What are some low fat diet foods
4 advantages and 8 disadvantages of low-fat diet + low-fat meals
In your childhood you were also taught to avoid fat as much as possible. Eating low-fat has been touted as the healthiest of all options. It wasn't long before fat became the epitome of unhealthy food.
For decades, health officials have recommended low-fat diets and low-fat meals as a means of leading a healthy lifestyle. However, the low-carbohydrate diet has been gaining popularity for several years.
Even today, when you go to the doctor or a dietician, you may be advised to eat a low-fat diet. Perhaps for the reason that your own body cannot process fat well.
Would you like to follow a low-fat diet? Then you should know the information in this article well. You will learn exactly what low-fat dishes contain and you will also get an example of a daily plan in your hands.
You will also learn about the following:
- Whether to follow a fat-free or low-fat diet.
- What to and shouldn't eat in low-fat dishes.
- Daily schedule with different choices for low-fat dishes.
- 8 Disadvantages Why You Shouldn't Eat Low Fat
- And of course much more ...
What are low fat meals?
A low fat diet is a low fat diet that limits the daily intake of fat from animal and vegetable sources, as well as industrial trans fats. On a standard diet, the daily caloric intake from fat is 30% or less. So if you stick to a diet of e.g. 2000 kcal per day, no more than 600 calories may be covered by fat, which corresponds to about 65 grams of fat per day (1 gram of fat provides 9 calories).
The aim of a low-fat diet is that no more than 10% of daily calories are covered by saturated fat and no more than 1% by trans fats. For this reason, it is advisable in a low-fat diet to replace saturated fatty acids with mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids as far as possible.
Fat is a concentrated form of energy - it takes little fat to get a lot of calories. Fat contains more than twice the calories compared to the same amount of carbohydrates or protein.
The most extreme low-fat diets are mostly based on plant foods. The low-fat diet limits the intake of animal products such as eggs, meat and whole milk (source). But it also restricts the consumption of high-fat plant-based foods that are generally classified as quite healthy, such as olive oil, nuts or avocados.
Low carbohydrate diets are very popular today. From the ketogenic diet to more moderate low-carb diets. In contrast, low-fat diets were much more popular in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The reason for this was the assumption that saturated fat would increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
These assumptions were largely based on a study from the 1960s: the Keys Study (source). The Ancel Keys study ensured that cholesterol and saturated fat were equated with cardiovascular disease. The low fat diet was born!
Ancel Keys wasn't the only one who advocated the idea that high-fat foods can lead to heart problems ...
Here is a timeline from the last century:
Even the ancient Egyptians adhered to a low-fat diet consisting of wheat, grapes, honey and berries (source).
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What can and shouldn't you eat on a low-fat diet?
Would you like to know what you can and should not eat on a low-fat diet? Here is a list of foods that are allowed or should be avoided if one is to adopt such a diet.
What to eat on a low-fat diet (little or no fat and / or healthy food):
- Healthy fats (in moderation) : Olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds, ghee, organic butter, natural (unprocessed) meat.
- Protein and fiber: Fish, skinless chicken, eggs, mushrooms, tofu, soy products, lentils, brown beans, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas.
- Vegetables and fruit: Carrots, broccoli, cabbage, beetroot, onions, radishes, lettuce, kale, cauliflower, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkin, avocado, apples, pineapples, peaches, plums, oranges, tangerines, limes.
- Dairy products (in moderation): low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, cottage cheese.
- Beverages: Water, homemade curdled milk, green tea, herbal tea, black coffee, freshly squeezed fruit juice or green smoothies.
- Herbs and spices: Oregano, garlic, coriander, ginger, turmeric, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, sage, basil.
Foods to Avoid (High Fat and / or Unhealthy Food):
- Refined Products: Croissants, cookies, pastries, sandwiches, waffles, tarts, chips, fried potatoes, roasted peanuts, frozen meals, fried snacks, ice cream.
- Processed meat and sausages: Sausages, cold cuts, hot dogs, pate, foie gras.
- Dairy products: Whole milk, yoghurt full cream setting, quark full cream setting, chocolate, cream cheese, most types of hard cheese.
- Drinks and soups: Alcoholic drinks, creamy soups, milk drinks, sugary drinks.
- Most of the oil and shortening (this includes butter, palm oil, margarine, etc.)
