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Low Fat

- The basics
- Upside
- Downside
- Is It for You?
- Sample Menu
- Our Nutritionist Says
- iVillagers Say

Reviewed By:
Lynn Grieger, RD

Low fat diet basics

Low Fat DietThe logic of these diets is that, because fat contains more calories than carbohydrates or protein, limiting the fat in our diet is a simple way to promote weight loss.

All types of added fats, such as butter, margarine, mayonnaise, sour cream and salad dressings, are reduced or eliminated. Foods high in fat, such as fried foods, snack foods, cheeses and red meat, should be replaced with lower-fat versions or eaten in smaller portions. Most low-fat diets call for an increase of carbohydrate intake in the form of pasta, breads and potatoes.

A high-fat diet has been associated with numerous health conditions, from obesity to heart disease and even some types of cancer. The plan encourages the use of foods naturally low in fat, such as fruits and vegetables, which also contain healthy amounts of essential nutrients .

Upside of Low Fat Diets

  • Foods that are low in fat - for example, vegetables, whole grains, fruit - are generally healthy.

  • Many high fat foods are also high in sugar, which is bad for you and can lead to weight gain. Cutting down on cookies and ice cream is never a bad thing!

  • A low-fat diet has been shown to reduce the risk of many health conditions, including high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity.

Downside of Low Fat Diets

  • Not all foods that are low in fat are also low in calories. For example, bread and pasta are both fairly low in fat but can pile on the calorie intake if eaten to excess.

  • There has been an explosion of foods that are reduced in fat yet contain lots of sugar: snack bars, cookies, cakes, candies, ice cream and so on. Those foods do not promote a healthy diet, even if they are low in fat.

  • Low-fat diets assume that all fat is created equal, which researchers now know is not the case. Monounsaturated fats, the type found in olive oil and certain oily fish, have been found to be essential to a healthy body and mind.

  • Some vitamins (e.g., vitamins A, E and K) are found predominantly in fatty foods. People who eat a low-fat diet normally are advised to take vitamin supplements.

  • Fat makes food taste better - it's sad but true. Therefore, if you try to eliminate fat from your diet, you end up with boring, bland meals, making it less likely that you'll stick to the diet.

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Review Date: 11-08-2007
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