A Low Fat Diet Could Kill You

A Low Fat Diet Could Kill You

September 16, 2018   13 Comments

I usually don’t create such alarmist titles but I want to get my point across. Are you paying attention now?

It takes a couple of steps for a low fat diet to kill you but it has been shown that people who cut back on fats live far shorter lives than those eating them.

Those low fat eaters replaced their calories with carbohydrates which led them to have too much sugar in their system - which led to an increase risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

I know, right? I thought fat was bad for you! Patricia asked me this question on my birthday:

If you do not consume enough fat, can that cause hair loss?

The short answer is yes. Fats provide the body with essential fatty acids which are required to build and maintain cell membranes which is important to skin, hair, brain and more. Fats are important for healthy hormone levels, metabolism, mood, vitamin absorption and SATIETY.

Want to feel full? Eat some fat (protein also helps with the feeling of satiety).

You NEED fat. The question is how much and what kind of fat.

This is one of those discussions that hasn’t been resolved. When we look at our diet from a macronutrient level -you can see here that you have carbohydrates, protein, and fats - how much from each group should you eat?

Hopefully, you all know that you are supposed to avoid trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil). They have been phased out of processed foods in the last five years.

You are also supposed to avoid saturated fats - which you find in animal products such as milk, beef, cheese, baked goods, candy, and ice cream. But, they won’t kill you like trans fats but they could increase your cholesterol level (leading to heart disease which will kill you).

The fat you want to be eating more of is plant fat such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil. You also need to eat Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that are found in salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds tuna, and sardines.

But, again, how much?

I’m going to punt for a second here and say two things. Most of us:

1. Eat too much (portion size!)
2. Eat too much processed sugar.

I feel like if you can get a handle on how many calories you eat per day (who cares about macronutrients) and cut down on the processed sugar (candy, baked goods, chocolate, ice cream, donuts, cookies) - you would be much better off.

As far as fat - 30% GOOD fat, 30% carbs, 40% protein might be good for weight loss. If you need 1500 calories per day, 450 calories should be fat, 450 carbohydrates, and 600 calories protein.

But don’t quote me on it because there is no clear consensus on the best macronutrient ratios. Obviously, there is a range (25%-35% fat) which is going to work for different people. I would love to give you a silver bullet but I don't have one. It is up to you to do the hard work of figuring out what works for you.

One of the best books out there on fat and how it is important in weight loss (and management) is David Ludwig’s “Always Hungry”. The premise is that eating more healthy fat will lead to weight loss as well as feeling good and being far less hungry.

I wrote a review a couple of years ago Always Hungry and I still think it is one of the best books about the role of fat in our diet.

Do you eat a lot of fat? Do you worry about it? Are you still convinced that “low fat” is the way to go?

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Always Hungry?: Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently

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13 Comments:

I believe " low fat" is the way to go for diabetics, and people who want to avoid diabetes. Dr. Neal Bernard's book, "Reversing diabetes" promotes a "low fat" diet. He says that animal fat covers our cells, preventing the glucose from getting into our cells, for needed energy. However, I agree that we need GOOD fat in our diets, in moderation. I eat avocados, nuts, seeds, and virgin, cold pressed olive oil.

on September 16, 2018

I eat a plant based diet and get my fats from 1/2 an avocado a day. Never felt better. In the 90's I did a low carb and ended up losing weight and my gallbladder. Not a healthy diet.

on September 16, 2018

I agree on the good fats. My son is a Chiropractor and has said many times that your body needs good fats and protein to stay satisfied and to lose weight. Of course everything is in moderation. Making good choices will lead to weight loss if that is what you are striving for. Thanks for the reminder on good fats!

on September 16, 2018

Thank you for bringing this up. I am 57 and raised during the "fat is bad" era. It took a long time for me to get over that and change my thinking. My body feels best when I'm eating plenty of good fats along with good carbs and lean proteins.

on September 16, 2018

Interesting this happened with hubby. Ten years ago he had a stint placed in a blocked artery and he became a low fat ninja. Three months ago he was diagnosed with diabetes and now he doesn't want to eat carbs or fat and he is seriously losing weight (and doesn't need to). He has had to put some fat back into his diet or he would starve. I'm going to get that book, thanks.

on September 16, 2018

I think "whole food plant-based" is the way to go for an optimum long and healthy life. Eating WFPB, including daily nuts and seeds (for fat) and teensy amounts of EVOO, provides all the fat and protein our bodies need. I'm about 90% there. My son is 95% [38yo] eats like a horse and has maintained his initial weight loss of about 10-15 lbs. But that was a side benefit he didn't need or expect. He was aiming for heart health as heart disease is the No 1 cause of death in the U.S. Additionally, he was free of ulcerative colitis flare-ups, [now going on second] year, has improved energy and overall feels great. Drs Greger, Barnard, Esselstyne, etal, are major resources to the evidence-based science behind this lifestyle. It's information for those on a quest for health wherever you might be on your personal journey.

on September 16, 2018

Have you ever watched the documentary Forks Over Knives?
It is amazing and a real eye opener!

on September 16, 2018

I also follow a Whole Foods plant based diet in keeping with the advice of Dr. Greger, Dr. Barnard, Dr. Esselstyne, Dr. Mills and many others. I get my fat primarily from Whole Foods such as avocado, coconut and nuts and I tend not to use added oils even those that are touted as "healthy". I try to avoid any processed foods. This seems to be working for me. It helps that I love to cook but you don’t need to be a cook to follow this way of eating.

on September 16, 2018

need to lower high cholesetrol and triglycerides

on September 16, 2018

My husband and I have been following Dr. Ludwig’s book for almost 3 months and love it. It’s actually a sustainable way of eating and the only one I have ever been able to maintain. I haven’t had sugar in 3 months without using willpower. I just don’t care about it because I am satisfied. For the first time in years I don’t obsess about weight. It’s amazing. I have thyroid issues and can’t lose weight to save my life and I am losing - just very slowly. The weight is falling off of my husband. I can’t say enough good thing about this way of eating.

on September 16, 2018

I completely agree. Just read the book Eat Fat, Get Thin along with my neighbor whose husband completely reversed his pre-diabetic blood work using the information in that book and others. Looking back at my mom who died of Alzheimer's, with zero family history of any dementia, I'm convinced she caused it by staying away from ALL fat for decades. Thank you, Snack-Girl, for this alert!!

on September 16, 2018

Two other books worth looking into: "The Obesity Code: Unlocking the secrets of weight loss" by Dr Jason Fung, and "The Big Fat Surprise: why butter, meat and cheese belong in a healthy diet" by Nina Teicholtz. Both examine the studies (and politics) that erroneously made fat a bad word and overlooked (or neglected) the harm done by sugar.

on September 16, 2018

I did the McDougal Weight Loss plan. No fats. I did lose weight but the lack of healthy fats took its toll on my mind. Our minds need fat to be healthy & function. I had no idea until I was eating very little fat. I now strive to eat wholesome foods. More balance. I have Hashimoto’s & diet is crucial to my health.

on September 16, 2018


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