• Reduced Fat Intake Alone (Without Dieting) Can Lead to Significant Weight Loss
A new study published in the British Medical Journal demonstrated that individuals can lose notable weight simply by reducing their total fat intake without engaging in a strict dieting plan. The report was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) following a request to update their guidelines on total fat intake. The results are expected to be crucial in making global recommendations. Manipulation of energy density has been investigated in previous research, and its role in weight management is well-documented. This is primarily based on the fact that people generally consume a similar weight of food during a given meal, regardless of macro-nutrient composition. If a smaller relative percentage of the meal is fat, the caloric density, and therefore total caloric intake, will be lower. Furthermore, moderate caloric restriction via reduced fat intake is believed to be the best dietary weight loss strategy for athletes or other highly-active individuals, as carbohydrate intake can be maintained, resulting in optimal glycogen storage and recovery.
The systematic review implemented in the aforementioned study included results from 33 randomized controlled trials involving 73,589 men, women, and children from North America, Europe, and New Zealand. Comparisons were made between participants who consumed less fat than usual (intervention group) and participants who consumed their usual amount of fat (control group). The impact of this behavior on weight and the waist line was measured after at least six months, and then at regular intervals. Researchers found that the individuals who ate less fat saw an average reduction in body weight of 1.6kg, BMI by 0.56kg/m², and their waist circumference decreased an average of 0.5cm. All of these effects were demonstrated in trials in which weight loss was not the intended outcome, suggesting they can occur in individuals following a normal diet. Lead researcher Dr. Lee Hooper, explained that the weight reduction was consistent among the participants that consumed less fat; the ones who cut back more on their fat intake experienced greater relative weight loss. Dr. Lee states, “The effect isn’t dramatic, like going on a diet. The research specifically looked at people who were cutting down on fat, but didn’t aim to lose weight – so they were continuing to consume a normal amount of food. What surprised us was that they did lose weight, their BMI decreased and their waists became slimmer. On top of this, they kept their weight down over at least seven years. There isn’t a specific goal, the more fat you cut down, the more your weight falls.” The team did not consider different types of fat during the review, but recommended that saturated fat should be the first to be minimized primarily due to its association with heart disease and stroke. “This means having low fat milk and yogurt, cutting down on butter and cheese, and cutting the fat off meat. Most importantly have fruit instead of fatty snacks like biscuits, cake and crisps. And remember, this isn’t a diet, so don’t take it to extremes, but work out a way of eating that you can stick to permanently,” Dr. Lee recommends. Co-author Prof. Carolyn Summerbell clearly described the take-home message associated with the study: “A healthy diet is a way of eating that people can sustain over time. That’s the trick, to find a comfortable way to eat that you can stick to for life which helps you maintain your weight. Cutting down on fat will help.”
Reference: ‘Effect of reduction total fat intake on body weight: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials and cohort studies‘ is published in British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Friday, December 7, 2012.
Reference: NCSF E-News January Issue http://www.ncsf.org
authored by: Willie Harris, Certified Personal Trainer