For a long time now the marketing companies and diet authors have been trying to push home the fact that a low fat diet is a good diet and will lead you to weight loss. Sometimes you simply can’t avoid the message that fat is evil and should be avoided at all costs if you want to stay fit and healthy. While you are out shopping in the supermarket, whole sections of shelves will be dedicated to low fat options.
I suppose if you are reading this article you are the type of person who has, or who desires to have a lean, toned, and on the whole, fat free body. More than likely you will have the understanding that if you reduce your fat intake then you will store less fat in your body, thus over time you will reduce your body fat content. It does seem like a sensible approach doesn’t it? Surely if you take on board less fat through the meals that you eat, then that would mean you lose fat from your body mass right?
The fact is that general diets which advocate restricting the general intake of fat as part of your regular meals are at the least ineffective and in a lot of circumstances they actually have the opposite effect to that which you are trying to achieve, i.e. weight loss. Let me give you a few good reasons why this is the case.
- Low fat diets have a higher sugar content. If you are following a calorie controlled low fat diet, then you will naturally have to replace the calories you lose through the restriction of fat with other things. This will normally mean replacing the fatty items with things like fruit, bread and pasta. While these things are lower in fat, they actually have quite a high sugar content. Your body uses sugar as a fuel but it is processed and used pretty much immediately. If you are not in a position to use up this fuel, then your body will simply store it as fat anyway.
- Low fat diets make you feel hungry and increase the probability of cravings. The fat you get from your normal meals or dietary fat, plays a big part in making you feel full after each meal. Obviously, if you feel fuller after your meals the chances of you craving a snack between meals is reduced. Also, if you replace dietary fat with foods which contain more sugar then your blood sugar levels will fluctuate much more than normal. This means you will have less energy during the day and can also lead to snack craving as well.
- Low fat diets reduce levels of testosterone. One of your aims is likely to be an increase in lean muscle tissue and testosterone has a big part to play in this process. Any increase in lean muscle tissue you achieve has an effect on fat loss. Testosterone also has an impact on your ability to burn fat so it stands to reason that a reduction of dietary fat, because it has a negative impact on testosterone levels isn’t a good thing.
- Low fat diets make you store more fat. We have discussed this phenomonon in our previous two myths. Fat is one of the measures that the body uses to determine if there is a plentiful supply of food available. If you reduce your dietary fat intake, then your body reacts by slowing down the metabolism, burning fat more slowly and breaking down lean muscle tissue.
There are some guidelines you should stick to with regard to dietary fat intake. At no time should you reduce this to below 10% and an ideal target for dietary fat content is 15 to 20%.
The key to this whole message is the type of fat you consume.
You may have heard of saturated and unsaturated fat. As a general rule, saturated fat intake should be kept to a minimum. These types of fats are generally solid at room temperature and so exist in things like meat and cheese etc. Those types of fat that exist as a liquid at room temperature are the ones you should make sure you keep at a healthy level. These are the unsaturated fats and can be found in many foods such as fish, avocado, nuts, seed oild and olive oil among many others.