” The Recovery Village. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.
“The Freshman 15.” Walden Behavioral Care The Freshman 15 Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.
“No “Freshman 15″” Atlanta Center for Eating Disorders. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.