Sunday, 26 December 2010

26th December 2010.

Trans Fats  and healthy eating.

        Trans fats, also known as hydrogenated fats and saturated fats, are a manufactured solid fat used in food manufacturing. It is created by introducing hydrogen atoms under pressure into the liquid oil or fat, either partially or completely saturating with hydrogen, creating a solid fat which increases shelf life and boosts taste, and also reduces costs. Baked products need a solid fat product to suspend other solids at room temperature. Unfortunately trans fats stay solid at body temperature, so are suspended in the body, and because of this, are difficult to break down. It’s been likened to injecting candle wax straight into the bloodstream. This in turn increases LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream, reducing HDL (good) cholesterol. The result when you eat saturated fats and the body can’t use the calories in them or break them down as waste is that they are dumped on the waistline.
         Banned in many countries, it is still widely used in the UK, and found in imported foods, especially in biscuits and pastries, but not limited to them. The label will say whether the product contains trans fats, but as a basic rule, anything pre prepared for human consumption will contain added rubbish used to either reduce costs, increase flavours or increase shelf life. Ready meals contain excess fat, salt, sugar or other things not good for the body. Put it this way, if you run a car on cheap petrol, with water and rubbish suspended in it, then the car will not run properly. The body is the same. Eat rubbish and you’ll feel lethargic, your immune system will not work properly, and you’ll gain weight. Getting up off the couch and going for a walk will seem like a chore.
       Unfortunately for the general public, the government had an option to ban trans fats altogether, but have decided to let the food industry self regulate, and it doesn’t have to show any amounts on the packaging. It doesn’t want food prices to soar, so turns a blind eye. This probably means that if a packaging states that a product has fat, including some saturated fat, it’s probably a larger portion worded nicely.
         So, my first piece of advice. Avoid anything pre prepared, frozen ready meals, pies, pastries, sauces, and tinned goods; if someone has manufactured it, then it has been made as cheaply as possible to last the longest time with little regard to health. Trans fats are still present in many, many products. A quick glance at the label in any food store will show widespread use. And virtually all fast food contains them. Even fish and chip shops using “healthy vegetable oil” can say this because hydrogenated fats are made from vegetable oil. I avoid them as much as possible, although I admit it is impossible to cut them out altogether.  Even if you are fit, if the bloodstream is full of fat, then there’s less room for oxygen. 
         It’s no coincidence that since the discovery of trans fats in the early 20th century, and the widespread use of them since the 1970’s, the rise of obesity in this country runs at an alarmingly parallel rate. 

       As I write, England have overtaken the Aussies 1st innings total of 98 all out. And if they win this test they retain the ashes. Nice.

        I’ve already bought a new diary for 2011. One thing I’ll be doing over the new year is writing down everything I eat and drink. It’s so easy to think you’ve reduced your calorific intake to below necessary daily levels, but then when weight goes up, wonder where it’s all going wrong! Be honest, write everything down, cup of tea, 80 cals, slice of toast with butter, 150 cals. Biscuit, 100 cals, they all add up. If you write them down, then it increases the guilty feeling, so you end up thinking, maybe I’ll not have that chocolate bar, it’s taking up 250 calories of my daily allowance. There are websites which show calorific and fat levels of every foodstuff, although I got a pocket sized book from Tesco for under 4 quid, the pocket calorie counter by Carolyn Humphries, which lists alphabetically, product, portion size, calories, carbs, fat content and fibre content. Any good bookstore should have a similar type book cheaply available.
         Men should have 2500 calories a day, women 1900, partly because women have a different metabolism. If you are exercising about 30 minutes a day, sticking to these rates, then you will lose weight. Avoiding white bread, processed sugar, fatty foods and other rubbish will make you feel better.
        One other thing. Don't weigh yourself every day. Don't bother with scales at all. It's how you feel, not overall weight. if you are exercising properly for the first time in ages, then you'll develop taut muscle, which is heavier and less bulky than fat, so weight can stay the same whilst fat is reducing. And, as an added bonus, every 3lb of muscle you add needs 250 calories a day just to survive.
The fitter you are, the more calories you burn! 


  1. Well done Richard for flagging this up. Most people are not aware of the dangers of saturated fat. Keep up the good bloggs, finding yours really interesting

  2. It's a personal vendetta of mine Dave, This is the biggest cause of obesity and heart disease in the UK by far, yet the government sit back and do nothing, scared by the threat of the food manufacturers to hike up prices and put up inflation if they don't get to do what they like.