In order to drastically reduce the amount of fat in the diet, it is advisable to use oils and fat only sparingly. One should eat a lot of grain products, vegetables and fruits. And only eat low-fat dairy, lean meat, fish, poultry, beans, and peas to get essential nutrients without increasing your (saturated) fat intake.
What Are the Benefits of a Low Fat Diet?
The effects of low-fat diets have been extensively studied for various diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and multiple sclerosis.
Here is a summary of the main benefits of a low-fat diet for the human body:
# 1: Reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems
Studies have shown that low-fat meals can improve various important risk factors for heart problems:
A study from 2014, with 198 patients with heart problems, came to quite striking results. Out of 177 patients on a plant-based and low-fat diet, only 1 patient suffered a stroke (source). Of the 21 patients who did not follow the low-fat diet, 13 developed arrhythmias (heart problems).
In short, a strict low-fat diet can reduce various risk factors for heart problems, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. This can also reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
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# 2: Leads to an improvement in type 2 diabetes
Several studies have shown that a very low-fat and high-carbohydrate diet can lead to an improvement in diabetics (type 2 diabetes) (source, source, source).
Diabetics, for example, are often better off with a low-fat rice diet. More than half of the patients were able to lower their fasting blood sugar levels with this diet (source). Even more interesting, of the 72 patients who were dependent on insulin injections prior to the study, 42 were able to stop or at least reduce their insulin levels afterwards.
Another study concluded that following a low-fat diet is even more effective for those diabetics who are not yet dependent on daily insulin injections (source).
# 3: Weight loss if you are overweight
People who are overweight can also benefit from a low-fat diet. In a study of 106 severely overweight people, a low-fat rice diet showed impressive results (source).
The participants all lost at least 45 kg in body weight. The average weight loss was a whopping 63.9 kg! A group of 44 patients even reached their normal weight! This study also shows that people who are very overweight can lose weight quickly even without hospital admissions and gastric bypass surgery.
# 4: multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a Autoimmune diseaseaffecting the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve. People with MS can also benefit from low-fat meals.
Began in 1948 Dr. Roy Swank Treat MS patients with a diet that he the Swank Diet called. In his research, he followed 150 MS patients over a period of 50 years.
The results showed that a strictly low-fat diet can delay progressive MS (source, source). After 34 years, ’only‘ 31% of the patients who had adhered to the diet died. Of the patients who did not follow his recommendations, 80% had died (source).
Eat fat-free or low-fat?
If you are looking for a fat-free diet, then unfortunately I have to disappoint you. There is no such thing as a 'fat-free diet'. Almost all foods contain fat. And that's a good thing, because the body cannot exist without fat.
The human body always needs some fat to function properly. Fats are an indispensable part of our diet. They are an important source of energy and we also need them to be able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
If you want to eat less fat, you should stick to a low-fat diet, in which animal fats in particular, such as meat and dairy products, are eliminated from the diet. By reducing the fat in the diet, one can save a lot of calories and thus lose weight.
An example of a (almost) low-fat diet is the South Beach Diet:
How Many Calories on a Low Fat Diet?
Following a low-fat diet to lose weight means limiting the amount of fat you eat to around 20% (or less) of your daily caloric intake. On a diet with 1200 calories, this would be about 26 grams of fat per day (the equivalent of 240 calories). This means that you have to consume almost 1000 calories from protein and carbohydrates.
Daily low fat diet plan
Are you still looking for inspiration to give the low-fat diet a try? The low-fat dishes in the following daily schedule contain less than 25% calories from fat.
