T Nation

Sat. Fats vs Sugars vs Dirty Carbs?


I apologise in advance if this is a dumb question,

ive asked a fair few people, even a couple of personal trainers that I work with, and all have given me different and/or vague answeres

im currently doing a bit of a focusing on fat loss diet while maintaing muscle, recent one off changes in my line of work have meant I have put on about 5kg, and loss of mass, and my training has gone from training 6 times per week, cardio 4 times per week, to no excercise but im back into my old routine,

my question is, im trying to be as careful as i can in my diet, to have a calorie deficit, eat clean, eat sufficient protein, reduce alcohol, eat small and many meals etc. etc. Im still trying to work out, at present im naturally avoiding saturated fats, so basically anything deep fried , little sugars so trying not to add sugar to anything, so anything sweet is out the window, and to minimise my white breads, pasta, rice etc. im trying to work out which order or to what extent are each of them bad and why? i mean there is no point completely avoiding something that is going to make little difference while not avoiding something that is really bad for fat loss.

sorry for the long question

thanks everyone


Saturated fat is the least of your worries. Limiting it may even lead to health problems.

If you use 5-10g of sugar or the equivalent in your cooking to increase the taste of meals, it is not the main problem, rather when one consumes many times that by eating a single cookie or other crap.


There. Do that more.


i agree but also count calories


oh and i really wouldnt worry about saturated fat




Thanks everyone, appreciate your responses

Must admit, very surprised after reading the article,

Obviously everything in moderation is good,

ive been leaving off the skin of chicken and steaks ,

however, if saturated fats are good, then why would deep fried foods be bad IF they werent coated in flour/bread crumbs etc?

so a good old processed meat sausage/salami, usually has lots of white parts (sat fats) is GREAT for a healthy diet?

I m just trying to get my head around it!


If you want to know the truth, saturated fats aren't good for you despite what the aforementioned article says. It is not the effects of sat fats on cholesterol but rather the direct effect of sat fats on tissues that is of most concern. Excess sat fats compromise the normal functioning of many organs and tissues.

Overall, its just about being sensible with what you eat and setting yourself up for consistency. Like Peter Orban said, the sugar you add to make a meal taste nice is nothing compared to that found in junk.


apparently you are more credible than John Meadows?


deep fried foods are considered bad bc it is usually done with shitty oils that are exposed to high heat oxidizing fatty acids blah blah blah

to combat burning the oil while deep frying people try to use a lower temperature and longer cooking time allowing more oil to seep into the food


i think you're missing the point.... moderation... if your diet is lacking saturated fats then yes, fatty meats can be used to fill the gap

just eat what a lot of BBers like to use to get their fats... fish oil, EVOO, flax seed, natty PB, almonds etc


To touch on what MAF14 has mentioned, deep frying is usually done with hydrogenated vegetable oils or at least high concentration omega6 oils which are susceptible to becoming hydrogenated. These fats are the bad type of trans fat which are very dangerous (there are also naturally occurring ones found mainly in ruminants and dairy which are thought to be beneficial, so when you see trans fat in say milk or a steak don't worry about this).

If you are cooking yourself and want to approximate the frying, you could use something like almond flour or even crushed nuts as a substitute for breading and use a little butter or olive oil in a pan. The issue with deep frying is more that whatever you are cooking is soaked with the fat. If you want to make fries, cut up potatoes into fry sized pieces and brush with 10-20g butter, oven 350, 45-60 min, flip every 20 min and brush the little butter in the pan over the fries.

Processed meat is high in salt and most have nitrates and nitrites added as preservatives/curing agents. Also the saturated fat content is very high. This is different than say having lean ground beef where it is 15% fat raw and maybe 5% is lost in cooking, leaving you with twice as much protein as fat. If you find a good butcher, they may have some decent sausages of their own manufacture without too much fat and the other crap, once a week as a treat in moderation will not kill you. Same goes for bacon, most is crap, but a quality butcher once again will have their own, definitely more expensive, but if you look at what you pay for the protein in it, it will be the same cost, once per week as a treat is how you should look at this. If you just have to have some deli meat once in a while, enjoy it, but the quality bacon and sausage is a better bet.

