Standard Low Fat Diets

food

Examples:  Dr. Oz, The Zone®, Michael Roizen, ChefMD®, Bob Greene.   The belief that eating fat and cholesterol makes us fat and unhealthy became popular in the 1970's. Find out if it's true...

STRATEGY: Low fat, low cholesterol, high fiber

FOODS:
All kinds of foods

POTENTIAL BENEFITS:

Sweets and snack foods allowed (psychologically reassuring)

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS:

These diets tend to be high in carbohydrates of all kinds, and processed/artificial foods are usually allowed. These are typically high-insulin diets, which have the potential to put health at risk in a number of ways, especially for carbohydrate-sensitive people.

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This diet is not necessarily designed for weight management, although many people try to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight by using a low-calorie version of this diet. This diet is low in fat, low in cholesterol, low in meat, and high in fiber. It includes all kinds of modern foods, such as breads, cakes, cookies, etc., but the idea is that you should choose high-fiber, low-fat versions of these types of foods. Typical recommendations include:

  • Choosing a low-fat bran muffin instead of a pastry
  • Choosing skim milk or nonfat yogurt instead of whole milk or full-fat yogurt
  • Choosing egg whites over whole eggs
  • Choosing whole wheat bread over white bread
  • Choosing vegetable oils over butter
  • Choosing fruit juice over soda
  • Choosing a low-fat pasta dish over a steak

Unfortunately, these diets don’t pay much attention to sugar, flour, and other refined carbohydrates, since the primary focus is on reducing meat, fat, and cholesterol, which proponents of these diets believe are the much worse for your health than carbohydrates are. The belief that fat clogs your arteries and makes you fat is a really tough one to let go of, because it sounds so logical. However, if you wander around the rest of this website you will find plenty of information pointing out the many health dangers of refined carbohydrates, and plenty of information supporting the notion that meat, animal fat, and cholesterol are not dangerous.  In fact, low-fat dairy products may actually be less healthy than high-fat dairy products because they cause insulin levels to spike.

BOTTOM LINE ABOUT LOW FAT / LOW CHOLESTEROL DIETS:

A low-fat/low cholesterol diet does have some advantages over the “Western” or Standard American Diet (SAD) —not because it is low in fat or cholesterol, but because it emphasizes high-fiber foods, which can be healthier than low-fiber alternatives. For example, depending on the choices you make, this diet can be higher in whole fruits and vegetables and lower in refined grains (such as white flour) and junk food than the typical Western diet. 

Last Modified: Jan 28, 2013 at 3:20pm