There was a time that low-fat diets were recommended as an effective way to lose weight. Research has shown that foods labelled ‘low-fat’ tend to be higher in sugars and carbohydrates. One of the problems with low-fat diets is the focus on the reduction of ALL fats, not just saturated fats.
A low-calorie diet focuses on restricting the number of calories consumed. A low-fat diet focuses on restricting the amount of fat consumed. Encouraging a person to go for low-fat options, and reducing other fats.
Low-fat diet’s emphasis is on consuming foods that are labelled low-fat. Because this diet encourages consumption of these foods over others, a person could believe it is okay to eat a lot of these ‘low-fat’ foods, thus potentially increasing their intake of artificial sugars.
Reducing calorie intake is of course one of the ways to successfully lose weight. Unfortunately, many low-calorie products contain high amounts of artificial sugars to make up for what is removed from that product. Artificial sugars like Aspartame can contribute to the increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome, and kidney damage.
The problem with restricting the diet in calories, is that it tends to leave the person hungry, leading to eating disorders and low BMIs that can increase the risk of disease.
Secondly, these types of foods tend to be highly processed. Highly processed foods have been linked to increasing the risk of cancer, and can also slow weight loss. It is a general assumption that one can eat as much as they like of low-calorie or low-fat products.
This is simply not the case. The more you eat of those foods, the more you are going to be exposed to the health risks those foods can cause. Your body is rather amazing, craving the nutrients that enhance your body’s natural ability to dig in and get the job done. When an outside influence jumps in to mess with that important role, a domino effect rolls on in. And when one thing is knocked off balance, more will follow.
Low fat diets may even result in a person gaining more weight because of the extra carbohydrates and sugars in low-fat products. The other issue with a low-fat diet is that it encourages restriction of all fats; including good fats like Omega-3 fatty acids.
Reducing the amount of saturated fat is useful, but other good fats can actually help a person lose weight because it keeps a person fuller for longer, and stabilizes blood sugars.
There is another important factor to consider. The essential Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are stored in fatty tissue and the liver. They leap in when the body needs them the most. Fatty acids need to be present in the stomach in order for fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed. These vitamins are also necessary for the health of your skin, bones, hormone production, blood clotting, and the cardiovascular system.
Do any low-fat diets actually work?
The DASH diet and Anti-inflammation diet are two scientifically-based diets that can assist with weight loss. These diets are designed to help specific medical conditions.
Doctors prescribe the Okinawa diet and the CRON-diet that uses calorie restriction to help their patients. However, it is not just about consuming low-calorie foods. It has more of a focus on the amount of food consumed, not just about it being low-calorie.
A rather popular diet at one point was the Zone diet. And some of its principles are certainly sound. Supposedly, if you stick to the regime of the Zone diet it claims that you can burn fat while you are sleeping through the balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
On this diet you get 3 meals and 2 snacks. Those meals consist of low-fat proteins like fish, and the carbohydrates are mainly fruit and vegetables. Accompanied by a small amount of healthy fats like almonds, olive oil, and avocado.
The zone diet requirements have a specific ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat. One of the principles of this diet is a balanced ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat; generally good fats.
The zone diet is designed to keep blood sugars stable while assisting with gradual weight loss. Although the zone diet is relatively low in carbohydrates, it is not labelled under a low-carb diet.
The good thing about the Zone diet is that it emphasizes that ‘fat burns fat’. The message behind this is that eating good fats fires up your fat-burning rate by fuelling your metabolism. Healthy fats also keep you fuller for longer by slowing down the digestion rate, reducing the incidences of cravings and overeating.
Overall, this diet does recommend a balanced ratio of food groups. No food is off limits, just consumed in restricted amounts. It also advocates a good ratio of a range of foods to enable a balanced diet.
Like with most things, it is all about moderation. In order for a person to lose weight, or just to maintain a healthy weight, they need to take on a long-term approach. A healthy weight loss program is designed for gradual weight loss over time to encourage good eating habits that will last a life-time. When we focus on the ‘quick fix’, generally this results in a person falling back into the habits they previously had as it is too difficult to stick to.
Not sure what fats you should be consuming? Why not check out the following video for more info.