The amount of saturated fat in meat is at best 50% of the total fat, such as in beef, most of the rest is monounsaturated, in chicken the SAT is 30%, bacon is 32%, pork center loin 33%. So as you can see the saturated fat in meat is not a problem ratio-wise. A bigger problem with fat is the poor sources in the diet, the average North American takes in almost 20% of calories from crappy vegetable oils.

So MAF14's recommendation for fish oil, olive oil, flax seed (needs to be ground/milled or you can't absorb), and nuts is excellent, he missed avocado, but we will let that slide.

As for your saturated intake, it can be 25-50% of you fat intake as long as you get enough MONO, omega3 (flax and fish oil, also in salmon and other fatty fish) and some omega6 (chicken, pork, nuts) and keep carbohydrate intake within reason and mostly from fruit, veggies, and quality starches like oats, rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.

There is some more fat info in my posts (particularly the third one I made, see the part about fatty acid carbon chain lengths) in this thread:

more info on fats than anyone wants to know:

If you have any questions, shoot. If have a quick question and don't want to post, PM me. If you want anything from a short consult, dietary assessment, and meal plan to a full blown nutrition program, I do that too, but for $.


I think some things should be cleared up, because this looks murky at best...

Should you get access to high quality meats (free range, grass fed, etc) then you will reduce the overall fat content greatly, not to mention improving your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio. I purchase organic free-range Kosher chicken which tastes so fucking good it's insane. I am not Jewish, but I do like the idea that the animal is examined for disease and overall health before it is sold. Costs a bit more, but I am getting it at $7/lb which isn't so bad.

I think this idea alone will make a huge difference, because grass fed animals are genuinely leaner than grain-fed, so your overall fat content drops by default.

Go with natural fats, like previously mentioned, like EVOO, nuts, seeds, fish oil, stuff like that and you should be golden.

Also like you mentioned, cut down on the shit food (you know what I mean by this) and go with more natural food, you should be a beast in no time.



I don't want to start a shit storm, but grass fed ground is 12-13% fat, compared to lean ground (15%), there is at best twice the ALA at a whopping .071g per 100g of raw meat and .017g of combined EPA/DPA/DHA. There is so little polyunsaturated fat in beef that it is pointless to look at it. The rest of nutrients are pretty much exactly the same.

Now I am not claiming that all ground non-grass fed meat is equal, I have shopped in the States and have seen some of the horrific stuff sold, but if one goes to a decent butcher or a better supermarket, decent non-grass fed can be found. The price will be somewhere between. In my opinion the biggest difference between decent beef and grass fed is the taste, there is so little omega3 and CLA that it does not matter. It really depends on one's budget and the availability as price for grass fed varies widely.

I agree with you on the chickens, I get Halal non-medicated, hormone-free chicken (that's what my butcher has), the taste is obviously better, funny thing is price is only 10% more than the supermarket. As for the fat, once again, there is not that significant a difference. Now with eggs, the omega3 ones are definitely better, and there are some high end ones available on the market that have 125mg of DHA in each egg, yet still not organic. This is one place where it may be worthwhile due to the relative cheapness of eggs compared to meat.

A caveat is I am on Vancouver Island and our food is quite high quality, even our milk tastes better than most organic and the beef is mostly grass fed, but not advertised as such. It really depends on where one is (the OP has not given us a location to go by) and how and where one shops.


thanks everyone, the info provided has been GREAT! so I guess the processed stuff is no good, I thought so,

at present, im just trying to lose the excess fat as quick as I can while maintaining muscle mass through training and cardio.

as for diet, as previously mentioned,

im trying to avoid bread rice pasta, sugars and minimise sat fats?

in terms of breaking the rules, was wondering which does more damage, sugars or sat fats or simple carbs (eg your white breads/past etc). I am obviously eating quite well in my other meals

im just trying to get a gauge of how bad each one is, say I had a pasta dish for dinner? how badly is this likely to set me back


This is the truth! I grew up there, and miss the good eats. Sounds dumb, but even the water tastes better. I can find good quality, grass fed or free range meats here, but it's expensive and a long drive to find a vendor. The crap they sell in grocery stores is over-priced and I'm skeptical of grass fed claims. I understand that all beef is grass fed, until just before slaughter when the cows are fattened up on grains.


