Going on a low-fat diet for weight loss is so 70s. New research shows that polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats aid weight loss, reduce inflammation, and hypertension (1), (2), (3). In fact, your body also needs saturated fats in limited amounts to function properly (4). However, you may consider going on a low-fat diet if you have a specific medical condition, and your doctor has advised you to do so (5). Read on to know if you should go on a low-fat diet for weight loss, foods to eat, benefits, and side effects. Swipe up!
Highlights Of The Article
- What Is A Low-Fat Diet?
- What’s Best – Low-Fat Diet Vs. Low-Carb Diet
- Does Low-Fat Diet Aid Weight Loss?
- Foods To Eat On A Low-Fat Diet
- Foods To Avoid On A Low-Fat Diet
- Low-Fat Diet Sheet
- Sample Low-Fat Diet Meal Plan
- Low-Fat Diet Recipes
- Benefits Of A Low-Fat Diet
- Risks Or Side Effects Of A Low-Fat Diet
What Is A Low-Fat Diet?
A low-fat diet is a diet that restricts the daily consumption of dietary fat from animal and plant sources. In a low fat diet, 15% of total calories should come from fat, which is considered as low. Anything less than or equal to 10% of total calories constitutes an ultra-low fat diet.
The new fat intake guidelines allow saturated fats consumption no more than 10% of calories, and trans fats no more than 1% of calories, and urges to replace saturated fats with mono and polyunsaturated fats (6).
However, you can tweak the numbers and customize your diet plan to suit your medical condition or for weight loss as per your doctor’s suggestion. Before moving to a low-fat diet for weight loss, let us look at a few facts about a low-carb diet versus a low-fat diet.
What’s Best – Low-Fat Diet Vs. Low-Carb Diet
The market for low-carb diets is booming right now – from Ketogenic diet to zero-carb diet. But the late 70s and 80s saw a boom in low-fat diets. So, which is better? Let’s see what science has to say:
- A low-carb diet tends to aid slightly more weight loss, decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol, and lower triglyceride levels (7).
- A low-carb diet may be better when it comes to weight loss and reducing cardiovascular risks (8), (9).
- Low-fat diets (less than 15% of total calories per day) may cause metabolic syndrome in the adult population (10).
- A low-fat diet may lower the HDL (good) cholesterol levels over a period (11).
However, other studies show that one diet is not better than the other, and a diet should be customized according to the needs, medical condition, age, weight, and activity level of the person (12), (13).
So, will going on a low-fat diet help you lose weight? Let’s find out!
Does Low Fat Diet Aid Weight Loss?
Yes, a low-fat diet may help you lose weight if you adhere to the dietary guidelines of unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats intake. Consuming too many trans fats from junk foods will not aid weight loss.
Note an important fact – fats are high in calories, but calories do not always determine the “good vs. bad”. For example, junk foods and zero calorie drinks may be in low in calories, but they also do not contain any nutrition and are loaded with harmful trans fats, high amounts of salt and refined sugar, and artificial additives.
You should not avoid consuming the healthy unsaturated fats that help lower inflammation and inflammation-induced weight gain (14). However, if you need to go on a low-fat diet temporarily and your doctor approves it, here’s a list of foods to eat and avoid while on this diet.
Foods To Eat On A Low-Fat Diet
- Healthy Fats – Olive oil, avocado, avocado oil, walnut, almond, pistachio, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, pepita, and ghee.
- Protein – Fish, skinless chicken breast, eggs, mushroom, tofu, soybean, soya chunk, lentils, kidney beans, sprouts, chickpeas, Bengal gram, peas, and edamame.
- Dairy – Low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese in limited amounts. *full-fat dairy would be the best choice for weight loss. Please consult your dietitian to know if you should consume low-fat or high-fat dairy.
- Veggies – Carrot, broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, beetroot, bok choy, scallions, radish, kale, spinach, radish greens, chard, rhubarb, tomato, cucumber, squash, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, onion, okra, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes.
- Fruits – Avocado, apple, pineapple, peach, plum, orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, and sweet lime.
- Beverages – Water, homemade buttermilk, green tea, herbal tea, black coffee (avoid if you are caffeine sensitive), and freshly pressed fruit juice or smoothies without added sugar or sugar-free.
- Herbs And Spices – Cilantro, oregano, garlic, ginger, dill, fennel, cumin, coriander, turmeric, mace, saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, chili flakes, cayenne pepper, sage, basil, and star anise.
Foods To Avoid On A Low-Fat Diet
- Junk Food – Fried foods, frozen foods, zero-calorie drinks, soda, refined sugar, and processed foods.
- Protein – Fatty part of beef and pork.
- Dairy – Cream cheese.
- Beverages – Packaged fruit juice, packaged smoothies, soda, diet soda, and packaged buttermilk.
Here’s a low-fat diet sheet that you can take a screenshot of and use on the go.
