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Want to Lose Weight? Skip Low-Fat Fads

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To lose weight, you cut back on fat, right? This was the thought for decades, but recent research has emerged that completely turns this advice on its head. In fact, low fat diets may actually lead to weight gain. Read more below.

For years, medical experts recommended skipping high-fat foods in the quest to lose weight. Between 1980 and 2014, most health experts would recommend a low-fat diet for individuals trying to lose weight. But for some reason, obesity rates have risen since the start of the low-fat craze, even though Americans are consuming less fat than in previous decades.

Studies on the benefits of low-fat diets failed to find correlation between a reduced fat diet and reduced risk of cardiovascular problems and other health problems.

So what went wrong? It seems like reducing fat could work to prevent weight gain, because caloric intake should be smaller. However new studies have found that in practice, this is not true.

Low-Fat Studies

Early low-fat recommendations were based on theoretical science, but recent studies did not back the claims made by early researchers. A review of studies on fat published in the journal Open Heart in February 2015 found that there was no correlation between the type of fat that a person ate and increased health risks, such as cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.

According to the study researchers, the guidelines “lacked any solid trial evidence.” The researchers stated that high-fat consumption does have risks, but no more than other foods, such as carbohydrates and sugar. The researchers stated that vilifying fat alone encourages people to ignore health risks from other potentially damaging foods.

When fat is removed from the diet and commercial foods, studies show that often, consumers and manufacturers exchange fat for high sugar or carb content, which is equally damaging to a person’s health. Other studies on low-fat diet plans found that when dieters exchanged fatty foods for low-fat foods, they often gained weight. These studies found that when fat was removed, other flavor-enhancers were added, which increased the calorie content of the food.

Additionally, fat helps give you that “full” feeling, while low-fat items are not as satiating. Other studies found that while fat can raise LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), it tends to also raise HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). Saturated fats only increased large-particle LDL cholesterol, while a diet high in carbs is more likely to raise small-particle LDL cholesterol, which is much more damaging.

Medical News Today states that in some cases, over-consumption of carbohydrates is more likely to lead to weight gain than the over-consumption of fats. According to these studies, switching to low-fat products may actually do more harm than good.

Obviously, throwing out all dietary guidelines and simply snacking on fried fast food all day is not a healthy choice. Even with a full-fat diet, it is still important to monitor caloric intake. No matter what you eat, if you consume more calories than you are using in a day, you will gain weight.

How Much Fat Should I Eat?

The dietary guidelines from 1980 recommended consuming no more than 30 percent of your daily calorie intake from fat. However, according to recent studies, there was little basis for this guideline. According to Harvard Health, the most important thing to consider is what type of fats you eat.

Trans fat (also known as hydrogenated fat) is the least healthy fat. It is a chemical fat that the body cannot digest. Many food manufacturers are in the process of removing all trans fats from food, but it is still present in many processed foods, and is the biggest danger of eating processed foods and fast foods today.

Other fats, like corn oil, soybean oil, and canola oil may also be damaging, because they are highly processed oils. These oils oxidize quickly, which can cause problems. Vegetable oils are also high in omega-6 fats.

Omega-6 fats are healthy and required for health, but most Americans eat far too many. According to some studies, the ideal fat ratio is about 4 omega-3 fats to every 1 omega-6 fat. Many Americans have a fat ratio of about 20 omega-6 fats to every one omega-3 fat, which can cause inflammation problems. Omega-6 fats lead to inflammation, while omega-3 fats can calm inflammation.

Fats that are healthier and easier to digest include omega-3 fats (found in some nuts and seafood) and saturated fats, found in animal products and a few vegetable products (like coconut and palm). Olive oil, avocado oil, and other monounsaturated fats are also part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.

Harvard Health states that as long as you focus on eating healthy fats, you shouldn’t have to worry much about the precise amount. Even a high-fat meal is allowed as long as it comes from healthy fats and you are not consuming more calories than you use in a day.

