Take a walk down the aisles in your favorite supermarket and you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to low-fat or fat-free options, be it for desserts, biscuits, cheese, milk, or ready-made meals. If you’re thinking that by filling your basket with these, you’re doing your body a great favor, think again. The same goes for those who opt for diets that are devoid of butter, tuna, full-fat milk, and eggs.
The truth is, by consuming these foods, you’re just asking for a bigger waistline and bigger risks of diabetes and heart-related problems.
7 Ways How Low-Fat Diets Make You Fat And Unhealthy
Most of us think that ingesting something would increase its levels in your body. For most nutrients, this is quite true. Consuming fats by itself, however, don’t make you fat. In fact, here are some ways that a low-fat diet can cause you more harm than good.
1. Poor Brain Function
A large part of your brain is made up of fat and it is essential for the body to supply it with a steady stream of fatty acids so it can continue performing optimally. In addition to this, cholesterol is an essential nutrient that aids in neuron functioning. Since the brain cannot synthesize its own fats, we eat a diet full of healthy fats so it can take what it needs. This is why some of the popular brain-boosting foods are all full of healthy fats.
This means that a low-fat diet fuels the risk of poor brain performance, low energy levels, and mood swings.
2. High Risk Of Anxiety And Depression
There is a good reason that consuming omega-3 fatty acids in the diet along with supplemental polyunsaturated fats can show a marked improvement in people showing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Fatty acids play a big role in higher brain functions that regulate moods. Hence, eating healthy fat sources is a major part of an anti-depression diet. Some neurotransmitters like endocannabinoids are manufactured from fatty acids, which further suggests that fatty acid metabolites acquired from dietary fat can have a significant impact on the central nervous system.
Thus, eating a low-fat diet might only serve to aggravate your depression symptoms.
3. High Risk Of Insulin Resistance And Diabetes
Insulin And Glucagon – When you consume carbohydrates, your body starts breaking the digestible compounds into sugar which then enters the bloodstream, thus raising the blood sugar levels.
This then prompts the pancreas to start producing insulin, a hormone that stimulates cells to absorb the sugar in the blood so it can be used for energy or storage, thus causing the blood sugar levels in the bloodstream to fall. Once this happens, the pancreas starts manufacturing another hormone that pushes the liver to start releasing stored sugar, called glucagon. This exchange, between insulin and glucagon, is what ensures that cells throughout the body, particularly the brain cells, have a healthy, steady supply of sugar.
Insulin Resistance – Your body’s cells start building a resistance to insulin naturally over the years. This means that the pancreas has to release more insulin to keep your body’s glucose or sugar levels at a healthy level. This, in medical terms, is called ‘insulin resistance’.
How Carbohydrates Affect Insulin And Cause Diabetes – Carbohydrates have a high glycemic index, which means they rapidly release sugars after digestion. This promotes a rapid release of insulin in the body, in turn, increasing cellular insulin resistance. The longer you consume refined carbohydrates, the more your cells will fight insulin until they stop responding to it altogether. This is when the body starts storing this excess sugar in the form of fat, which causes you to become overweight and diabetic. Since low-fat diets are high in carbohydrate content, they can spike your insulin resistance and aggravate your diabetic condition over a period of time.
Having a diet that is high in fat generally tends to be much lower in carbohydrates and sugar, which is therefore extremely beneficial for lowering the risk insulin resistance and in the prevention of diabetes.
4. Weight Gain And Binge-Eating
Low-fat diets are high in carbohydrate content. The digestion of refined carbohydrates causes your insulin levels to spike and also results in a sharp drop in your blood sugar levels, thereby making you hungry faster. This will, in turn, make you suffer from frequent hunger pangs, where you’ll be tempted to reach out for sugary snacks. You’re thus not only eating more throughout the day but also taking in more sugar than your body needs.
A diet that is high in healthy fats is much lower in carbohydrate content and will keep you full for longer since fats are the toughest to digest. This way, you can focus on eating healthy meals that will allow for slower digestion and prevent you from binge-eating through the day.
5. Compromised Heart Health
It is well-known that heart risks and coronary heart diseases are all caused more by inflammation (which is the root cause of most diseases) than by high fat or cholesterol consumption. Furthermore, the consumption of dietary monounsaturated fats fuels healthy blood lipid profiles, brings down cholesterol levels naturally, regulates blood pressure and glucose levels, and improves insulin sensitivity.
Low-fat diets are more likely to contain refined carbs, lots of sugar, low-quality proteins and processed vegetable oils, which are all constituents of an inflammatory diet. This kind of a diet may be low in fat, but in reality, is actually far more harmful to your heart than an anti-inflammatory diet that’s full of healthy fats.
6. Hormonal Imbalance
Consuming healthy fats is the best way to balance your hormones out naturally. Cholesterol and healthy fats play a vital role in building hormones and cellular membranes. Some types of fats also have antioxidant-like functions and are precursors to some important neurotransmitters such as vitamin D, testosterone, and estrogen, and brain-supporting molecules.
Low-fat diets may, therefore, cause an increased risk of hormonal issues and infertility in women, and may even cause numerous menstrual issues.
7. Gut-Related Problems
A healthy gut is strongly connected to a healthy brain. Thus, a diet that naturally furnishes the body with a healthy supply of fatty acids and fiber, promotes not just a sharper brain, but also a healthier gut. While there is no concrete evidence to state how fatty acids affect gut bacteria, it is known that a diet that maintains a healthy sugar balance in the body keeps gut bacteria well-balanced as well. Thus, eating plenty of high-fiber plant foods along with healthy fats can feed the bacteria, and also maintains the optimal balance needed to reduce or lower inflammation.
Healthy Fats To Include In Your Diet Today
A diet that is healthy in fats should be loaded with monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats (especially omega-3s and some omega-6s), and saturated fats. These have an anti-inflammatory action on the body, can help protect you from heart diseases, and can promote good brain function and healthy cell growth. These are found in foods such as:
- Nuts And Nut Butters – Walnuts, almonds, pistachios
- Seeds – Pumpkin, Sunflower, Flax, Chia
- Fish – Salmon, Tuna
- Dairy Products – Full-fat milk, full-fat yogurt, parmesan cheese
- Lean Meats – Pork, Beef, Chicken
- Dark Chocolate
On a final note, fats make our food more palatable and tasty, therefore it seems a pity to remove these essential nutrients from our diet altogether. Eating healthy doesn’t necessarily mean eating food that doesn’t make you enjoy your meals. It is, therefore, best to stick to a good, balanced diet that includes healthy fats that will not just keep your health in tip-top shape, but will also give you a well-satisfied, happy tummy!