For decades, doctors, nutritionists, trainers, and even the government has waxed rhapsodic about the importance of consuming a low fat diet. Ushered in by research conducted in the late 50s and early 60s, there was a monumental shift in the nutrition recommendations, with the first low fat diet guidelines published in 1977. Since then, the vast majority of world health organizations haven’t budged in there promotion of consuming less dietary fat.
Why Go Low Fat?
Low-fat diets were touted to be heart healthy as early, somewhat suspect, research by Ansel Keys and colleagues found an association between high saturated fat intake and heart disease. This led to a low-fat craze that began in the 80s and continues up to today. People were avoiding anything with butter, oil, or fat like it was the plague, and replacing those tasty foods with processed, low-fat frankenfoods chock full of all sorts of cheap sugars and artificial trans fats, which we now know are even worse for your heart than saturated fats were originally thought to be!
But, there’s a couple problems with these low fat guidelines, beyond the artery-clogging effects of those partially hydrogenated oils you ate in all those low-fat cookies over the years.
Problems with Low Fat Diets
Fats are essential Your body requires adequate fat intake for the production of hormones, including the important muscle-building ones like testosterone. They also play a critical role cell structure integrity, as the membrane of every cell in your body is made of phospholipids, triglycerides and cholesterol. Plus, fats are also needed for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K.
Impaired cognitive function Low-fat, high carb diets typically exclude foods like eggs, liver, milk, peanut butter, etc, and with that comes the exclusion of essential nutrients, particularly in regards to brain function, including choline and serine. Do this long enough, and you’re in store for cognitive decline and possibly certain neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer`s.[2,3]
Increased Obesity & Diabetes An interesting side effect of the low-fat guidelines is that there has been a rapidly increasing epidemic involving obesity and diabetes. While people were ditching anything and everything with fat, they consumed carbs and simple sugars with reckless abandon, leading to the present day crisis of skyhigh blood sugars and burgeoning bellies.
Increases Cardiovascular disease WHAT?!Wasn’t it fat intake that increased cardiovascular disease?!Not according to recent research, which shows that people consuming a high-fat diet (35% fat) had a 23% lower risk of early death and 18 percent lower risk of stroke compared to people who followed a low fat diet.
Low-Fat is a No-Go Too
We’ve already detailed how the keto diet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and now we’ve trashed the popular low-fat approach too. So, what is the best diet to be eating?
We’ll answer that soon!
2005 DGAC report – Part G. Appendices, Sect. 5. Brief History of Dietary Guidelines
Dehghan M, Mente A, Zhang X, et al. Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. Lancet. 2018;390(10107):2050-2062. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32252-3.