I’ve written about Low Fat Diet trends before, but I think this topic warrants a second visit.
When did the low fat diet become trendy?
For many decades now, the health authorities have told everyone to eat a low-fat diet. Doctors, nutritionists, dietitians…they claim that a diet low in fat will keep people from getting fat.
At the time the low-fat dietary guidelines were conceived (1977), people thought that saturated fat was a significant cause of heart disease. Saturated fats are the fats that are solid at room temperature (yes, like coconut…THE health trend of this decade). Here is some great information about saturated (and other) fats…that may or may not be interesting to you. I guess it depends on your family history and current health / medical recommendations.
Basically, low fat has been the cornerstone of healthy eating for several years.
Why are we getting fat while eating low fat?
With the recommendation of staying away from fats, many people and organizations have also moved away from meat, eggs, and full-fat dairy products (high fat) and moved towards grains, legumes, fruits (low fat, high carb)…and vegetables (always a good choice).
These low-fat guidelines were based on weak evidence, and many respected scientists objected. They believed that moving to a low-fat diet could have unforeseen consequences.
Recently, the “science” behind these ideas have been disproven. Many high quality research studies show that there is, in fact, no association between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. If you REALLY want to see the science behind these studies, this is a good place to start:
Here’s another study summary:
Chances are, you won’t read (or even click) those links, but yes, they are official studies that say…there isn’t much correlation between fats and heart disease.
AND…of course, there are still studies and such that claim that saturated fats ARE harmful. Here’s one that leans toward limiting fats: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Saturated-Fats_UCM_301110_Article.jsp
So…what does that mean for you?
Low fat or high fat diet?
I’ve seen pictures of my family in 1977: there were some heavy people. There were some “big” people. However, it was nowhere near what we see today. When did the obesity epidemic start? Around 1977.
Here’s the bottom line:
When you stop eating “fats”, you often stop eating proteins. Proteins are important. More on that next time.
When you eat low-fat foods, they are made to taste better with sugars and artificial flavors.
If you stop eating animal fats, you often replace that with vegetable oils…these are thought to be much worse for your overall health. Processed seed- and vegetable oils ar unhealthy, loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids and trans fats that can contribute to disease. And, they are often GMO…also not good.
Moderation is key!
I know that you know that already. Eating pounds of butter is terrible. Eating pounds of grapes is also terrible. Eating a diet that you can’t maintain is terrible. Eating Fettuccine Alfredo (2 cups) and a slice of garlic bread at 54 grams of fat isn’t going to kill you. Eating that every day is terrible. Taco Bell’s Supreme Chicken Fajita and Bell Grande Nachos: 64 grams of fat. That might be too much even on a good day. Terrible. But, we still do it.
Eat vegetables, eat some fruit, eat some whole grains…everything in moderation!
Side note: Trans fats resemble saturated fat in consistency and shelf life, but the chemical composition is still very different. While saturated fats are possibly harmless, trans fats are highly toxic and should be avoided.