Guest article by Sam Hadadi,
While the mantra that eating a diet full of low-fat foods (no coconut oil, no cheese, and no fun!) is seemingly fading into weight loss oblivion, many of us still find it tricky to get our heads around the fact that fat is our friend.
For so long, we were told to ditch the dairy, to hide the butter and to embrace artificially-produced low-fat foods, and that perception is proving tricky to shift. While media advice is slowly changing, we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been asked how high-fat foods can help with weight loss.
Yet, helping us to embrace the fats, a team of researchers have recently confirmed what we knew all along: low-fat diets aren’t all that effective when it comes to long-term weight loss. Interested? Read on for more…
Well, quite simply, not really! This same team of researchers (from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health) carried out a huge review of random, clinical trials, all of which looked at the long-term effectiveness of low-fat diets vs. high fat ones.
As you know, the effectiveness of low-fat diets on weight loss have been thrown about for decades and clinical trials still can’t quite reach an agreement. So, to see if they could finally reach an overall conclusion, these researchers gathered together a mass of data, finding that low-fat diets are no more successful than high-fat ones when it comes to achieving (and maintaining) weight loss.
Published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, one of the researchers, Deirdre Tobias, said: "Despite the pervasive dogma that one needs to cut fat from their diet in order to lose weight, the existing scientific evidence does not support low-fat diets over other dietary interventions for long-term weight loss.
"In fact, we did not find evidence that is particularly supportive of any specific proportion of calories from fat for meaningful long-term weight loss.
“We need to look beyond the ratios of calories from fat, carbs, and protein to a discussion of healthy eating patterns, whole foods, and portion sizes. Finding new ways to improve diet adherence for the long-term and preventing weight gain in the first place are important strategies for maintaining a healthy weight."
The researchers pulled together data from an impressive 53 studies (with a total of 68,128 participants) that were each designed to measure the difference in weight change on low-fat diets. However, trials that included dietary supplements or meal replacement drinks were excluded from the analysis.
On average, people across all studies only managed to lose and keep off six pounds for one year or longer. Yet, when compared with low-fat diets, those who enjoyed low-carb diets were about two and a half pounds lighter after follow-ups one year later.
In fact, researchers were convinced that low-fat diets really weren’t that effective. So much so that they even went as far as to suggest that low-fat diets only led to a greater weight loss when compared to the people who didn’t change their eating habits at all.
As Frank Hu, senior author of the paper, said: "Current evidence indicates that clinically meaningful weight loss can be achieved with a variety of dietary approaches.
"The key is to improve long-term compliance and cardiometabolic health. Therefore, weight loss diets should be tailored to cultural and food preferences and health conditions of the individual and should also consider long-term health consequences of the diets."
Here at Lucy Bee we love our unprocessed, natural high-fat diet but we don’t believe in cutting out any food groups. A healthy, balanced diet is the way forward – and we’d never suggest cutting out whole food groups.
Yet if you’re still fretting over fats, then fear not! There are plenty of reasons why they can be good for you, and why fats love your body. Of course, it all depends on where you’re finding your fats but we believe in embracing unprocessed, whole, natural, organic foods.
Need more convincing? Well, types of fats can include omega-3s, which are fantastic for skin and heart health (and why wouldn’t you want glowing, supermodel skin?) and saturated fats which can boost the immune system. Meanwhile, other fats have been found to boost the metabolism and bone health, reduce inflammation, bad cholesterol and our risk of cancer, and even help with depression.
So, what are you waiting for?
For further reading on this see Science Daily
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.