By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
A recent study published earlier this month has spurred a lot of talk about low carb diets. Let’s take a look at the findings and find out what it means for you.
About the Study
So what do these findings this mean for you?
This study sheds some light on the importance of healthy fats both for heart health and for weight loss and maintenance. Often dieters will try to cut back on fat (and even healthy fats) due to the notion that high-fat foods are “fattening.”
Well, I have news for you! Anything in excess can be fattening (even carrots!); foods that contain healthy fat are satiating and can help to promote feeling fuller for longer, which is essential for helping to promote portion control for weight loss.
Although this study may suggest that saturated fat isn’t quite as bad for us as we have once thought (given that the low carb group had unrestricted fat and may have included foods with higher saturated fat), I’d rather focus on recommending healthy fats and oils over saturated fat-containing foods like butter. Lastly, a major plus on the higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet was the benefit to blood lipids and improvement of triglycerides.
Tips for choosing fats:
Though the findings of this study lean more favorably in the direction of low carbohydrate intake for weight loss, it’s important to put into perspective how few carbohydrates the study included — about 2 apples per day total. It’s also important to discuss the potentially negative side effects of so few carbohydrates, including inadequate fiber and a huge reduction on total phytonutrients daily (because most fiber and phytonutrients come from plants that are mostly comprised of carbohydrates).
These points are important given that research has suggested that diets high in fiber (25+ grams per day) have been associated with reduced risk of colon cancer and diverticulitis. Additionally, research has also suggested positive benefit from antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties found in colorful plant-based foods. That said, there is nothing wrong with limiting intake of grains, refined carbohydrates and certainly processed carbohydrates.
Shifting the diet to get all or most of your daily carbohydrates from plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables (mostly vegetables) and a small amount of grains may be a positive way to reduce carbohydrate intake that may also help to promote healthful waistline.
Tips for choosing carbohydrates: