Low Calorie/Low Fat Diets
Low calorie diets are essentially low fat diets. They work on the basis that fat has approximately 9 calories per gram and carbs have approximately 4 and, therefore, if you cut out fat from your diet (or reduce it dramatically) you are automatically reducing your calorie intake. We then have the same problems that we face with a low calorie diet…
What low calories/low fat diets are effectively telling you to do is to drive from Scotland to Cornwall in the UK, or from the West to the East Coast of America, but without putting enough fuel in the car to do so (“Eat less”). Worse than that, you are invariably told to ‘flog the car’ even harder, so that it will conk out even sooner than it would have done, had you driven it to conserve energy (“Do more”).
If a car mechanic seriously told you to do this to your car you would think they were mad and yet millions of people in the ‘developed’ world are deliberately trying to run their bodies on less fuel than they need, every single day.
This is the very idea of the low calorie/low fat diet – take in less fuel than you need. The theory is that your body will make up for the calorie deficit by burning fat that you have stored already, but it is not as simple as this. Your body first and foremost is a survival machine. The human body has developed over hundreds of thousands of years and it has survived and adapted to far more challenging things than calorie counting. The body doesn’t know that you have read a diet book and it thinks you are starving and it will do anything it can to keep you alive.
The book “Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight” takes you through the 3 direct things that happen when you follow a low calorie diet and the 3 indirect things and how every one of the unavoidable responses of the body to eating less works against you to keep you alive and to protect against weight loss.
Fat is also an essential part of the human diet. There are three macronutrients – carbs, fat and protein. Macronutrient is just the collective term for these three things. Fats and protein are essential for our body repair and maintenance, at the level of every single cell. Carbs are not essential. Carbs are the easiest macronutrient from which the body can get energy, but the body will turn fats and proteins into energy in the absence of carbs.
People who cut fat substantially out of their diet suffer with dry skin, brittle hair and nails. The cell repair functions of the body are impaired. Think, women especially, about how much effort you put into moisturising your skin – you can moisturise it so much better from the inside by having a good level of fat in your diet. (Drinking plenty of water is also invaluable).
Fat has been shown to have a much more effective level of satiety, so people feel fuller for longer when they have had fat in their meals. Try for yourself one day having an omelette for breakfast vs. cereal and see how much longer you can manage without wanting more food. Fat has a natural appetite regulation – try eating a bucket of popcorn or sweets and then try eating more than 2 large pork chops. We just have a far more natural appetite mechanism when it comes to real food.
The other key aspect about eating fat is that fat/proteins, like meat, fish, eggs etc, have no impact on our body’s need for insulin. We can eat a steak and the pancreas has no need to release insulin. We eat any carb e.g. a piece of fruit, or a cereal bar, and the body immediately MUST release insulin, to return our blood glucose level to the normal range. If the body doesn’t get this insulin release exactly right, we can release too much and our blood glucose level can end up lower than it was before we ate the carb. We then want another carb to get our blood glucose level up again and we are on the well known roller coaster of eating carbs and not being able to stop.
The USA, UK, Australia and NZ have spent the past thirty years testing low calorie/low fat diets, with tragic consequences – obesity has increased six fold in the UK, as an example, such that approximately one quarter of the population of all these ‘developed’ nations are now obese. Whatever diet you follow, don’t let it be low calorie/low fat!