The low fat diet – weight loss myth or justified?

Die Low Fat Diät – Abnehm-Mythos oder berechtigt?

Low fat diet - an efficient method to lose weight quickly and in a targeted manner or the starting signal for a nutrient deficiency and other negative consequences? Eating low in fat has recently been widely promoted as a way to lose weight and prevent cardiovascular disease. However, science is now relatively unanimous that a radical fat-free diet in particular is harmful to health and can have many negative consequences in the long term. However, there are less extreme forms of the low-fat diet that can be justified, at least in phases.

What is the Low Fat Diet?

There are different variations of this diet. Basically, it is based on the principle that a low-fat diet automatically means fewer calories are consumed. This assumption is based on the fact that fat is the macronutrient with the highest energy density: 1g of fat has 9.3 kilocalories - in comparison, carbohydrates and protein only have 4.1 kilocalories per gram.

Besides, go Low fat diets Fans assume that fat makes you fat because the equation sounds logical: fat = body fat. Since, on the one hand, too much body fat can lead to fatty degeneration of tissue and arteries, which causes long-term health damage, and many people want to look slim, it sounds plausible to simply eat less fat for this reason. Well, both reasons mentioned for eating less fat are understandable - however, the human organism and its metabolism are certainly more complex, which is why there are other nutritional adjustments that are much more efficient.
The Low fat diet can have many disadvantages, especially in terms of health: hormonal imbalances, a lack of essential fatty acids, which the body needs for the stability of the cell walls, the brain and many other mechanisms, and the reduced absorption of fat-loving vitamins and minerals are just a few of that. In addition, much more sugar is often consumed instead of fats, which then has indirect negative consequences for health, body fat reduction and general well-being.

Low Fat Diet Explanation: This is how the trend came about - a historical excursion into the world of diets

The hype of the Low fat diet started in the 90s and has spread through society over the years until today - even if it is no longer as popular as it was back then. At that time, rapid world development and the industrialization of food caused by the new abundance of food brought cardiovascular diseases and obesity into the sights of doctors, nutrition experts and private individuals. Especially in the USA and the beauty and slimming craze in Hollywood, where a new nutritional craze was constantly being hyped Low fat diets increasingly well known. The trend quickly caught on in Europe and Germany.

How many grams of fat can you eat on the low fat diet? The low fat diet macro distribution

There are different definitions within the Low fat diet Rules about the maximum number of grams of fat you should eat per day. The recommendations are largely based on the basic calorie requirement and are presented accordingly in percentages: Depending on how radically the matter is approached, 10-30% of the daily calorie intake may come from fats. With 30% you would actually already be at the daily amount recommended by the German Nutrition Society 1 . However, it should be noted that a large part of the population adheres less to these guidelines and for many the 30% already means a reduction in fats. For an average woman with a daily requirement of 1,600 kilocalories a day, this would amount to 50-60g of fat. It is often the case Low fat diet However, a significantly lower dietary fat target is aimed for:

There is the 30 gram fat diet, in which no more than the mentioned 30g of fat per day can be consumed. If you stick to the lower limit, 10% of daily calories, you will only have 15 to 20g of fat per day. How much fat is actually consumed per day on this diet is also a matter of interpretation. As you can see, there are very radical forms and milder ones that are based on official health-related recommendations.

In order to get as few grams of fat per day, dishes are prepared with little fat: lean meat is boiled instead of fried, low-fat yogurts are consumed and high-fat foods such as butter, pure oils, nuts and cream are avoided. Instead there are on the Low fat diet Nutrition plan things like low-fat margarine, often industrially processed low-fat and light products, more carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables. This is exactly where part of the problem lies Low fat diet : People usually think in too black and white and only the macronutrient fat is avoided. Too little attention is paid to the quality of the food and sugar in low-fat products.

Low fat diet: advantages and disadvantages

If you have the Low fat diet If you don't do it too radically and stick to at least 30 to 40g of fat per day, it can actually lead you to faster weight loss in a short period of time. These are sometimes unavoidable for competitive athletes who need to reach the correct weight for their weight class before a competition or a bodybuilder who wants to reduce their body fat to a minimum. It can also be helpful to minimize dietary fats from time to time to cleanse the intestines. In the carb cycling diet, which is often used by bodybuilders and in the fitness world for aesthetic goals, high-fat and high-carb days are alternated. This can also be beneficial for the metabolism and since there are regular days with more fat, the risk of a deficiency in essential fatty acids and the prevented absorption of fat-soluble vitamins is low.

If the benefits are really sustainable, then this low-fat diet should never be carried out radically in the long term, i.e. no more than one to two weeks at a time with a maximum of 15g to 20g of fat daily. In addition, care must be taken to ensure that little sugar is consumed and that industrially processed low-fat foods are not used. Otherwise it is Low fat diet Rather not recommended, as it involves some risks and is often significantly less effective than the low carb diet...

Low fat or low carb diet – which is more efficient?

The low carb diet has already been described in more detail in the article on “ Keto diet and ketosis ”. Every day – the other way round as with the Low fat diet – consumed a lot of fats and a maximum of 30-40g of carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates are not essential for the body - it can produce them, or a substitute product, from other substances if they are not supplied through food. This is different with fats: There are numerous essential fatty acids that the body cannot synthesize itself and that must be consumed through food. For example, omega-3 fatty acids are among these essential fats. In addition, the intestinal mucosa needs the right fats to maintain its protective layer. All other cell membranes also consist of a lipid layer.

Fats are also the basis for all steroid hormones, which means DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and vitamin D3 are dependent on the macronutrient. The hormonal cascade can be severely affected by a long-term low-fat diet, which can have many negative consequences - both physical and mental. With a radical Low fat diet A vitamin deficiency is also inevitable: vitamins A, K and D are fat-soluble and cannot be absorbed without fats. You can read more about fats in the article “ Why fat is not the same as body fat ”.

Conclusion on the low fat diet

A long-term, heavily reduced-fat diet can have dangerous health consequences and is also significantly more inefficient than other forms of nutrition when it comes to achieving body fat reduction goals. However, it can Low fat diet as an interval solution, i.e. give your metabolism new positive stimuli with a low fat week or alternating low and high fat days. In addition, it definitely makes sense to greatly reduce industrially processed fats and trans fats and instead use natural fats and native oils.

1 DGE: reference values ​​fat. [; February 18, 2021].

Ines Schulz
Ines Maria Schulz, born on December 1st, 1992 in Basel, Switzerland, also completed her Master of Education in biology and WAH there, laying the foundation for the understanding of physiology and anatomy as well as nutrition. She is also a trained primary school sports teacher. For two years she has been a coach at MTM Personal Training, the most successful personal training studio in Berlin. There she supports customers every day who want to exploit their maximum potential in terms of mental and physical health and performance. In cooperation with doctors like Dr. Dominik Nischwitz and a laboratory for intestinal health as well as the constant exchange within the team, she can provide her customers with optimal advice about training, nutrition, micronutrients and lifestyle. She has already written a breakfast book and a large part of a lifestyle booklet for MTM. She also writes the weekly newsletter, which publishes nutritional tips and recipes she has created. Ines has completed seminars and certificates with a variety of successful coaches and specialists and is constantly expanding her skills. The young trainer has been writing blog articles for Supz Nutrition since January 2019.

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