Low Fat Diets Can Still Make You Fat
For years, popular diet books assured the chubby masses that a low-fat diet was
the key to weight loss. It's calorie density, not fat, that determines how many
calories people eat ," says Susan Roberts of Tufts University in Boston .
For 18 days, Roberts offered 14 people meals that were either low-fat (20
percent of calories from fat) or high-fat (40 percent fat). But, unlike other
studies comparing high-fat and low-fat diets, these two regimens had the same
amount of fiber, palatability, and calorie density (a food's calories divided
by its weight). "When we kept calorie density constant, people on the high-fat
diet ate no more calories than people on the low-fat diet ," says Roberts. But
her research doesn't let fat off the hook, because it's so calorie-dense. "Fat
is important to watch out for, but low-fat foods that are high in sugar like
Snack Well's cookies and Entenmann's cakes are also high in calorie density ,"
says Roberts's colleague Megan McCrory .
The Bottom Line Is That Low-Fat Diets That Are Loaded With Vegetables And Fruits
And Other High-Fiber, Low-Calorie Foods May Indeed Help Keep The Pounds Off.
Diets Filled With Calorie-Dense Low-Fat Cakes, Cookies, Ice Cream And Even
Bread, Pasta, And Crackers, May Not.
No Such Thing As Fattening Food ( Nutrition Made Simple Robert Crayon, M.S.,C.N.
When most people look at a food label the first two things they ask are: (1) How
many calories does it have, and (2) How much fat does it have? These factors
are not as important as the hormonal effects of food. More calories and more
fat may cause weight gain, but they do not always. Choosing food because of
their fat and calorie content is like making friends on the basis of IQ or
income levels. You choose your friends because of their overall effect on your
life, not because of their salary. Select foods for their overall effects as
well, and look beyond numbers like calorie or fat content.
When considering eating any food, you should ask only one question: What effect
will this food have on my metabolism? There are no fattening foods...only
fattening metabolisms. Your body's hormones and enzymes will decide whether the
food you eat will turn to fat. The following factors influence how well we burn
off the food we eat:
• Thyroid Hormone Levels
• Insulin Levels
• Growth Hormone Levels
• Amount Of Muscle Tissue
• Tissue Responsive To Hormones Like Insulin And Thyroid Hormone
• Number Of Fat-Burning Mitochondria In You Muscle Cells
• Levels Of Nutrients Needed For Fat Burning
Often, what keeps us from understanding nutrition is not that we lack the right
answers but that we ask the wrong questions. By merely looking at the calorie
and fat content of food, we miss the much larger issue of food's metabolic and
hormonal effect on the body. Too many calories and too much fat is undesirable.
Yet calorie and fat content are less significant than the hormonal reaction
that all foods cause. It is the lack of understanding of this hormonal effect
of food that keeps many people from losing weight.
In 1982 the Nobel Prize was given to scientists who made groundbreaking
discoveries about prostaglandins, a powerful class of hormones that control the
body. The most powerful effect foods have on your body is their effect on these
hormones and hormones like insulin. If insulin levels are high or
prostaglandins are imbalanced, weight loss can be difficult if not impossible.
What upsets prostaglandins and insulin the most are missing nutrients, a lack
of essential fatty acids, and consumption of refined carbohydrates, especially
sugar, which triggers insulin to store fat. When 26,473 Americans were studied,
it was found that those who ate the most nuts were the least obese. Nuts are
high in fat...a high quality, beneficial fat. Nuts stabilize blood sugar, lower
cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and provide satiety. They also provide the
nutrients and essential fatty acids needed to create the right prostaglandins
that stimulate weight loss. Fat-free cookies may have little fat and fewer
calories than nuts, but the sugar in them will raise insulin, imbalance blood
sugar, stimulate your appetite, upset prostaglandins, and raise cholesterol.
Think of food in three-dimensional terms, not just according to the statistics
on the label.
If you could control the actions of the hormones in your body, you could eat all
the food you want and still lose weight. When you put together a nutrition
program for weight loss, therefore, you want to select the foods that will help
create the right hormonal balance.
Now deceased, Robert Crayon, M.S., C.N. was a clinician, researcher, and
educator who was called "one of the top ten nutritionists in the country" by
"Self" magazine (1993). He was also the associate editor of "Total Health"
magazine and president of "Designs For Health", an educational institution that
since 1989 has trained countless health care practitioners in the latest
findings in clinical nutrition.