Why Low-Fat Diets Don’t Work

With one out of every three adults being obese ( 35.7% ) and approximately 12.5 million ( 17% ) children and adolescents between age 2 – 19, it’s hard to determine exactly how in the last 22 years we single handedly as a nation got this way. Over eating, lack of physical activity, and poor parenting might have a tiny role in this, but that role is not significant enough. In 1945 after WWII ended, heart disease began to rise tremendously. In 1970, to lower this risk, a committee led by Senator George McGovern issued a report to advise Americans to start eating less fat. Unfortunately, the report wrongly singled out saturated fats as the culprit in our diet and claimed that it was solely responsible for all of our problems (not putting into account calories). This was how the “low-fat” movement began – and the obesity epidemic.

Manufacturers sprang into action to produce “low-fat” and “no-fat” foods. The goal was to take all the saturated fats out of everything. Most things labeled “low-fat” were now loaded with additives, added salt, sugar and lacked the fiber we need. Companies invented things like high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils (to replace saturated fat) to improve the flavor and texture of their products. Adding sweetness to products seemed like the right thing to do, and were they wrong! Before we knew it, ingredients like high fructose corn syrup were in hundreds, if not thousands of food products. Coincidentally, at the same time that the manufactures were tweaking all these products, Americans started to eat more. When sugars and fat are combined, you’ll find yourself having increased cravings for these foods, your brain chemistry starts going crazy, and you can literally eat until your pant buttons are about to pop off. There’s a little switch in your head that gets turned off and doesn’t let you know when you are full. Sound familiar?

“Low-fat” foods are lower in fat, but they are often not lower in anything else. If you took a “normal” item and “low-fat” item and compared them, there is not that big of a difference in calories, sugar, sodium and carbohydrates at all. In most cases, there might only be a 10 – 20 calorie difference, just as much sugar and salt, and more big named ingredients added that we can’t pronounce. For someone who has diabetes, high blood pressure or is at risk for heart disease, consuming too much of these “low-fat” products can be a health disaster waiting to happen. In a study conducted by Dr. Jules Hirsch, a physician in chief emeritus at Rockefeller University in New York City, the main focus was to find out if low-fat diets played an important role in the decrease of cancers and heart disease. The study cost $415 million, involved 49,000 women between the ages of 50 – 79 and took place over eight years. In the end, those assigned to the low-fat diet had the same rate of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart attacks and strokes as those who were able to eat whatever they normally would.

Although I do believe in a “naturally lower-fat diet” that is full of lean meats, complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and low-fat dairy, I do not believe in a “low-fat” diet full of processed, manufactured foods and snacks. In most cases, it’s going to be better on your waist line to opt for full fat healthy options, exercise proper portion control and stay within your daily and meal caloric range. Even “low-fat/low-sugar” condiments, crackers, salad dressings, ice cream and even whole grain bread (depending on the brands) all contain these processed ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup.

While not all fats are created equal, our bodies do need the right amounts of “healthy” fats to properly function and metabolize calories. As women, our hormones, skin, hair and nails also depend on it. Fat is the thing that keeps us satiated (more full) longer.

Here’s a list of the essential fats that we do need:

Poly-unsaturated fats can be found in olives, olive oil, nuts, peanut oil, canola oil and avocados.

Mono-unsaturated fats can be found in sesame, safflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils.

Both of these fats have been shown to reduce levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase levels of HDL (good cholesterol).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be found in cold water fish (like salmon and tuna), soy, flax seed, and walnuts.

Remember that when looking for lower fat options, you should consider all parts of the nutrition table. Check out those ingredients, calorie count, carbohydrate count, and the amount of sodium and sugar. These things are very important to know when trying to lose weight and earning your healthy life.

If you’re looking to bring your health and goals to life, check out my highly successful Program, The Official 7 Day Jumpstart, here at www.ChristinasFitness.com/7days¬†