(2 minute read)
Are low-fat diets the ones to avoid? I see countless people buying low-fat products to be “healthier” and lose weight, but have you have stopped to think, what have they replaced the fat with to make it still taste good?
The saturated fat myth:
Back in the 1970’s study’s conducted on saturated fat, found there to be a link between cardiovascular disease and saturated fat intake. This absolutely took off with everyone rushing out to fill their cuboards with low-fat products and still today some medical professionals hand this information out despite the fact there have been several studies and a lot of evidence to suggest saturated fat is not our enemy and certainly not the cause of heart disease.
To start off, over the past 30-40 years the low fat diet that has been promoted so heavily has not made a significant dent in the rate of heart disease because we have replaced it with refined carbohydrates and sugar which there has been a lot of evidence to suggest this is causing other health issues such as type 2 diabetes.
What happens when you eat a low-fat diet?
Fat helps you feel satisfied and fuller for longer, when you eat a meal low in fat people tend to replace it with carbohydrates and other starches. This can lead to blood sugar imbalances and insulin spikes throughout the day, these can increase weight gain, hunger cravings and most likely increased calorie intake.
On a low-fat diet you may have a “healthy” breakfast granola for breakfast that may be low fat but it’s packed with sugar, causing huge insulin spikes and hunger by 11am when the low fat "healthy" cereal bar is brought out again packed with sugar. It is a similar story with “zero fat” carbohydrates - pasta, rice, potatoes, they are eaten more often and in larger quantities in an effort to have a low-fat meal, but again this can cause similar blood sugar imbalances.
Fat actually slows down the digestion of sugars and carbohydrates which helps reduce those blood sugar spikes, showing that fat is actually an important aspect of a meal.
Low-fat products tend to have higher sugar content to give them a nicer taste without the fat content, even products like low-fat cream cheese- have a look next time you go to the shops.
Fat is not making you fat- the sugar content of foods is the problem and often a significant cause of weight gain.
When eating fat you want to look for the natural healthy forms of fat such as avocados, nuts, oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines) extra virgin olive oil, seeds (sunflower, pumpkin), and saturated fat from coconut oil, grass-fed organic meat and eggs.
Trans-fats are a different story and I have done another blog on these, make sure you give it a read here.
Trans fats have been associated with increased risk of heart disease, they really are not the fats to be having and are found in fast foods, snack foods and margarine.
Stop worrying about the saturated fat content of foods and start worrying about the sugar content and the processed trans fats in foods that are the real culprits causing health issues.
BSc Sports Science, Women’s Fitness Specialist and Personal Trainer