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For many years a diet that was low in fat was recommended as the perfect way to stay slim and maintain a healthy heart. Recently there has been a cultural move towards increasing healthy fats and cutting carbs but for many people their DNA may be better suited to keeping dietary fat low.

For many years a diet that was low in fat was recommended as the perfect way to stay slim and maintain a healthy heart. Recently there has been a cultural move towards increasing healthy fats and cutting carbs but for many people their DNA may be better suited to keeping dietary fat low.

 

Variation in a gene associated with high levels of the body’s hunger hormone can lead to us craving high fat foods. People with this gene variation on both chromosomes are 70% more likely to be obese.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. A low fat, higher carb diet with plenty of exercise could be really helpful for weight loss as well as improving general health and wellbeing.

 

What is a low fat diet?

Fat is a very calorie dense food source containing 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories in carbohydrates and protein. Low fat diets take advantage of this fact and restrict fat intake, avoiding oil and butter and choosing lower fat dairy alternatives. Meals are bulked up with fruit, vegetables and plenty of grains especially higher fibre whole grains. Popular examples include Slimmers’ World, Weightwatchers and the Rosemary Conley diets.

 

How do they work?

To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat. Low fat foods have fewer calories, so by exercising and eating less than your body burns you will lose weight.

 

What should I eat?

Choose foods with a lower fat content: lean meat and poultry, fish and pulses. Fruit, vegetables and pulses of all kinds can be eaten freely, so this way of eating can be perfect for vegans. Select low fat alternatives such as skimmed milk, cottage cheese and yoghurts wherever possible. Grains including rice, oats and wheat can be eaten and will help satisfy hunger.

 

What should I avoid?

Stay away from all fats. That means saying no to butter, oils, mayonnaise and rich salad dressings. Creamy sauces, cheese and fatty cuts of meat should also be avoided. Make sure you remove skin from chicken, cut off visible fat and try and grill rather than fry, to let any fat drip well away. You don’t have to completely ban sugar- but too many sweet treats will send your calories soaring, so eat in moderation.

 

The Good

This way of eating can be very flexible, allowing you to adapt to most situations. One or two cheats can easily be compensated for. Recent research has shown that a low fat and higher carbohydrate approach can be an effective way to lose body fat even when dietary sugar levels were higher.

The Bad

Eating a diet too low in fat can affect levels of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat in our food can also help us feel full and satisfied, without it there may be a tendency to binge.

 

And the ugly

Low fat products can be stuffed full of artificial flavourings and sugar to try and improve the taste. Avoid these by choosing foods that are naturally lower in fat

 

A sample day

Breakfast: Porridge made with skimmed milk and blueberries, orange juice.

Lunch: Wholemeal sandwich with lean chicken and salad and an apple.

Supper: Pasta in a tomato sauce with tuna and vegetables. Low fat yoghurt.

Snacks: Crispbreads, rice cakes, fruit or crudités

 

If you’re eating out: Choose lean cuts of meat, fish or poultry with vegetables and rice or potatoes. Pasta with tomato sauce is lower in fat than cheesy or creamy recipes and if you’re ordering salad ask them to hold the dressing.

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Diet Low Fat Diet Nutrition DNAFit Genetics

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