The WHOLE Truth about Low Fat Diets

“Eat less saturated fat” has been the take home message from the US government for the last 40 years. While Americans have dutifully reduced caloric intake from saturated fat since the 1970’s, the obesity rate has doubled, diabetes has tripled, and heart disease is still the country’s biggest killer. It seems that eating less fat has made us fatter than ever. Whether you’re interested in improving health and longevity, or just wanting to look good naked, it would behoove you to know why low-fat diets are NOT the answer – nor have they ever been.

 

We Want the Truth!

Truth #1: We’ve gotten fatter eating low-fat and no-fat “food” products. It seems that removing fat from food hasn’t necessarily made them nonfattening. In fact, carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cereal, pastry’s, etc.) also make us fat, and many low and non-fat food products have very high levels of sugars to improve the taste.

Truth #2: The truth is that WE ARE FAT! Fat is a large part of what our bodies are made of. Our brains and our nerves are mainly fat and it is the building blocks of our cell membranes and hormones.

Truth #3: We need to eat certain fats to lose fat. Whether it be to help regulate hormones, stabilize blood sugar, stimulate metabolism, maintain satiety and mood, and optimize cognitive function, dietary fat consumption is essential.

Numerous studies have consistently found little relation between the percentage of calories from fat and risks of breast cancer, colon cancer, or coronary heart disease. What researcher’s have found is that focusing on reducing specific types of dietary “bad” fats may be more important than simply avoiding fat altogether.

What are “Bad” Fats?

Any highly processed fats could be considered unworthy of consuming. These fats include:

  • Refined and hydrogenated nut and seed oils (soy, sunflower, safflower, canola, cotton seed, vegetable, corn, peanut)
  • Animal meats that are fed processed grains including wheat, corn and soy.
  • Dairy products that have been pasteurized and homogenized (heated to kill nutrients and processed to break down the fat molecules)
  • Nuts and seeds that have been roasted in any of the above oils

Why? - The highly processed oils, otherwise known as “trans fats”, are major contributors to the higher than normal levels of inflammatory fats (Omega-6’s) in our Westernized diet. Whereas, we once had a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio of Omega’s 6’s: Omega 3’s, it’s now more like 25: 1. That’s not good. When the ratios of Omega-6’s to Omega-3’s are increased, they can be a major contributor to cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and fertility – and other things where inflammation plays a role, which is everything!

What are “Good” Fats?

It’s important to distinguish amongst the quality of food being consumed. You should go out of your way to find:

  • Grass-fed, free-range, hormone free, wild caught, cage-free, humanely raised and organic animal products.
  • Fresh, raw and organic raw nuts and seeds and avocado
  • Olive oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil, palm oil

Why? – These healthy fats will contribute to increasing the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids (essential fats) in the body, thereby decreasing all of the inflammatory processes from which disease becomes prevalent. Animals fed commercially processed grains become sick and store more toxins in their body fat. These unhealthy animal meats are one of the many factors responsible for disease and should be avoided.

In addition to eating good fats, it’s imperative to understand that when you restrict fats, you inevitably eat more carbohydrates. For most of us, that can be a recipe for disaster, in regards to our ability to stabilize the hormones that keep us healthy and lean.

Check out the 2 Sample Menu’s to understand why low-fat doesn’t always mean healthy.

Eat Fat, Lose Fat Menu vs. Low-Fat Menu

Sample Eat Fat Menu

Breakfast Omelette – 3 cage free Omega-3 enriched eggs

Spinach/mushrooms/tomato/onion – 2 cups cooked

Sauteed in 1 tbs butter

Lunch Wild caught Salmon (grilled) – 6oz

Grilled Zucchini/onion/peppers – 2 cups cooked

Olive oil – 2 tbs

Snack Celery sticks – 2 cups

Almond butter – 2 tbs

Dinner Organic Rotisserie Chicken – Dark Meat (6oz)

Asparagus – 12 spears

Butter – 1 tbs

Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds – 15

Calories: 1500 kcal

Fat: 86g

Carbohydrate: 76g

Protein: 111g

Sample Low-fat Menu

Breakfast Cheerios – 1.5 cups

Skim Milk – 1 cup

Apple – medium w/ peel

Lunch Whole Wheat Bread – 2 slices

Turkey Breast (white meat) – 2oz

Reduced fat Mayonnaise – 1 tbs

Orange – 1 medium

Snack Banana – 1 medium
Dinner Halibut (broiled) – 5 oz

Brown rice (steamed) – 1.5 cups

Broccoli – 1 stalk

Side Salad (garden w/ tomato) – small

Thousand island dressing (reduced calorie) – 2 tbs

Frozen Yogurt (Fat-Free) – 1 cup

Calories: 1500

Fat: 18g

Carbohydrate: 251g

Protein: 78g

As you can see from the menu comparison, a calorie is not just a calorie. In fact, it’s clear that sticking to a low-fat diet is an easy way to completely derail your attempts at fat loss via excessive carbohydrate consumption. Eating a higher fat “real-food” diet is a better way to get in more protein and healthy fats as well as get more nutritional value from your food. Additionally,you can eat a lot more food without the high calorie consequences.

Just remember, it’s not the fat that makes us fat and sick, but the processed carbohydrates. If you learn to stick to eating foods that our ancestors ate and avoid processed grains and sugars, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier heart, a leaner body and a better quality of life.

 

Ben Brown is the owner of Body Systems Healing & Performance in Scottsdale. He specializes in corrective exercise and weight-loss programs as well as individualized supplement and nutrition plans. For more info, contact Ben atben@bodysystemsaz.com or visit www.bodysystemsaz.com.