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Sugar vs. Fat: Understand the Real Villain!

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Sugar vs. Fat: Understand the Real Villain!

3 min read


Drop that marshmallow. And why is that cheese slice out for the dog's feed? The article below will tell why you are getting fat even after so many fat cuts.

Written by

Dr. Vishnu K. R

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At April 6, 2018
Reviewed AtSeptember 29, 2022


Sugar and fat intake are two of the most widely discussed, inquired, and studied arenas of the food and nutrition industry. This is because both of these nutrients comprise significant portions of our diet. And with the rising cases of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and other health issues associated with diet and lifestyle, the most frequently asked question by the people is, "what and how much is safe to have in the daily diet – sugar or fat?"

Gaining extra weight is not a choice anymore. Instead, it happens to everyone following a typical lifestyle. But, getting back in shape and being fit is a choice, and it is imperative for better health and well-being of an individual.

You acquire excess fat with its accumulation in your subcutaneous and visceral spaces. True. But, not all that comes from your diet. Only 20 % is contributed by the diet taken. The body makes the rest from consumed sugars. When you eat excess sugar, your pancreas produces insulin, and the excess sugar is converted to glycogen, which is then stored in the liver. This insulin production also causes fat to get deposited in the adipose tissues. So, who is the real culprit here?

Is It Right to Cut Down on Fat?

Fat has been looked down as a "bad choice" for consumption for several years. However, lately, there has been a shift in this opinion as many scientific studies have claimed fat to be better than carbohydrates or sugars. Though both these nutrients are necessary for optimal growth and development yet, their quantities should be within limits. As per the studies, a low-carbohydrate and a high-fat diet are healthier than a low-fat and a high-carbohydrate diet. The former diet plan helps control blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss due to its minimal effect on blood glucose levels.

Fat has the most intense energy among all nutrients, and it holds double the calories as an equal quantity of sugar. But, this does not indicate putting it at bay altogether. It simply means checking the calories consumption, especially when taking high-fat foods like butter, cheese, and cream. In addition, eggs, cod oils, yogurt, etc., which are rich sources of good fats, should be included in the diet. It is also essential to avoid trans fats, which are unhealthy; and are mostly found in processed foods and readymade food items.

Low-fat food products are also an available healthy option in the market these days, as they affirm to have less calorie content. But, they may not always be necessarily healthy. For instance, yogurt has a low-fat content but high sugar concentration, so it cannot be considered healthy overall. Choosing low-fat products is also dependent on the general diet taken. For example, low-fat dairy options should be chosen for individuals who include many dairy products in their diet.

Completely cutting down on fat is like putting the wrong guy in jail for his friend's mistake. By abandoning fatty food, you are at risk of getting deficits of HDL (high-density lipoprotein), developing lousy skin, poor wound healing, and even bad cardiac outcomes. But, do not get me wrong, you do not need to eat excess fat either. Excess fat consumption automatically conveys extra calorie intake, which causes increased insulin resistance and raised blood sugar levels.

Is Cutting Down on Sugar Needed?

Correct, cutting down those excess sugars from the diet is helpful. Restricting the sugar intake should be a priority for everyone, whether diabetic or not. It helps in keeping the blood sugar levels within the normal range. It is not just the snacks and the sugary items like cakes and cookies that contain sugars; sugar is also a significant part of many other foods such as cereals, fruit juices, smoothies, fruit yogurts, ready-to-eat meals, soups, etc. Sugar has also been claimed to have no nutritional benefits and adds to the consumed calories. Sugar consumption leads to an exponential rise in blood glucose levels; that is why people with diabetes are advised to limit their sugar intake and watch it. The NHS, U.K has recommended men to have less than 70 grams of sugar in a day and women to take below 50 grams of sugar daily.

How to Limit Sugar Consumption?

The following steps can be taken to restrict the amount of sugar in the daily diet:

  • Adopting sugarless chocolates, snacks, and desserts.

  • Abandoning processed foods as they have high sugar content.

  • Including sugar substitutes like honey, molasses, etc., in the food.

  • Using artificial sweeteners in drinks.

  • Avoiding intake of white rice and preferring wheat instead.

  • For individuals over 35 years of age, their milk intake should be limited only to beverages like tea and coffee.

  • Curbing more than 50 % of the current sugar intake and including an appropriate amount of healthy fat.

