The low fat diet plan debate is a big one! Surely everything we have been told for the last 60 years sends fat automatically into the naughty corner?
Unfortunately the answer is somewhat complicated and has been blurred even further by the immense profits to be made by slapping around low fat labels. Current research is systematically toppling traditional nutritional beliefs and to understand why this is happening we need to understand fats, calories and how our bodies deal with the energy we put in it.
To begin it is essential to understand that there are good fats, bad fats, essential fats and factory fats, otherwise known as; monounsaturated fats, saturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and hydrogenated fats. The key to a healthy balanced diet and successful, sustainable weight management is to know which to avoid, which to moderate and which to enjoy guiltlessly.
Choosing a low fat diet plan is beneficial for a number of reasons, but there is a definite distinction between a diet low in fat and ‘low fat’ diet foods. Saturated fat has long been public enemy number 1, but it seems this bad boy may be quite friendly to our hearts and hips after all. Recent studies indicate that saturated fat actually has no clear influence on coronary heart disease or stroke.
Hydrogenated vegetable oils however are to be avoided at all costs. Originally developed to reduce our saturated fat intake these new artificial, low calorie, full flavour ‘factory fats’ or Trans-fats are now believed to be far more dangerous to our health. Not only can they reduce levels of good cholesterol, but also increase levels of bad cholesterol.
They have been closely linked with
increasing rates of cardiovascular disease and can actually remove some
essential fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K that rely upon fat for
If you're leaning toward a low fat diet plan to lose weight your total calorie input needs to be reduced overall and your energy output increased. Fat in general has a higher calorie density than carbohydrates and proteins (9kal/g compared to 4kal/g) but our bodies still process, use or store it in the same manner.
Fat alone will not
automatically make you gain weight, too many calories and not enough exercise will.
It is suggested that fats make up 30% of daily calorie requirements, partly is
due to the fact some fats such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty
acids are essential for healthy physiological function and cannot be produced
by the body.
Fats are generally tasty enhancing the flavour and mouth feel of foods. When removed from products manufacturers compensate by substituting with sugars, salt and hydrogenated fats. Often low-fat or fat-free products end up being quite calorie dense in the form of processed sugars and starches. So while technically low or no fat, these products may still be contributing significantly to weight problems and in fact be more detrimental to your health than their full fat more natural counterparts.
Click here for a sample of low fat low cholesterol diets.
There are many ways to enjoy a healthy flavoursome low fat diet, but overall the behaviour of consuming too much calorie dense food should be addressed instead of trying to find artificial ways to ‘cheat’ and eat the same fatty foods minus the guilt. Choose a diet naturally low in added fats, particularly avoid processed, fried, baked or packaged foods, trim meat before cooking and select lean cuts.
A healthy balanced diet should include moderate amounts of naturally occurring fats from fish, meat, poultry, fresh avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut and dairy products, including the occasional bit of butter, a drizzle of olive oil and nice juicy steak.
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