This is a topic that people often get confused about when beginning a fat loss journey and a very common question I get. To answer it correctly first we need to understand what fat is and how it’s gained and lost. Simply put, fat is just a place for your body to store excess energy that has been consumed over time, it is a survival mechanic, think about a bear that is about to hibernate. It packs on as much fat as possible to make sure it can survive a long winter with minimal food using its fats stores to feed its body.
Now understanding that we can look at how to manipulate the amount of body fat we choose to carry, because just like the bear if fat can be consistently and deliberately put on, it can be consistently and deliberately taken off. This is done by limiting the amount of energy we consume through food and upping the amount of energy we output through movement whether it be deliberate like exercise or incidental like having a physical job. Now things are slightly more challenging for us as we have more complex lives than a bear with more things to draw us away from this simple recipe of energy in vs energy out, but I think it’s a great analogy to reflect how simple the process actually is and that it only gets complicated when the outside forces in our lives put us in a position were sticking to this process becomes hard.
So, when it comes to food and fat loss, yes, some foods have a higher energy content then others but that does not mean they are more fattening, it just means you would have to eat less of them to over consume your daily energy requirements. This does not mean the food is fattening or “bad” it just means higher energy foods should be consumed in limited amounts and less often. Like if you are keeping a budget and you buy something you really value that’s expensive it doesn’t mean it’s bad or the budget is blown it just means you have made room in it to spend more on something you really value.
So, to answer the question no, there is no such thing as a fattening food. Getting fatter is simply the process of over consuming energy on a consistent basis over an extended period of time, which can be done using any food. Now are we more likely to eat 3 whole iceberg lettuces or an entire bag of Maltesers? I know which one I’m going for after a big day! So pretty quickly we can see that our lifestyle factors and things that we chose to have around us lead us down a tough path.
But it is not the foods’ fault! In this example we are between a rock and hard place as we’ve had a big day and have a really easy choice in front of us between an enjoyable food and some leaves.
I would say if we had a more enjoyable meal to choose from or a plan to stick to we might make a better choice. Pretty quickly we can see its less about that one particular “bad” or energy dense food and more about the situation we have created for ourselves where the odds are stacked against us. So, if you want to make better food decisions start by putting things in place to make those decisions easier and rely less on will power alone.