A typical low-fat diet scheme looks something like this:
Breakfast # 1:
- 1 cup of skimmed milk (vegetarians / vegans can substitute non-fat soy milk here)
- 1 orange
- 2 tablespoons of raisins
Breakfast # 2: chia smoothie
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 half cup of frozen berries
- 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ banana
- 200 grams of low-fat yogurt
- Stevia to taste
Lunch # 1: Quinoa Black Bean Salad
- ½ cup of cooked quinoa
- ½ cup cooked beans (drained and chilled)
- ½ red bell pepper (cut into pieces)
- 1 tomato (without seeds and cut into pieces)
- Juice of ½ lime mixed with ½ teaspoon of caraway seeds and 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Lunch # 2: sandwich
- 2 slices of whole wheat bread
- 1 teaspoon of mustard
- ½ tomato sliced (without seeds)
- 1 tablespoon of fat-free mayonnaise
- 4 slices of turkey fillet
Dinner # 1: burrito mix
- ½ cup brown rice (not cooked)
- 1 cup of cooked black beans
- 3 tablespoons of coriander
- 2 tablespoons of salsa
- 2 finely chopped green onions
- ¼ avocado (cut into pieces)
- Juice of ½ lime (mix all ingredients in a bowl and squeeze out the lime juice)
Dinner # 2: hamburger
- 100 grams of lean beef
- 1 whole wheat roll
- Spread made from two tablespoons of fat-free mayonnaise
- ½ onion (cut into pieces)
- ½ tomato (sliced)
- ¼ lettuce
- ½ teaspoon soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon of sugar
8 disadvantages why you shouldn't opt for a low-fat diet
We have been told for decades that it is best to avoid high-fat foods such as coconut oil, eggs, meat, and dairy products.
Since the nutrition guidelines were compiled by the health authorities in the 1980s, they have primarily focused on avoiding or reducing fat in the diet.
And although you hear more and more about healthy fats in the media these days (and the ketogenic diet is becoming increasingly popular too), fat is still demonized. This is why most people consume a lot of carbohydrates instead of fat. They also eat a lot of carbohydrate-rich foods with added sugar.
Carbohydrates are still recommended as the basis of a healthy diet, but the truth is that today we consume far too many carbohydrates (and especially those of the bad type), which among other things leads to obesity and other health problems (source, source , Source).
It should be noted, however, that not all fat is created the same way and that not all types of fat affect the body in the same way. While some types of fat are just completely harmful (such as trans fats), other natural fats, on the other hand, have positive properties for our body. Eliminating fat from our diet can quickly make us feel tired, moody, and constantly hungry.
Therefore, a low-fat diet is not recommended for several reasons:
Disadvantage # 1: The body needs fat
Eliminating too much fat from your diet can have serious health consequences. Mental health problems such as depression and also a vitamin deficiency can occur. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, which means that the body stores them in adipose tissue or in the liver.
The intestines need fat from food to properly absorb these vitamins. These vitamins are badly needed for health; for skin, bones and the cardiovascular system.
Disadvantage # 2: There are healthy fats too
Omega-3 fatty acids from (fatty) fish, flaxseed and walnuts, for example, have many health benefits. Other 'good fats' contain monounsaturated fatty acids such as those found in extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds.
Interestingly, it also seems that saturated fatty acids, such as those found in butter, cream and other animal sources, are not as harmful as previously thought.
It has always been said of saturated fatty acids that they raise the ’bad’ LDL cholesterol and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. However, new studies from 2019 cast this more and more into doubt (source). Science will have to investigate this more closely in the years to come.
Disadvantage # 3: Low-carb diets lead to more weight loss
Although you can of course lose weight with a low-fat diet, it is usually not the best choice. Low-carbohydrate diets are usually more effective.
What does science say about these two different diet types:
- A low-carbohydrate diet appears to be more conducive to weight loss, with unhealthy LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels decreasing, while good HDL cholesterol increasing (source).
- A low carbohydrate diet can be better when it comes to losing weight and reducing cardiovascular problems (source, source).
- Low-fat meals (less than 15% of total calories per day) can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome in adults (source).
- A low-fat diet can lower good HDL cholesterol over a period of time (source).
However, other research shows that one diet is no better than the other and that diets are best chosen based on personal needs, physical condition, age, weight, etc. (source, source).
Compared to a low-fat diet, participants on a low-carbohydrate diet usually lost more weight and also achieved significantly more health improvements such as a significant reduction in triglyceride levels (fat in the blood) (source, source, source).
The exact reason for this effect is not entirely clear, but it probably stems from the fact that low-carb diets often focus on unprocessed, natural foods like vegetables, eggs, meat, and fish. Avoid junk food because it is full of refined carbohydrates and added sugars. In addition, low-carbohydrate diets based on unprocessed foods are usually richer in fiber and protein than low-fat diets.
Disadvantage # 4: Hormonal changes
Eating enough healthy fats is one of the most important things one should do to naturally balance hormones.
