TRANS FAT: HIDDEN HEALTH BUSTER

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Here's a shocker — trans fat can make you fat

By Jordana Brown

November 27, 2009

FLEXONLINE.COM

With processed foods comprising the bulk of American diets these days, we increasingly run the risk of consuming foods that contain hidden health busters. Trans fat is one such casualty of "modern" nutrition.

In the 1970s, nutritionists concluded that because fat contains more calories per gram than any other nutrient, it must be the cause of the dawning obesity epidemic. But besides leading thousands of nutritionists to offer deleterious advice to thousands of clients, the low-fat diet craze also sparked the propagation of one of the most malicious compounds ever to appear on supermarket shelves.

A product of the vegetable oil companies' misguided attempts to marry their product's healthier mono and polyunsaturated fats with butter's solidity and spreadability, trans fats are created when hydrogen molecules are added to oil.

When low-fat diets took off (a trend that has yet to truly die), people fled butter while flocking to margarine. But we now know that trans fats are dangerous. Not only do they contribute to heart disease, diabetes and liver damage, but they also can obscure muscle in at least two ways.

The first thing trans fats do is (no surprise) make you fat. A study published in the July 2007 issue of the journal Obesity fed one group of monkeys a diet that contained trans fats and another group a diet that contained healthy fats. Both groups' diets were calorie controlled, so that neither group should have gained weight. Yet, the healthy fat group increased in bodyweight by about 2 percent, while the trans fat group increased by over 7 percent, with a large percentage of that weight going straight to their bellies.

In addition to just hiding your muscles under a layer of fat, eating a lot of trans fats can actually affect how your muscles grow by decreasing amino acid uptake, as well as compromising the integrity of the muscle cell membrane. This can lead to a blunting in muscle protein synthesis (i.e., growth) and an increase in muscle breakdown.

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