How come so many people are being overweight? We’ve learned we should eat low fat food. So how come we still get fat? In this article, I will dive into exactly what is happening here and what science is showing us.

We’ll start with the basics first to get aligned. If you know this already, jump to the subject ‘Fat’.

Important to know, there are 3 so-called ‘Macro Nutrients’ we can have in our food: Carbohydrates (Carbs), Fat and Protein. It is a combination of these three in what you eat, but there’s often 1 that is dominating that type of food. So if you eat 100% of something, there’s a 3x balance of % between carbs, protein and fat. It always adds up to 100.


Examples of Carbs are: Bread (any dough), potatoes, rice and pasta. Carbohydrates are sugars that come in two types. Complex and Simple. Important to know is that table sugar (sucrose) has 2 main components: Glucose and fructose.
And that’s where our body starts using it as fuel. Glucose gets absorbed in the bloodstream where Insulin can take it out and put it in cells as ‘fuel’, or when there’s enough fuel, store it in the fat cells for later use (our reserves for when feasting turns into fasting). The fructose goes straight to the liver to be processed there, where around 50% gets also turned into glucose.


Protein is our ‘building blocks’. If you’re working out a lot to build muscle, you might have a protein shake to boost the amount of protein to build your muscle. In some cases (when there’s too much protein) our body can also use protein to transfer it into glucose so there’s the fuel again. We need protein to keep building and renewing cells. Too much proteïne and fat combined can create several problems like kidney malfunction.
I want to zoom in a bit on the differences between fat and carbs, since they mostly make up our fuel for our daily activities, and specifically what happens when we combine them in our food (and that happens a lot!). So this is where the fun starts. Because there are a lot of misconceptions around all that we need to fix.


Fat is a bit more complicated than carbs. The fact is we need fat. We can live without carbs, but we need fat. Our brain is over 65% made out of fat. Cells are for 50% made out of saturated fat. So we need fat, but we don’t need carbs to survive.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat carbs at all, because we can process a healthy amount of it very well, besides, even in a healthy vegetable like broccoli there are carbs. Carbs have their benefits, just not in the amounts that we’re eating them in our standard suggested diets these days.

I am also saying that Fat isn’t as bad as you might have learned.

Though, there is a distinction in fats to make. There are good fats and there are bad fats. But it’s probably not what you think. Because most fats are actually good for us. The problem is that these bad fats are in a lot of (cheap and easy) food.

Back to basic: Natural processed Fat can be categorized into 2 types. Unsaturated and saturated fat.

The big misconception is that saturated fat is supposedly bad, but that’s not the case at all. Like I said, our cells are actually made for 50% of this type of fat.

The myth we must clear here, is that it raises your ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and of course that sounds like a bad thing. It’s true that LDL cholesterol rises when you eat saturated fat. But the ‘bad’ part comes from a more nuanced process.
LDL Cholesterol has 7 subclasses we can divide it in. And there we see something interesting happening. Subclass 1 and 2 are still ‘good’ cholesterol. 3 to 7 is what we don’t want too much of, and therefore classifies LDL often as the ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Funny thing is, that saturated fat only raises the Subclasses 1 and 2 of LDL – the subclasses that you need. Not the subclasses 3 to 7. Besides, cholesterol itself is not bad. Our body makes most of it itself. It’s crucial to live. HDL and LDL are both good to have. High levels of LDL subclasses 3 to 7 are not what we want though.

So, saturated fat makes LDL rise, but only in subsections 1 and 2. Nothing wrong there. Where it does goes wrong, and becomes a health risk is what’s coming next.

Studies show if you combine saturated fat with carbohydrates, something interesting happens with your LDL cholesterol. It becomes bad, BECAUSE of the carbs. All of a sudden the subclasses 3, 4 and 5 rises.

And when that happens, the cholesterol gets ‘oxidated’, where it can’t be recognized anymore by the liver (the final destination for cholesterol) and thus doesn’t know anymore where to go. It ends up and becomes part of what will glock your blood vessels. And THAT is what causes a bug risk for CVD and heart attacks.

So it’s the carbs that ‘trigger’ the wrong parts of LDL and damage the cholesterol so it can’t do it’s job properly.

Saturated fat combined with carbs, are bad. Not because of the fat, but because of the carbs.

So which one should you decrease from your diet? The stuff that makes up 50% of your cells (and is essential for hormone production amongst others)? Or the carbs, where we actually can live without and that are responsible to make the LDL get oxidated?

Bad fats

So what are the bad fats then if Saturated fat isn’t? The bad fats are the so-called Transfats and the poly-unsaturated fat. It’s a type of fat that’s produced in a labs or factories to create fat fro. Seeds. we often see these types of fat in products like Margarine or dairy products. But also fats made from corn, soy, canola, cottonseed and the fats most (cheap) restaurants use to fry food are considered bad fats and you shouldn’t eat those. They will raise and oxidate your LDL even without the carbohydrates AND lower your HDL cholesterol. So stay away from these, please.

The mono-saturated and -unsaturated fats are perfectly good to eat (more unsaturated than saturated). Our body needs fat. Fat like olive oil, organic fats like from nuts and avocados, or fats from grass feed animals and fatty fish like salmon.
To be compete, omega 3 and omega 6 are also poly unsaturated fat but are needed though. They are the exception (salmon has the good poly unsaturated fat).

When you start eating more fat and fewer carbs, you will shift your energy source. From using the glucose out of carbs as your primary fuel, you will start using so-called Ketone bodies. Chemicals are created by your liver once it gets the fat out of the cells to process. Those ketone bodies are even a far more efficient fuel than glucose. Because it comes from your ‘reserves’. So it needs to be more efficient, to hold on longer. You will have fewer insulin spikes, a more stable blood sugar level, be less hungry, fewer cravings, and your energy level is optimal. Without needing any energy drink.

When you eat fewer carbs, you will also get less glucose in your blood (and less insulin produced) so it will not store the glucose as fat. It has no use to store fat at one side and burn fat at the other, that just doesn’t make sense.

If you get this, you will also understand that when you are fasting (not eating for longer than 12 hours), your body is out of glucose too and has to start burning the fat.

That is why Intermittent fasting is so successful when wanting to lose body fat. Not eating = no new glucose = fat burning.

To summarize:

Fat AND carbs together (in particular the saturated fat and carbs), is a huge health risk. The carbs will take care of fat-storing (so NO fat is burned – also not the fat from the meal), and it will oxidate your LDL cholesterol causing the no.1 diseases like Cardio Vascular Disease and Heart failure. Not even to go into obesity, Alzheimer’s and different types of cancers that are directly linked to carb intake.

This is why McDonald’s food is bad. This is why pizza is bad. That’s why bread with butter is bad. But don’t blame the butter for what bread does.

Instead of having a Big Mac menu, bake a hamburger with cheese and bacon, season it with herbs for increased taste and combine it with some grilled veggies. Tastes just as good, but there are low carbs. The bun for the burgers, the ketchup or other sauces and the fries combined with your high-fat food is what causes the problems.

Cutting carbs have been shown to improve longevity in so many studies that it still surprises me so few people know this.

I hope this article gave you a bit more insight in the cooperation and roles carbs and fat play in our metabolism and overall health.

If you want to learn more in-depth about this and hear about the studies I referred to, watch this presentation by Dr. Paul Mason from the Univesity of Sidney

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