When it comes to long-term weight loss and management, fats go a long way. Harvard University researchers found low-fat diets flop in long-term weight management and recommended higher fat, lower carb diets instead.
The researchers analyzed 53 diet studies covering over 68,000 participants. They found that low-fat diets only result in higher weight loss when compared with no diet regimen at all. Low-fat diets also resulted in little weight loss when compared with low-carb diets.
"Health and nutrition guidelines should cease recommending low-fat diets for weight loss in view of the clear absence of long-term efficacy when compared with other similar intensity dietary interventions," wrote the researchers.
Lead author Dr. Deirdre Tobias from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital stressed that there is no good evidence in the continuous recommendation of low-fat diets to people who want to lose weight and keep the excess off. The findings were published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal on Oct. 29.
Many people who follow the low-fat diet also get rid of high-fat foods that are actually healthy such as avocados, dark chocolate, whole eggs and fatty fishes which include herring, mackerel, trout and the crowd's favorite, salmon. Instead of snacking on high-fat whole foods, they tend to load up on low-fat alternatives, many of which are processed and sugar-loaded.
"Since fat takes a long time to break down in the stomach, it can help people feel fuller for longer after their meals to prevent overeating," said dietitian Holly Herrington from the Center for Lifestyle Medicine in Chicago. The difference is quite prevalent in low-fat dieters who tend to feel hungrier than people who eat modest amount of good fat in each meal. Effective weight loss management calls for discipline in food proportion. Experts' advice to just focus on healthy, whole foods instead of processed goods laced in trans-fat and sugar.
In order to effectively fight widespread obesity, Tobias added that more research is needed to best identify methods for long-term weight loss and management. This includes looking beyond the proportion of calories stemming from proteins, carbohydrates and fats.