• +91 99300 74447 / +91 98207 37677
High Fat or Low Fat - What Matters?
  • Arati Shah

  • 12, Aug. 2020

High Fat or Low Fat - What Matters?

In the 1980’s dietary fat came under attack and became the enemy number one. So much so that most weight management programs focused on very little dietary fat. We all thought - “fat makes you fat”. This gave rise to the so called “fat free” or “low fat” products. But today, there is a shift in the recommendations from the amount of fat to the quality of fat.   

Let us first understand the role of fat in our body. Our body needs fat which is the most energy dense nutrient – providing 9 calories per gram. It acts as a protective layer around our vital organs, insulates our body, makes food palatable, absorbs fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K and keeps the heart healthy. In a healthy diet 25-30% of the total calorie intake should come from fat (unless there is a clinical condition that may need less).  

So, coming back to the current focus on the quality of fat, we need to understand the types of fat. Good fats include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and the bad fats include the saturated fats and trans fats. Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts. Good sources of polyunsaturated fats include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil. Saturated fats come mainly from dairy and meat whereas trans fats come from baked foods, fried foods, and foods containing hydrogenated fats.  

Low fat diets are diets that limit the intake of fat. Now, they can help achieve short-term weight loss, but they are not the right choice. Human body needs fat. So, stay away from the harmful trans and saturated fat and substitute them with the healthy unsaturated fats to improve overall health. Also, if the goal is healthy weight loss or to keep the lipid levels in check, buying “fat-free” products in the supermarkets isn’t the solution. When fat is removed from any product, it loses its taste. To make up for that, food manufacturers add other ingredients like sugar, thickeners and salt to make it palatable, adding unnecessary calories to the product. So, in most cases, a “low-fat” product may actually be high in bad carbs and have more calories. 

The only way a weight loss program would work is to eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. The traditional Indian diet is the perfect example of a balanced and low-fat diet. It emphasizes a high intake of plant foods with some dairy in it. The spices and herbs add to the flavor along with medicinal properties. So, getting back to your roots, keeping it simple, leading an active life and consulting the best dietitian in Mumbai is the answer to most weight loss solutions.