Think a low-fat diet is the best way to lose weight? Think again.
Fat has received a bad rap in the media over the last couple of decades. In fact, just the word "fat" invokes images of overweight sweat-pants clad couch-potatoes and greasy burgers, and it's mere mention elicits immediate emotions, ranging from shame to anger. In many circles fat has become a topic not to be discussed unless you're hoping for a heated conversation, like religion and politics. But that's not fair to fat; and in fact, it could be considered the most integral macronutrient at the table.
The first study I want to draw your attention to was published in July 2008. Basically, this study divided participants into 3 groups, with each group adhering (or not) to a specific diet: Low Fat-High Protein, Mediterranean (high fibre- high fat), and Low Carb-High Fat. All groups were subjected to the same amount of daily calories and same exercise levels. The results of the study are interesting and very telling:
All 3 groups lost weight over the 2 year study; the Low-Fat group lost an average of 3.3 kg, the Mediterranean group lost 4.6 kg, and the Low Carb-High Fat group lost an average of 5.5 kg. Perhaps the most interesting part, however, is the physiological effects seen in the Low Carb-High Fat group (and to a lesser extent, the Mediterranean group), that was not seen at the same significance in the Low Fat group. The subjects experienced a large increase in their HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), a significant drop in their LDL cholesterol (bad), and a serious drop in Triglycerides (whose presence in the bloodstream is an indicator for stroke).
*2 more points of interest from this study: 1) Adherence to diet was strongest within the Mediterranean group; 2) While average weight-loss was greatest within the Low Carb-High Fat group, women actually experienced the most successful weight-loss within the Mediterranean group; 3) The 'Rebound Effect' (phenomenon where dieters experience some weight-gain after the initial loss) was smallest within the Mediterranean group as well
The second studyexamines the consumption of fat on satiety (hunger). Spoiler alert: not all fats are created equal! The study shows that consumption of unsaturated fats, like those found in avocados, nuts, coconut oil, etc (ie. naturally occurring fats), decrease feelings of hunger, while saturated fats (found in things like potato chips and other fried foods - processed foods) do not. So the moral of the story is that if you want to feel less hungry (and one would then assume, eat less), include more unsaturated fats in your meals.
The final studyfor all you fitness nerds out there examines the consumption of fats and how they regulate hormone secretion within the body. This study found that while resistance training enhances post-exercise testosterone production in men (duh) for a short period, regular consumption of fats within a man's diet elevates and regulates baseline testosterone levels, and as we all know, testosterone is responsible for such wonderful things as muscle growth, fat burning, and sex drive. Studies have shown that fat consumption has a similar effect on estrogen in women (testosterone's feminine counterpart).