For example, cholesterol plays an indispensable role in cell membranes and hormones. Certain fats, including cholesterol, also act as antioxidants and are the precursors of some important molecules and neurotransmitters such as vitamin D (which actually acts more like a hormone in the body than a vitamin) and other hormones such as testosterone and estrogen .
Another health risk is that eating little fat can increase the risk of infertility and other hormonal problems in women. Research has shown that a low-fat diet can lead to menstrual problems and pregnancy complications.
A 2007 study found that frequent consumption of low-fat dairy products can increase the risk of infertility, while consumption of high-fat dairy products can reduce that risk (source).
Disadvantage # 5: The risk of overeating
Diets with a high fat content are generally more filling than low-fat diets because fat has a beneficial effect on the 'hunger hormone' ghrelin (and protein even more so) (source).
A study published in 2012 looked at the effects of three popular diets on a group of young adults with overweight or obesity. The participants in the study each tried all three diets for a period of one month so that the researchers could compare the results. All three diets contained the same amount of calories, but had a different distribution of fat, protein and carbohydrates.
- Diet 1 consisted of 60% carbohydrates, 20% fat and 20% protein
- Diet 2 was based on foods with a low glycemic index and had a distribution of 40% carbohydrates, 40% fat and 20% protein.
- The third diet was a low-carbohydrate diet that consisted of only 10% carbohydrates, 60% fat and 30% protein.
So what were the results after comparing the three diets? The participants on the high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet had burned the most calories and had also improved their insulin sensitivity over the 4 week period (source).
Disadvantage # 6: Higher risk of depression and anxiety symptoms
Fatty acids play an important role in higher brain functions that govern our mood. Some neurotransmitters, such as endocannabinoids, are synthesized from fatty acids, suggesting that fatty acid metabolites derived from fats in food can affect the central nervous system.
Studies have also shown that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids in a diet can be effective against depressive disorders (source).
If you follow a diet that includes adequate amounts of healthy fats, the chances are high that you will feel more full between meals, have less appetite for carbohydrates, be able to think more clearly, and have more energy.
Disadvantage # 7: Possibly bowel problems
A diet high in naturally occurring fatty acids and nutrients provides the building blocks that are needed to not only maintain a healthy gut, but also a healthy brain, both of which are strongly interconnected. It is not for nothing that our intestines are also referred to as our second brain (source).
Gut bacteria can affect blood sugar levels (source). So that means consuming a lot high-fiber, plant-based food (especially vegetables) together with healthy fats which nourishes the good intestinal bacteria in the intestine.
Disadvantage # 8: Most low-fat diets are high in sugar
At first glance, low-fat foods seem to be a fairly healthy alternative ...
Unfortunately, this is very deceptive!
Because what you won't find out in the supermarket is the fact that most low-fat products are full of added sugar to compensate for the loss of taste (caused by leaving out fat). These foods, which are full of refined sugars and quick carbohydrates, are unfortunately unlikely to have a satiating effect.
An entire generation has been taught to avoid fat, but no one has ever said anything about stuffing yourself with sugar.
Consuming too much sugar can be very negative for your health. On the other hand, we already know for sure that the dangers posed by fat have been greatly overestimated, while those of sugar have been played down.
In a meta-analysis (examination of an entire cluster of studies) from 2017, researchers examined the diets of over 135,000 people from 18 different countries. People on a low-fat diet died earlier than others for a variety of reasons: They were also at greater risk of dying from heart attacks and other heart problems. In contrast, people with a low intake of carbohydrates had a significantly lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (source).
The findings were so abundant that the researchers announced that 'today's dietary guidelines should be revised'.
A low-fat diet can potentially help treat a variety of allergies and conditions, including diabetes. However, in the long term, adhering to a strictly low-fat diet is very difficult. The diet is not very varied, which makes it very uncomfortable and therefore extra difficult to adhere to.
The consumption of some very healthy foods such as unprocessed meat, oily fish, eggs, nuts, virgin olive oil and whole milk products should also be restricted. As a result, you will miss many healthy fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals in your diet.
One thing is very clear: Eating less fat is not always the best way to lose weight. A low-carbohydrate diet is generally far more effective for most people who want to lose weight.
Instead of worrying about your daily fat intake, it is better to focus on improving your diet. Eating whole grains, healthy fats, and less refined carbohydrates is a great way to get started.
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