Every magazine, talk show and commercial has some reference to a type of diet that boasts amazing results in a short amount of time. Two common diets are the low fat and no fat diet. These diets cut most or all fat out of our daily intake. How true are the claims that these diets make, and how safe are they for your health?
Myth: All Fat Is Bad for You
Fact: Trans fats and saturated fats are bad for you, but there are fats that are actually good for you and essential to your health. Saturated fat is the trans-fat and hydrogenated fat found in animal products, margarines, lard, and of course, butter. These are the fats that should be avoided to lose weight, and generally to keep good health.
The fats that are good for you are the non-saturated fats which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are found in olive oil, avocados and almonds. Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish, flax seed oil and hemp see oil.
Myth: Fat Has No Nutritional Purpose in a Diet
Fact: Non-saturated fats actually play an important role in the diet. Non-saturated fats, also known as essential fatty acids, are necessary for the body to transport fat-soluble vitamins in the body. These fats are also beneficial to your metabolic rate because they are sources of energy for the body.
Myth: Low Fat Diets Reduce Cancer Risks and Cardiovascular Disease
Fact: In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that there was no significant change in risk of these diseases when a low fat diet was followed. Two groups of women were studied; one group was put on a low fat diet, while a second group maintained their regular diets for a period of 8.1 years. The study found that there was no significant reduction of cardiovascular disease, and only slight changes on risk factors.
Myth: You Must Go on a Low Fat Diet to Lose Weight
Fact: While you do not want to consume large quantities of fat regardless if you are trying to lose weight or not, again, there are some necessary fats in a diet. Another study involving two groups of women and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that women who followed a low fat diet lost only modest amounts of weight, only about 4.8 pounds in a year. In most instances, the weight was regained after the first year.
What To Do
With so many sources telling us how to eat and what to eat, which advice should we follow? Many diets make claims in order to make money, so remember that when choosing a diet. Generally, any diet that advises very little or nothing at all (of any food) should be avoided. Our bodies need a wide assortment of nutrients every day, therefore starving it of important foods can actually have harmful effects. Be sure to allow yourself the opportunity to eat from all food groups on a daily basis and exercise at least three times a week.