So what if you could drop some weight by tweaking your diet? That’s what new research out of England is suggesting.
In this meta-analysis, the researchers reviewed and analyzed 33 randomized controlled trials that involving 73,589 participants and 10 cohort studies. These studies, which were from North America, Europe and New Zealand, compared participants’ diets over a period of time between six months to one year. One of the diets was lower fat intake while the other diet didn’t regulate fat intake. In addition, these studies looked at the effects of these diets on the participants’ body fatness through body weight, body mass index or waist circumference of the study participants.
The researchers found that participants that ate less fat lost weight. In addition, they had a drop in body mass index and waist circumference. Interestingly, the participants weren’t dieting or trying to lose weight. And they were able to keep the weight off for at least seven years.
So should you drop all fats from your diet? The answer to that, according to experts, is a resounding “No!” The Mayo Clinic states that fat is essential to a person’s health since it supports some specific bodily functions, such as the absorption of some vitamins in the digestive tract. Furthermore, good fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats -- lower disease risk, according to Harvard University’s School of Public Health. Monounsaturated fat, which is found in many foods and oils, improves blood cholesterol levels, thus lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, this type of fat is believed to benefit insulin levels and blood sugar levels, which is important for people who have type 2 diabetes. Polyunsaturated fat, on the other hand, is found primarily in plant-based foods and oils. Consuming foods that have high levels of this fat improves blood cholesterol levels, thus decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, polyunsaturated fat is believed to decrease the threat of type 2 diabetes. And omega-3 fatty acids, which is one type of polyunsaturated fat that is found in some types of fatty fish such as salmon, has been found to protect against coronary artery disease and irregular heartbeats as well as to lower blood pressure levels.
However, some types of dietary fat, such as trans fat and saturated fat, are to be avoided. Saturated fats mainly found in animal sources of food, raises overall blood cholesterol levels as well as the bad form of cholesterol. This type of fat also make increase your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. While occurring in some foods naturally (especially foods from animals), trans fat primarily is created through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats when making processed foods. Called “industrial trans fat” or synthetic trans fat”, this type of fat causes the bad form of cholesterol to increase and also lowers the good cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. So how do you know if something has a high percentage of these types of fats? The Mayo Clinic reported that these fats are solid at room temperature (i.e., beef fat, pork fat, shortening, stick margarine and butter).
Furthermore, you need to be careful when reading food labels. “’Low-fat,’ ‘reduced fat,’ or ‘fat-free’ processed foods are not necessarily ‘healthy,’ nor is it automatically healthier to follow a low-fat diet,” reports the Harvard website. For instance, people often stop eating all fats, which means that they’re missing out on the “good” fats that are beneficial for the heart. In addition, many of these diets have high levels of refined carbohydrates and starches (think white bread, potatoes, etc.) These foods are digested quickly, which causes blood sugar and insulin to vary widely, which can cause someone to become hungry. And more worrisome, eating this type of food also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes.
So trim some fat from your diet in order to lose weight, but make sure it’s the bad form of fat!
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Dallas, M.E. (2012). Just lowering fat intake can shed pounds, study finds. MedlinePlus.
Hooper, L., et al. (2012). Effect of reducing total fat intake on body weight: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies. BMJ journal.
Mayo Clinic. (2011). Dietary fats: Know which types to choose.
Harvard School of Public Health. (nd.) The nutrition source: fats and cholesterol.