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Carbs Don’t Make You Fat and Neither Does Fruit!

Carbs Don’t Make You Fat… or Tales From the Philippines

(Beach in Siquijor)

I arrived last week in the Philippines as part of our ongoing trip around the world. Our last stop was Bali, where we stayed for three weeks, and now we’re in the Philippines.

As usual, I’ve been making interesting observations relating to health and “raw” health, that I’ll share with you today. But first, how does it feel to be in the Philippines as compared to Bali? I think ever since the book “Eat, Pray, Love” has come out, and now the movie, people must have been rushing to Bali to visit the town of Ubud.

In the best-selling book you’ve probably heard about, the author describes her post-divorce trip around the world that includes the little town of Ubud. When I visited Bali five years ago, Ubud still felt like a well-kept secret. It was a hippie/spiritual town of artists that was a great jumping point to visit the rest of Bali.

At the time, I hadn’t been anywhere tropical besides Costa Rica and Hawaii, so I fell in love with the vibe of Bali. This year  however, Ubud felt overcrowded and dirtier than ever, with the sacred Monkey Forest filled with trash (much of it coming from the local Balinese).

If you saw the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” let me tell you that it does not look anywhere like the idyllic picture that Hollywood portrayed on screen. When I came to Bali five years ago in the month of December, it was durian season and fruit was everywhere.

I figured that coming back this year during the same month would guarantee me the same experience, but unfortunately there was no durian anywhere to be found. The fruit was rather poor quality as well, very hit and miss depending if the locals picked the fruit ripe or underripe.  Most of the time it was underripe. The pineapple in particular was the worst pineapple I have ever had the unfortunate experience of tasting in a tropical country.  There was also no mangoes or papayas in abundance either.

I still like Bali, but things have changed over the years. It’s now at least twice as as expensive as five years ago, but without any infrastructure being improved. (The internet situation is by far the worst we have encountered anywhere in our trip around the world to remote places).

Raw Food In The Philippines

(Virgin Island near Bohol)

I must say that I had my doubts about the Philippines.

I read about all the corruption of the government and I imagined the usual difficulties of third-world countries would be even worse there.

The Philippines is probably one of the most important countries in the world that most people know the least about.

It’s the largest archipelago of islands on the planet (over 7000 of them), and a country that was previously colonized by the Spaniards and then under the rule of the United States for almost 50 years.

The American influence is quite palpable here, but not in a bad way whatsoever. There’s no anti-American sentiments, since the presence of the US was mostly a positive thing. Almost everybody we meet speaks English quite well, and understands everything we say!

That’s quite a surprise in Asia, after being in Thailand and Bali where you have to speak like a three-year old in broken English to have any chance of being understood.

The worst part is probably traveling between the islands, as you have to take these old ferries that are absolutely terrible. They run late, they’re slow, uncomfortable, and look downright decrepit and scary. But once we got past that, I can’t help feeling that I love this country. It’s like Tahiti on a budget.

It’s slightly more expensive than Thailand, but many islands feel very quiet and are relatively clean. And if you like snorkeling and diving as much as I do, I must say that I’ve never seen as much beautiful coral anywhere in the world as I’ve seen here!

The only problem is trying to be a vegetarian or a vegan. The Filipino diet is definitely not vegetarian-friendly, as every single meal include some type of meat or fish in addition to giant servings of white rice! They don’t eat much vegetables, but the good thing is that the most common dessert in the Philippines is fresh fruit, so you can order a large fruit plate at any restaurant. Lots of fruits are in season right now, including delicious (out of season) mangoes, pineapple, bananas, papaya, watermelon, and imported apples and pears from China.

Why Carbs Don’t Make You Fat

Almost every single best-selling diet book published since the 90s repeats the same thing: eating carbs makes you fat. Sometimes they’ll make a distinction between “good” carbs, like fruit or whole grains, and “bad” carbs like white bread and white rice, but usually it’s the same story. Cut out those evil carbs and you will get skinny.

If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you might have noticed how… um, “large” some of the local Hawaiian residents seem to be. In fact, obesity is a major problem among the local populations of Hawaii. I have a friend living there who attributes it to all the white rice that they’re eating: almost two scoops with every meal 3 times a day!

My own experience traveling the world, in addition to all the research I did, does not support the theory that carbs make you fat — even the so-called “bad” carbs like white rice. One thing that shocked me coming to the Philippines is how much white rice the local people eat, with little else.

I’ve been to places like Thailand where people eat a lot of rice, but it’s nothing compared to the Filipino portions. At the breakfast buffet table, the first thing Filipinos go for is a giant serving of rice that takes up most of their plate. Then after that they grab some of the other stuff, which occupies less space on their plate.

For lunch, the local Filipino guys eat the tallest pile of rice I’ve ever seen, along with smaller portions of meat or fish. I suspect it’s the same scenario for dinner. For dessert, they top it all off with more carbs in the form of fresh fruit, which they seem to devour eagerly. In spite of all this carb consumption, most people are fairly thin.

Any man working outside is downright ripped here in the Philippines. Like everywhere in the world, there are some overweight and obese people, but from my observation these people tend to eat more junk food and drink more soda. The truth is that carbs by themselves don’t make you fat.

Think about it for a second: a cup of rice is only 250 calories. How many cups of rice do you think you can eat in a day? It’s so filling that even if you gorged on rice all day, it would be pretty hard to eat more calories than your body needs. Fruit is even lower in calories, as the average banana contains only 100 calories… how many bananas do you think you can eat?

Research has shown that the only way to gain fat from carbs is through a process called “de novo lipo genesis.” It’s extremely difficult to do that from complex carbs, but relatively easy from refined sugar. So that’s why people drinking a lot of sodas tend to gain weight.

On the other hand, a tablespoon of oil is 120 calories, and it’s quite easy to add extra calories without noticing it by adding some oil to your food like in fried rice, fried noodles and fried meat. Also, the body can store the fat you eat as body fat with almost no effort. It makes sense if you think about it.

How easy is it to make body fat from actual fat, rather than having to convert sugars into fat through a complex chemical process? The truth that the diet industry doesn’t want you to know is that carbs are actually good for you.

A simple look around the world shows that people who eat natural foods and exercise are ripped and healthy, and most of these people eat massive quantities of carbohydrates (often because they are cheap and available year round).

Carbs tend to make you fat only in combination with more fatty foods. If you sit around all day and eat a lot of fatty food, and then top it all off with a bunch of fruit, then it’s possible you’ll start to gain weight.

My theory on this is that the body just burns the easily available sugars from the fruit, and then stores away the fat in your food as body fat. Anyone I have known who eats most fruit (and large amounts of it) with very little fat has never gotten fat. Sometimes they may not be at a truly athletic body fat, and in that case they simply have to cut down on some of the fruit they’re eating and exercise more to shed some of the extra flab.

Of all carbohydrates, fruit is the best. The worst being all types of flours, and of course refined sugar. I’ve often been testing my blood sugar with a glucose monitor and found that eating a lot of fruit keeps my blood sugar very stable, with no dramatic ups and downs. So this flies in the face of people saying “fruit causes blood sugar imbalances”.

The only way you will have problems with fruit sugar, is if you are eating moderate to large quantities of cooked or even raw fat along in your meals. If you have blood sugar problems, yeast issues or candida you need to CUT THE FAT! Cut out all the fat in your diet, eat simple or complex carbohydrates and then work on addressing your health concerns if removing the fat for a few weeks has not given you 100% relief.

To discover how to keep your blood sugar stable on the raw food diet, make sure to get started with the Raw Health Starter Kit.

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(Cambugahay waterfalls, Siquijor)

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.