Eating Fat for Weight Loss

Fans of Paleo diets and other “ketogenic” diets suggest that by eating more fat, the body is boosted into a state where instead of storing fat for future use, the body uses the fat directly through the liver and ketone bodies replace glucose commonly made by cabs. This causes the body to run off of fat rather than sugar.

Originally, the ketogenic diet was used to reduce epileptic seizures in children with difficult cases. Ketogenic diets are most successful with a high-fat, high-protein and minimal carb intake. This triggers the body to burn fat instead of glucose. However, the long-term effects of ketogenic diets have not been examined as much as other diets, so use caution if you want to try a ketogenic diet.

Fats to Eat 
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Fish oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Animal fats (from pasture-raised animals, ideally)
  • Butter
  • Cheese

Other Important Steps for Weight Loss

Eating healthy fats without any other steps will not trigger weight loss in most cases. Add these other important elements to become the healthy person you were meant to be. 


Researchers have always known that exercise is important for weight management, but a study from 2013 published in PLOS Genetics may have found the reason why. Researchers followed 23, slightly overweight men for 6 months who were unused to exercise. The men were instructed to exercise three times a week during the study period. However, the men attended an average of 1.8 exercise sessions a week. The men were not instructed to change any other activity or diet. Over 6 months, the researchers studied changes in the DNA of the men’s fat cells.

The researchers found that exercise, even in such a small amount, affected the DNA of the men’s fat cells. Exercised changed how fat was stored in the body, and also changed DNA that contributes to type 2 diabetes and obesity. Exercise was able to make it less likely that the men would store extra fat from the genetic level. This is the first study to examine the potential effects of exercise on DNA.

Although DNA will never change completely, DNA is influenced by exercise, lifestyle, and diet.

Supplements to Try

As numerous studies show, whether you eat fat or not is not the biggest determination in whether or not you lose weight. Overweight individuals tend to have diets higher in sugar, carbohydrates, and fats overall, which leads to weight gain. Exchanging low-fat foods for full-fat foods will not make much difference in your overall health if you do not support your dietary changes with supporting steps.

Exercise is one of the most important steps you can take, but some studies suggest that addinga few extra supplements to your diet can help you get back toward your ideal weight sooner. If you are actively trying to lose weight in a healthy manner (no drastic diets or extreme fasts), try adding some of these supplements to your diet for an extra boost:

Guarana: Caffeine increases energy and may help you feel good enough to exercise and eat better. Guarana is a form of caffeine that is 2.5 times stronger than coffee and is less likely to cause energy crashes.

B Vitamins: B vitamins fuel energy and help motivate you for physical activity. Vitamin B6 may be of the biggest benefit in providing you with extra physical energy throughout the day. Many adults are deficient in vitamin B6, which is present in few foods and mainly found in seafood, liver, meat, onions, and a few other vegetables.

Green Tea: Some studies suggest that green tea not only increases energy with its caffeine content, but it may also boost the metabolism and increase the rate at which you burn fat.

When You Eat Matters

A study conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2012 on mice found that when you eat fat is more important than how much you eat. Rats given supplements of corn oil for 30 minutes each morning actually showed less weight gain than rats who were given no additional supplements.

However, when rats were allowed to consume extra oil without a regulated schedule, they continued to gain weight just like the other unscheduled feeding groups. This study suggests that eating at set meal times each day regulates the metabolism and helps prevent weight gain no matter what you eat. Other studies have indicated that eating meals within a 9 to 12-hour window each day helps prevent obesity.

Add Fat and Lose Weight

If you are on a low-fat diet and feel stalled in your weight loss, it could be that replacing some sugar or carbohydrate intake with healthy fats could be the key to successful weight loss. Along with exchanging fat-free foods for full-fat foods, keep to an exercise plan and limit your calorie intake to no more than what you can use in a day. The USDA recommends a 2,000 calorie diet for most Americans, but your exact calorie needs can differ. Before you give up on your weight loss plans, why not try adding more fat to your diet? You will not only improve your health, but you will enjoy your food more, too!




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