EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ULTRA-LOW-FAT DIETS
The ultra-low-fat diet is the kind of diet that confines the dieter’s consumption of fat to under 10 percent of daily calories. It is a spin-off from the traditional low-fat diet which restricts fat consumption to 30 percent of daily calorie intake.
Proponents of the ultra-low-fat diet are of the opinion that traditional low-fat diets are not that low enough in fat, opining that fat intake by a dieter needs to be less than 10 percent of total calories to produce health benefits and weight loss.
Since the ultra-low-fat diet is a spinoff of a low-fat diet, it is important to first understand what low-fat diets are.
What is a low-fat diet?
A low-fat diet restricts fat and cholesterol with the intention of losing weight and to reduce the occurrence of conditions such as obesity and heart disease. Proponents of low-fat diets have different recommendations as to the level of fat that should be consumed, but the average recommended fat consumption is 30 percent.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that limiting fat can help to prevent obesity as well as control saturated fat intake. The reason why proponents recommend low-fat diets is that fat provides a greater number of calories per gram as compared to the other major protein, nutrients, and carbs. Research does show that people who reduce their calorie intake by eating less fat lose weight, even though the weight loss is small, on average.
What is an ultra-low-fat diet?
Instead of the 30 percent recommended fat consumption of daily calorie intake, proponents of ultra-low-fat diets say dieters should eat only 10 percent.
This diet is mostly plant-based and allows for very limited intake of animal products. Because of this, it is usually very high in carbs while it is very low in protein. Carbohydrates usually make up around 80 percent of calories intake while protein and fat take up about 10 percent each of daily calorie intake.
Ultra-low-fat diets usually restrict the intake of animal products, such as meat, eggs, and full-fat dairy to the barest minimum. Often times, it also limits the intake of high-fat plant foods such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
Advantages of an ultra-low-fat diet
Several studies show that very-low-fat diets can lead to improvements in people living with type 2 diabetes. A recent study of 100 participants with type 2 diabetes had them on a very-low-fat rice diet, and 63 out of the 100 participants showed a decrease in fasting blood sugar levels after a while. More than half of the people who were insulin dependent before the commencement of the study either stopped insulin therapy after the study or were able to reduce their insulin intake.
It has also been shown to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, as well as the optic nerves in the eyes. In 1948, Roy Swank began to treat MS patients with his so-called Swank diet and followed 150 MS patients for more than 50 years. At the end of 34 years, only 31 percent of those who followed his diet succumbed to the disease as compared to 80 percent of those who didn’t follow his recommendations.
Other benefits to be had from following this diet plan includes reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering high blood pressure and reducing high cholesterol levels.
But does it help you to lose weight?
Ultra-low-fat diets do help with weight loss, but only minimally.
First, it is a monotonous and bland diet and this may cause an unplanned reduction in calorie intake, since you may feel less inclined to eat more of an unrewarding food.
We all know that cutting calories usually have benefits for weight reduction, without regard for whether you’re cutting carbs or fat. So, it seems it doesn’t really matter that you are cutting fat, as long as you are cutting calories. Losing weight while following an ultra-low-fat diet may be related to drastically reduced calorie intake rather than decreased fat specifically.
One thing ultra-low-fat diets have been proven to accomplish is that they do help with health problems. They lower blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and have beneficial effects on type 2 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
A word of warning
Severely limiting fat can be problematic, because fat serves several important functions in the body. Fat is a major source of calories, helps to build cell hormones and membranes, and helps your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins D, A, E, and K.
We also know that fat makes food taste good. This means that ultra-low-fat diet meals are not usually as pleasurable to eat as those that have moderate or high-fat contents. And eating meals that are not so delicious day in and day out can get tiring. This means that it is very easy to renege on an ultra-low-fat diet, if only for the pleasure of eating a delicious meal.
We have come to the conclusion that while the ultra-low-fat diet may benefit certain people with serious health conditions who are trying to get better, it is rather unnecessary for most people.
And you should never forget that losing weight effectively is a combination of good diet and exercise, so always make sure to incorporate a good exercise routine into your daily life to lose the weight and keep it off.