More Support for Low Fat Diets in Weight Loss
More evidence that very low fat diets are the 'natural' human diet that support maintenance of a healthy body weight in many ways.
Low fat diets have long been considered an effective strategy for weight loss. They promote a healthy balance of macronutrients, whole foods, and dietary fiber while reducing calorie intake. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of low fat diets for weight loss and explore human population studies that support this approach.
Benefits of Low Fat Diets for Weight Loss
Macronutrient Calorie Density: Low fat diets focus on reducing calorie-dense foods, particularly those high in fat. As fat has more than double the calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and proteins, reducing fat intake can significantly lower overall calorie consumption.
Whole Food Calorie Density: Low fat diets encourage the consumption of whole foods, which typically have lower calorie density. Fruits and vegetables, in particular, have very low calorie densities, allowing you to eat more volume while consuming fewer calories.
Fiber Content: Low fat diets promote the consumption of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber has been shown to play a vital role in weight loss by promoting gastric distension, which contributes to a feeling of fullness and satiety.
Gut Health and Gut Bacteria: Fiber also plays an essential role in maintaining gut health and promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome has been linked to improved weight loss outcomes and overall health.
Thermic Effect of Food: Low fat diets can increase the thermic effect of food, or the energy required to digest and process nutrients. This increase in energy expenditure can contribute to weight loss over time.
Population Studies and Historical Diets
Traditional human diets since the agricultural revolution have predominantly consisted of high carbohydrate, low fat foods, contrary to popular "paleo" or low-carbohydrate beliefs. Even our Paleolithic ancestors likely consumed a higher carbohydrate diet, given the difficulties in procuring meat and the availability of wild grains and fruits.
Contemporary population data supports the notion that high carbohydrate, low fat diets are common across the globe. In Asia, Africa, and South Asia, diets are primarily plant-based and high in carbohydrates. Indigenous populations worldwide also follow similar dietary patterns.
Relevant research includes:
Eaton SB, Eaton SB 3rd, Konner MJ. Paleolithic nutrition revisited: a twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997 Apr;51(4):207-16.
Popkin BM. Global nutrition dynamics: the world is shifting rapidly toward a diet linked with noncommunicable diseases. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Aug;84(2):289-98.
The Low Carbohydrate Craze: A Fad or a Sustainable Solution?
The current American low carbohydrate craze is a dietary fad that has gained popularity without strong scientific support. This trend has been criticized for promoting inflammation and failing to provide sustainable, long-term weight loss results.
In conclusion, low fat diets that emphasize whole foods, high fiber, and low calorie densities have a strong foundation in both historical and contemporary population data. These diets can promote weight loss through various mechanisms, including reduced calorie intake, increased satiety, and improved gut health. In contrast, low carbohydrate diets have been shown to be a fad, often causing more harm than good. By focusing on a low fat, plant-based diet, individuals can achieve sustainable weight loss and improve their overall health.