Low-Fat Diet Sheet
|Food Type||Foods that can be eaten regularly (little or no fat and/or ‘healthy’ foods)||Foods to be eaten in moderation||Foods to avoid or to eat rarely (high in fat and/or ‘unhealthy’ foods)|
|Cereal foods||Wholemeal flour and bread|
High-fibre breakfast cereals
Wholegrain rice and pasta
|White flour and bread|
Low-fibre breakfast cereals
White rice and pasta
Plain or fruit scones
Most cakes and biscuits
|Fruit, veg and nuts||All fruits and vegetables|
Dried beans and lentils
Fried or roast potatoes
Fried, creamed, buttered or cheesed vegetables
Crisps and potato snacks
|Fish||Fresh salmons, herring, mackerels, tuna, sardines etc, white fish||Shellfish||Fish roe|
|Meat||Lean meats without skin, such as chicken and other poultry||Lean ham, beef, pork, and lamb|
Liver and kidney
|Visible fat on meat|
|Eggs, dairy foods||Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk|
Cottage or curd cheese
Up to 3 egg yolks a week
Most hard cheeses
|Fats and spreads||None||Low-fat spreads|
Margarine high in polyunsaturates
Corn oil, sunflower oil and olive oil
Dripping and lard
Margarine not high in polyunsaturates
|Drinks and soups||Tea and coffee|
It is clear from the lists above what you must eat and avoid to follow a low-fat diet. Here’s a sample low-fat diet plan to help you understand what, when, and how much you should consume to lose weight.
Sample Low-Fat Diet Meal Plan
|Meals||What To Eat|
|Early Morning |
|1 cup water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar|
(6:45 – 7:45 a.m.)
|1 medium bowl oatmeal with low-fat milk and berries and 4 almonds|
(9:30 – 10:30 a.m.)
|1 cucumber with 1 small cup hummus dip|
(12:30 – 1:00 p.m.)
|1 cup tuna salad or mushroom salad + 1 cup buttermilk|
(3:30 – 4:00 p.m.)
|1 cup green tea + 1 digestive biscuit/2 saltine crackers|
(7:00 – 7:30 p.m.)
|1 cup lentil soup with veggies|
This diet will work wonders for you. But check with your doctor before following this diet plan. Also, unless you start cooking your meals, you will not be able to tell if there are hidden calories in your food in the form of sugar, salt, and sauces. So, it is best that you start preparing meals at home. We understand that you are tired and have no time to cook – but the recipes below will take just 15-30 minutes to prepare. So, give it a go.
Low Fat Diet Recipes
1. Breakfast Smoothie
- 2 peaches, pitted
- 1 orange
- 1 cup soy milk
How To Prepare
- Toss all the ingredients into a blender.
- Blitz well and pour the smoothie into two glasses.
- Say cheers!
2. Lunch Salad
- 3 oz smoked salmon, thinly sliced
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup baby spinach
- ¼ onion, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
How To Prepare
- Toss in the smoked salmon, baby spinach, onion slices, and cherry tomatoes.
- Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Toss well, and your lunch is ready!
3. Dinner Soup
- ½ cup white beans
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 carrot, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- A handful of parsley, chopped
- ¼ lime
How To Prepare
- Toss the onion, tomato, garlic powder, carrot, celery, white beans, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth into a pressure cooker.
- Pressure cook for about 20 minutes over medium flame.
- Once the pressure cooker cools down, open the lid, and pour out the soup.
- Add parsley and lime juice on top and enjoy a warm and cozy dinner.
These are fuss-free and delicious food options that you can make at home quickly. Now, let’s take a look at the benefits and side effects of a low-fat diet.
Benefits Of A Low-Fat Diet
Limiting unhealthy fats will have the following benefits:
- May lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Makes you feel energetic and light.
- Helps lower inflammation in the body.
- May increase your longevity.
- May aid short-term weight loss
Let’s now take a look at the flipside.
Risks Or Side Effects Of A Low-Fat Diet
Avoiding fats completely may have the following repercussions:
- Difficulty in losing weight.
- May increase the risk of high triglycerides in the blood.
- May increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- May cause vitamins and mineral deficiency.
Fats are an important part of your diet. Consume healthy fats and saturated fats in limited amounts. Go on a customized, low-fat diet only if your doctor recommends you to. If you want to lose weight, you should follow a well-balanced diet and workout regularly to see amazing results.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Are eggs part of a low-fat diet?
Yes, eggs are a part of the low-fat diet. Egg yolk is high in cholesterol, so, if your doctor asks you to avoid the yolk, consume just the white. Otherwise, you may consume 3 whole eggs per week.
How much fat is in a low-fat diet?
Typically, not more than 15% of your daily calorie intake if you are following a low-fat diet plan. But make sure you do not lower your fat intake below 15% of the daily calorie intake.
- Role of weight loss and polyunsaturated fatty acids in improving metabolic fitness in moderately obese, moderately hypertensive subjects. Journal of Hypertension, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- High Fat Diet with a High Monounsaturated Fatty Acid and Polyunsaturated/Saturated Fatty Acid Ratio Suppresses Body Fat Accumulation and Weight Gain in Obese Hamsters. Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes. Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Low-fat diets are preferred. The American Journal of Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Effects of low-carbohydrate diets versus low-fat diets on metabolic risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. American Journal of Epidemiology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicines, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- The Effects of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet vs. a Low-Fat Diet on Novel Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Very-low-fat diets may be associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome in the adult population. Clinical Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effects of low-fat compared with high-fat diet on cardiometabolic indicators in people with overweight and obesity without overt metabolic disturbance: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. The British Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Adipose tissue inflammation induced by high-fat diet in obese diabetic mice is prevented by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Diabetologia, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.