It’s obvious isn’t it – fat makes you fat!
This is the predicate that a whole industry has been built on… reduced fat / low fat / no fat products abound.
Ironically – the rise of low-fat products has actually produced an increase in obesity as opposed to an improvement!
Throwing baby out with bath water?
Perhaps the problem is because typical reduce/low/no fat products are processed foods which have the original fat is replaced by sugars and trans-fats; also very importantly – fat soluble vitamins have been removed. This includes vitamin A, D, E and K.
Are you aware that the process of removing fat from foods like milk and cheese also removes the fat soluble vitamins that would normally come with the food?
What is going wrong?
Supermarket shelves are loaded with low-fat and fat-free versions of foods we recognize and most of the literature tells us to eat less fat but we only need to look around us at the on-going obesity struggle to realise that these products are not working as promised.
The reality is, for the last few years, research has been consistently proving that reducing dietary fat does not actually produce any health benefit.
On the contrary, it seems the shift away from eating foods as close to their natural state as possible has contributed to an obesity and diabetes epidemic that is overloading our NHS in addition to causing personal misery to sufferers.
A recent Lancet study looked at eating habits of 135,335 people aged 35-70 over a period of 7.5 years. The findings were that high carbohydrate intake (not fat) was linked to a higher risk of death, whereas fat intake was associated with lower death and had no link to cardiovascular disease. In fact, eating more saturated fat was associated with a lower risk of stroke!
Some reasons for the surprising results include
Low or fat free options are less satiating than full fat counterparts so we eat more
Low fat options exclude important fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E, K – these vitamins support immunity and protect against infection and inflammatory related disease
Low fat options contain trans-fats (hydrogenated vegetable oils) as a substitute for original fat content – this is the most dangerous type
Low or fat free options contain significantly more added sugar than full fat option
What to do?
While fat contributes significantly more calories than any other macro-nutrient – 9kcal per gram as opposed to 4kcal per gram for Protein or carbohydrates; reducing calories intake is not as simple as eliminating fat from the diet.
At the very minimum it is definitely a good idea to look closely at the nutritional content of any low-fat or fat free foods you are considering buying. You might very well find there is what is being lost in fat is more than made up for in sugar, salt or even overall calories!
Try original (full fat) versions of foods and consider whether you could actually end up eating less of the food than if you had the lower fat version
Ideally and wherever possible, eating foods that come as close as possible to their natural state means getting all the natural nutrients the food would provide and usually can be surprisingly filling.