For decades, dietary guidelines have instructed us to eat a “low-fat" diet.
The way this diet is defined, is that fat is supposed to be around 30 percent of calories.
Many studies have shown that this diet is ineffective in the long-term.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
However, many proponents of low-fat diets claim that such a diet is highly flawed, because it isn't low-fat enough.
Many scientists and doctors who study low-fat diets claim that it needs to be around 10 percent fat in order to work.
As with low-carb diets, the difference between 30 percent and 10 percent can be massive.
This article takes a detailed look at “ultra" low-fat diets and their health effects.
What is an “Ultra" Low-Fat Diet?
This can be problematic, because fat serves several important functions in the body.
Additionally, fat makes food taste good. A diet that is very low in fat is not as pleasurable as a diet that is moderate or high in fat.
All that being said, studies show that an ultra low-fat diet can have very impressive benefits against several serious diseases.
Research on The Ultra Low-Fat Diet Started in the 1930s
Kempner was only the first of many to research the effects of ultra low-fat diets on health. Other well-known low-fat proponents include Roy Swank, Ancel Keys, Nathan Pritikin, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn and Dean Ornish.
Bottom Line: In the 1930s, Walter Kempner was the first to research and document the benefits of ultra low-fat diets. Many researchers have since followed in his footsteps.
Health Effects of Ultra Low-Fat Diets
Ultra low-fat diets have been studied against several serious diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity and multiple sclerosis.
Here is a summary of the findings.
Studies have shown that the ultra low-fat diet can improve several important risk factors for heart disease:
- High blood pressure (8, 9, 10).
- High blood cholesterol (8, 10, 11, 12).
- High C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation (8, 13).
One study of 198 patients with established heart disease found particularly striking effects. Out of the 177 patients who followed the diet, only one patient experienced a cardiac event (stroke) (14).
However, 13 of 21 (62 percent) of patients who didn't follow the diet experienced a cardiac event.
Bottom Line: An ultra low-fat diet can improve several risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It may also decrease the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetics did very well on the rice diet. In fact, one study found that 63 of 100 patients decreased their fasting blood sugar levels (20).
What's more, of the 72 patients that were dependent on insulin before the study, 58 percent of them were able to reduce or stop insulin therapy completely.
Bottom Line: Eating an ultra low-fat diet may have benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes, especially those not already dependent on insulin.
People with obesity may also benefit from eating a diet that is very low in fat.
Kempner used a form of the rice diet to treat obese patients with impressive results.
In one of his studies, he collected data from 106 massively obese patients and found that, on average, they lost 140 pounds (21).
That's not what you might expect from eating a diet mainly consisting of refined carbohydrates.
Bottom Line: Obese people may also benefit from eating an ultra low-fat diet. One study of 106 people documented tremendous weight loss success.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves in the eyes.
People with this disease may also benefit from an ultra low-fat diet. In 1948, Roy Swank started to treat MS with a regimen he called the Swank diet.
After 34 years, only 31 percent of those who stuck to his diet had died. On other hand, 80 percent of those who failed to follow his recommendations had died (24).
Bottom Line: One study reported that MS patients eating a diet very low in fat lived longer, compared to patients not following the recommended diet.
Why Do Ultra Low-Fat Diets Work?
Exactly how or why ultra low-fat diets improve health is not very well understood.
Some argue that the blood pressure lowering effects may not even be directly linked to eating a low-fat diet. The rice diet, for example, was extremely low in sodium.
Additionally, the diet was highly monotonous and bland, with a low “food reward" value. This may have caused the participants to unintentionally reduce their calorie intake.
Cutting calories tends to have major benefits for both weight and metabolic health, no matter whether you are cutting carbs or fat.
Despite being high in carbs, ultra low-fat diets are also able to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control in some people.
Ultra Low-Fat Diets May Work For Some People
An ultra low-fat diet may help treat some serious diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
But, in the long run, following a strict diet very low in fat is extremely hard. It is not very enjoyable to eat this way and the diet lacks variety.
You may also have to limit your intake of some very healthy foods, including unprocessed meat, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, extra virgin olive oil and full-fat dairy.
So, while this diet may benefit certain people with serious health conditions, it isn't likely to go mainstream anytime soon.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
- Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial Into Agency Reports ... ›
- Climate Denier Is Named to Leadership Role at NOAA - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.
Did you know that nearly 30% of adults do, or will, suffer from a sleep condition at some point in their life? Anyone who has experienced disruptions in their sleep is familiar with the havoc that it can wreak on your body and mind. Lack of sleep, for one, can lead to anxiety and lethargy in the short-term. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, there are proven natural supplements that can reduce insomnia and improve quality sleep for the better. CBD oil, in particular, has been scientifically proven to promote relaxing and fulfilling sleep. Best of all, CBD is non-addictive, widely available, and affordable for just about everyone to enjoy. For these very reasons, we have put together a comprehensive guide on the best CBD oil for sleep. Our goal is to provide objective, transparent information about CBD products so you are an informed buyer.
The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill to boost clean energy while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are known pollutants and contribute to the climate crisis, as the AP reported.
- Renewable Energy Could Power the World by 2050 - EcoWatch ›
- Net Zero U.S. by 2050? House Dems Unveil Sweeping Climate ... ›
- Delayed Senate Energy Bill Promotes LNG Exports, 'Clean Coal ... ›
By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.