Low-Fat Diet Plan For Weight Loss – Benefits And Side Effects

In the age of high-fat diets, should you go on a low-fat diet to lose weight?
Medically Reviewed by Madhu Sharma, RD
Written by Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Following a low-fat diet for shedding some pounds is a decades-old approach. However, the latest studies suggest that monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help you lose weight and reduce high blood pressure and inflammation (1), (2), (3). Also, your body requires limited amounts of saturated fats for optimal functioning (4). Nevertheless, doctors may still recommend a low-fat diet if you have a specific health condition (5). This article discusses everything you need to know about a low-fat diet, foods to eat and avoid, its benefits, potential side effects, and more. Keep scrolling!

What Is A Low-Fat Diet?

What is a low-fat diet

Shutterstock

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?

Does a low-fat diet aid in weight loss

Shutterstock

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

Foods to eat on a low-fat diet

Shutterstock

  • 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

Foods to avoid on a low-fat diet

Shutterstock

      • 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 TypeFoods that can be eaten regularly (little or no fat and/or ‘healthy’ foods)Foods to be eaten in moderationFoods to avoid or to eat rarely (high in fat and/or ‘unhealthy’ foods)
Cereal foodsWholemeal flour and bread
Porridge oats
High-fibre breakfast cereals
Wholegrain rice and pasta
White flour and bread
Low-fibre breakfast cereals
White rice and pasta
Plain biscuits
Plain or fruit scones
Croissants
Fried bread
Most cakes and biscuits
Pastries
Suet pudding
Fruit, veg and nutsAll fruits and vegetables
Dried beans and lentils
Baked potatoes
Dried fruit
Walnuts
Oven chips
Avocados
Olives
Almonds
Pecans
Hazelnuts
Chips
Fried or roast potatoes
Fried, creamed, buttered or cheesed vegetables
Crisps and potato snacks
Coconut
Brazils
Roasted peanuts
FishFresh salmons, herring, mackerels, tuna, sardines etc, white fishShellfishFish roe
Caviar
MeatLean meats without skin, such as chicken and other poultryLean ham, beef, pork, and lamb
Lean mince
Liver and kidney
Visible fat on meat
Crackling
Sausages
Ptés
Duck, goose
Meat pies/pasties
Eggs, dairy foodsSkimmed or semi-skimmed milk
Cottage or curd cheese
Low-fat yoghurt
Egg whites
Edam
Camembert
Parmesan
Up to 3 egg yolks a week
Whole milk
Cream
Ice cream
Most hard cheeses
Chocolate
Cream cheese
Fats and spreadsNoneLow-fat spreads
Margarine high in polyunsaturates
Corn oil, sunflower oil and olive oil
Butter
Dripping and lard
Margarine not high in polyunsaturates
Drinks and soupsTea and coffee
Mineral water
Fruit juices
Packet soups
Alcoholic drinks
Cream soups
Milky drinks
Sugary drinks

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

MealsWhat To Eat
Early Morning

(6:00-7:00 a.m.)

1 cup water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
Breakfast

(6:45 – 7:45 a.m.)

1 medium bowl oatmeal with low-fat milk and berries and 4 almonds
Mid Morning

(9:30 – 10:30 a.m.)

1 cucumber with 1 small cup hummus dip
Lunch

(12:30 – 1:00 p.m.)

1 cup tuna salad or mushroom salad + 1 cup buttermilk
Snack

(3:30 – 4:00 p.m.)

1 cup green tea + 1 digestive biscuit/2 saltine crackers
Dinner

(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

Smoothie for breakfast as part of low-fat diet

Shutterstock

Ingredients
      • 2 peaches, pitted
      • 1 orange
      • 1 cup soy milk
How To Prepare
      1. Toss all the ingredients into a blender.
      2. Blitz well and pour the smoothie into two glasses.
      3. Say cheers!

2. Lunch Salad

Salad for lunch as part of low-fat diet

Shutterstock

Ingredients
      • 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
      1. Toss in the smoked salmon, baby spinach, onion slices, and cherry tomatoes.
      2. Add lime juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
      3. Toss well, and your lunch is ready!

3. Dinner Soup

Soup for dinner as part of low-fat diet

Shutterstock

Ingredients
      • 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
      1. Toss the onion, tomato, garlic powder, carrot, celery, white beans, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth into a pressure cooker.
      2. Pressure cook for about 20 minutes over medium flame.
      3. Once the pressure cooker cools down, open the lid, and pour out the soup.
      4. 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.

The low-fat diet typically means consuming 15% of calories in dietary fat. You have to take saturated and trans fats in limited amounts while increasing the intake of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This diet can cause weight loss, but not as much as the low-carb diet does. However, it may help lower inflammation and reduce cardiovascular disease risk. Unfortunately, not taking fats at all can also increase CVD risk, besides causing a nutritional deficiency. So, do not follow this diet unless your dietitian recommends you to and designs a customized diet depending on your health condition, age, weight, etc.

Frequently Asked 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.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11593093
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5691764/
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes. Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257651/
  • Low-fat diets are preferred. The American Journal of Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12566138
  • Saturated Fats Versus Polyunsaturated Fats Versus Carbohydrates for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Treatment”, Annual review of nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4744652/
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23035144
  • Effects of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets: a randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicines, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25178568
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4586572/
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26602244
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29212558
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5839290/
  • 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.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16783472
The following two tabs change content below.

Madhu Sharma

(RD)
Madhu Sharma is a member of the National Executive Committee of IDA. She has been associated for almost three decades... more

LATEST ARTICLES