Nevertheless, holding on to these restrictions becomes problematic if the people around, like friends, family, colleagues, etc., are more into eating sweet and sugary foods. However, such measures are not needed in hypoglycemic individuals or those at risk of developing hypoglycemia. They can even grab sugary snacks like energy drinks (Lucozade) and glucose tablets to prevent or treat hypoglycemia.


It is highly imperative to make the right food choices. And this can be done correctly by acquiring correct information about the food products and the nutrients present in them. For example, both sugar and fats are macronutrients. Yet, only their optimal quantities should be taken, and a slight inclination towards a high-fat and a low-carbohydrate diet is preferable. Also, care should be taken not to fall prey to the different over-the-counter shortcut weight loss methods and have proper health. Adjustments in the diet based on consultation with a registered dietician are always better.

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Should We Reduce Fat Intake?

Saturated fat, a type of dietary fat, can be commonly seen in food like butter, cheese, palm, and coconut oil. Too much fat intake can lead to various health conditions, such as -
- High cholesterol.
- Obesity.
- Heart problems.
- Diabetes.


What Are the Benefits of Reducing Fat Intake?

Reducing the intake of saturated fat can prevent various health conditions, such as the risk of obesity, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. However, keeping a balanced diet is essential instead of cutting out fat altogether.


What Are the Ways of Cutting Down Fat?

A person can cut down their fat intake by following the below-mentioned steps -
- Reading the food labels before buying to check the fat content.
- Consuming low-fat dairy products.
- Using less oil in the diet.
- Eating more green leafy vegetables.
- Regular exercising.


Can a Person Live Without Eating Fat?

Fat is the essential ingredient of a balanced diet. Without fat in the diet, a person cannot lead a healthy life. It can lead to various health problems, such as -
- Eating disorders.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Cystic fibrosis.


What Type of Fat Should Be Avoided?

Saturated and trans fat is considered bad fat. A person should limit the intake of saturated fats and avoid trans fat. They are often found in fast foods, fried food, and other fried snacks such as french fries and fried chicken. These can increase blood cholesterol levels, causing various health problems.


How to Reduce Belly Fat Without Surgery?

There are various ways a person can reduce belly fat without undergoing surgery, which include
- Preparing meals that are rich in fiber. 
- Avoiding fried and street food.
- Exercising daily.
- Having a diet plan.
- Eating fruits and vegetables more.
- Sleeping more and avoiding stress.


How to Burn Fat Faster?

Exercise is the best option to burn excess fat from the body. In addition, cardio is the best option to reduce unwanted fat. It is also known as an aerobic exercise that trains the heart and lungs and is an effective way to enhance fat-burning and weight loss.


How to Know if a Person Has Too Much Fat?

The easiest way to check the fat content in the body is by measuring BMI (body mass index). It is the ratio of weight and height and can be measured by taking weight in kilograms and dividing it by height in meters squared. A reading of more than 30 means that a person is obese and should work on their diet.


How Can a Person Reduce Overeating Sugar?

A person can reduce sugar intake by following some simple steps, which include -
- Cutting off the sugar drinks.
- Avoid eating desserts such as cakes, pies, doughnuts, and ice cream.
- Avoid sauces with sugar content.
- Avoiding canned foods and reading the sugar content of the food products before buying.
- Avoid sugary breakfast foods.
- Eating more proteins instead of sugar.
- Getting enough sleep


Which Sugar Is Healthy?

Some naturally available sugar can be a great option compared to refined sugar. These have low calories and fructose and have the same taste as refined sugar.
- Stevia.
- Erythritol.
- Xylitol.
- Yacon syrup.
- Monk fruit sweetener.


What Counteracts Excess Sugar in the body?

Food rich in protein and fibers helps detoxify sugar in the body. These are slow-digesting food that helps stabilize the blood sugar in the body. Other than that, apples, nut butter, hard-boiled eggs, pistachios, hummus, and vegetables are also good options to neutralize the sugar in the body.


What Happens if a Person Stops Eating Sugar?

After reducing the sugar intake, a person can start to feel changes in the body. For example, the blood pressure gets lower or normal, and insulin and fat levels begin to get normal. But all these things depend upon the sugar intake previously, and balancing the diet is also essential.


Is Quitting Sugar Useful?

Reducing sugar intake has many health benefits. This will help reduce the risk of various harmful conditions such as obesity, heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
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Dr. Vishnu K. R
Dr. Vishnu K. R

General Practitioner


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