Do I have to cut fat from my diet to lose weight?

Low-fat diets were a significant trend in the 1980s and 1990s, but in today’s day and age, we know that fat isn’t the devil. Once upon a time, it was believed that consuming less fat would lower your risk of many diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

From a mathematical standpoint, it made sense that cutting fat would help you lose weight. Protein and carbohydrates contain approximately 4 calories per gram, whereas fat contains approximately 8 grams. However, in reality, it’s not that simple! Fats—think olive oil, nuts/seeds, avocado—tend to be very satiating. This means they help you feel satisfied after a meal. When you feel satisfied after a meal, you are more likely to stop eating. In contrast, if you eat a meal entirely made up of carbohydrates—imagine a large plate of rice—you are not likely to feel satiated, and if you do, it won’t be long before you feel hungry again.

So, while a mathematician might have thought that cutting fat would reduce the total calorie intake, this is not necessarily the case. Additionally, we know that certain fats are good for our health. Unsaturated fats are excellent for our heart and brain health and are found in oily fish, nuts/seeds, avocados, and olive oil.

These same fats also enhance the taste of food. When we enjoy the taste of a meal, we are more likely to feel satisfied. For example, a plain salad with chicken might not be very enjoyable. However, if we add an olive oil-based dressing, this meal can become much more enjoyable.

Therefore, we don’t need to eliminate fat from our diet, but we do need to enjoy it in a balanced way. Our diet should include protein, carbohydrates, AND fat.

Think:

  • PROTEIN: a palm-sized amount at each meal – chicken, beef, fish, eggs, dairy
  • CARBOHYDRATES: a copped hand amount at each meal – brown rice, brown bread, quinoa, lentils, sweet potato, potato
  • FAT: a thumb-sized amount at each meal – olive oil, nuts/seeds, avocado

References:
https://academic.oup.com/jhmas/article/63/2/139/772615

About the author

Cheyenne Holman

Cheyenne Holman

Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD)
Accredited Sports Dietitian
Certified Personal Trainer
Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher