Fat myths busted

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAData debunks some popular myths about fats

The myth: low carb diets are best for weight loss.

Atkins, Paleo and other low carb diets were dealt a credibility blow by a recent study comparing low fat and low carb diets.  Obese study subjects were divided into two groups: low carb and low fat.  Both groups ate an overall lower calorie diet.  After 2 weeks, the low fat diet group had lost almost twice as much actual body fat compared to the low carb group.  While the low carb group lost slightly more weight (4 lbs vs 3 lbs), the authors attributed that to fluid loss.

Conclusion: eating carbs does not prevent weight loss.  Quite the opposite.  In the context of a low calorie diet, a high carb diet led to more loss of body fat.  Having debunked the myth of magical weight loss with low carb diets, the researchers stressed that the most important key to weight loss was still calorie restriction.  And the most important key to success was choosing a diet you can stick with.  If you’d rather include fresh fruit, vegetables and grain foods in your diet, you can still lose weight.  No need to gorge on meat, which gets old after a few days anyway.

The myth: saturated fat is actually healthy

Saturated fat is another controversial topic.  For years, we’ve been told to restrict intake of saturated fat, which is linked to heart disease.  Then some researchers started to question that connection, because reducing saturated fat intake didn’t always lower heart disease incidence.  Then other people jumped to the conclusion that saturated fat was harmless.  Then they took it a step further: saturated fat is healthy.  No surprise: butter sales went up.

That conclusion is a stretch. In fact, as a new review points out, it’s not that saturated fat is an innocent victim of over-zealous nutrition nannies.  It’s what people added into their diets when they cut out the saturated fat: sugars and refined carbs.  These foods have their own health issues.  Replacing hot dogs and cheeseburgers with cookies and low fat ice cream isn’t an improvement.

The best replacement for saturated fats are healthy fats from olive oil, nuts and other vegetable oils.  These are part of the Mediterranean Diet, which is linked to many health benefits.  It’s low saturated fat and low in sugar and refined carb foods.

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