Count calories, lift heavy, hit a protein target of 1 - 1.2 g/lb body weight, ingest the majority of your calories after an intense workout and don't worry if you throw in a cookie, pasta or other sugary treat during this time.


It depends on how much you eat and how you react to those foodstuffs. For some people excess SAT fat is bad, particularly when ingested with sugar or fast digesting carbs. Others will be sensitive to excess fructose intake. And finally there are far more people out there who are intolerant to wheat but don't know it (I am not even considering those who are outright allergic - here too, response varies in severity).

I would say that rice will be the least 'damaging' in general if you are looking for a carb-up for the physiological or psychological benefit and have no preference for certain crap food. Other than that, I would say pick a time every week or two to eat whatever you want, just keep it reasonable, preferably after a workout, but don't miss your animal protein or green veggies (I mean broccoli, spinach and the like, not accent veggies like cucumber and celery). That way you get your nutrition AND your cheat.

I am told they no longer put LSD in the water. :slight_smile:

Its funny, the ground lean at the butcher tastes better than the expensive grass-fed from the store (from a decent company to boot), better than the stuff they sell at the store as lean ground, and the stuff in 2.5Kg tubes from the mainland is tough as crap. The thing is, I am certain that the fat % is a couple points lower from the butcher's meat, and it costs what tubes go for at regular price, 70% of the normal lean ground and half the cost or less compared to the grass-fed (which seems no leaner than the store ground).

And the milk, its even stamped ISLAND MILK on the jug. Same jug as elsewhere, but the milk inside is better than anything I've had other than out of my grandpa's cows. Once bought normal milk by accident, never again.


yah^^^ this is more important than bad fats, sugars or cookies etc


Why do people constantly use the terms "bad fats", "bad carbs" etc? This doesn't seem to really be something that can be solidified in real world application. Let me preface what I'm about to say with this: I'm not implying to throw "proper" nutrition out the window (I'm talking nutrient rich, antioxidant dense food etc)...and I'm not advocating to eat tons of processed food. Also, this is all in regards to a CALORIC DEFICIT.

What I am saying is this: Firstly count your calories as accurately as possible, secondly account for protein as your first macro.. 1-1.5g lb/bodyweight. Now in terms of your energy macros..I hate to get flamed for this..but it doesn't matter that much in the long term PHYSIQUE wise (not health wise) what ratio of energy macros you use to get the remainder of your caloric needs. And..it doesn't matter much what kind of carbs or fats you use in regards to physique goals to get the remainder of your macro needs. This is assuming you STAY in caloric deficit. This does not mean you are MAXIMIZING your absolute fat loss potential or should I say..weight loss potential (IMO much of carb cutting etc results in glycogen depletion and water shedding)..but you WILL keep losing in the long term if you stay in daily deficit.

I've done this all as an experiment on my body...I notice very little (if any) difference in my physique if I get 200g of carbs by way of ALL complex source..or by way of capn crunch. OR split up 50/50 or split up 75/25. I can say this with certainty for my body. What I will say is..you are better off in someways going with PREDOMINANTLY complex, whole food sources for carbohydrates for these reasons (and in my opinion of course)...1. Things like oats and rice fill me up more than say a cookie. 2. Health wise, I feel whole food, complex choices are typically more nutrient dense and therefore better for overall health. But, overall health and the way your physique looks do not always match up. Therefore, don't stress SO much about your sources of energy macros as long as you are SURE to stay within your caloric budget AND stay within your personal macros (accounting for protein first). IF it gives you a bit more mental relief and is easier to stay within your budget and macros by adding in some "bad" carbs as you call them..then do so..I still advice to try to get most of your calories from complex sources. But..in theory..to me atleast, it doesn't matter if I eat 3 bowls of capn crunch or 3 bowls of oats..physique wise.


Just noticed this...
I would hope this is a typo and you don't really intend to eat the skin from beef, if so, you are pretty hardcore!