Step-by-Step Guide to the Low-Fat Diet
July 02, 2019 / Chuck McPherson
We’ve all been told fast food is bad for us, but what does this actually mean? Fast good is generally high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and calories. When people talk about eating less fast food, what they’re really saying is to eat less fat.
What is the Low-Fat Diet?
A low-fat diet is a diet that restricts consumption of high-fat foods from certain animal, plant, and manufactured sources. Examples of foods that should be avoided include butter, cream, fatty cuts of meat, deep-fried foods, and some cooking oils.
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34% of daily calories in the average American diet are made up of fat, with 50% made up of carbohydrates and 16% of protein.
While there is no standard definition of a low-fat diet, health authorities recommend reducing fat intake to less than 30% of daily calories. Very low-fat diets generally contain about 10-15% fat content.
Fat contains around nine calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates and protein provide four calories per gram. Therefore, a low-fat diet enables a person to eat more food without consuming more calories.
What to Eat on a Low-Fat Diet
A low-fat diet is more about avoiding certain foods than eating certain foods. With that said, the following foods are low in fat and rich in essential vitamins and minerals:
- Fruits of almost every variety
- Leafy green vegetables, e.g. spinach, kale, collard greens
- Legumes, e.g. beans, peas, lentils
- Ancient grains, e.g. quinoa, bulgur, spelt
- Chicken breast
- White fish, e.g. cod, perch, haddock
- Low-fat dairy
- Egg whites
What Not to Eat on a Low-Fat Diet
The main thing to avoid on a low-fat diet is saturated fat, also known as “bad fats” because of their correlation with high cholesterol and heart disease. The following foods contain high amounts of saturated fats and should be avoided:
- Dairy, e.g. butter, cream, cheese, regular milk
- Meat, e.g. fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb, skin on chicken, and processed meats like sausages
- Certain animal-derived and plant-derived cooking oils, e.g. lard, palm oil
- Processed foods, e.g. snack foods, biscuits, cakes, and pastries
- Anything deep-fried
Pros of the Low-Fat Diet
Studies have shown that low-fat diets are as effective as low-carb diets at maintaining weight loss. Because fat is high in calories, reducing fat intake can lead to eating less calories which in turn can lead to reduced weight.
The other major benefit to a low-fat diet is that can help in promoting good cardiovascular health and preventing heart disease. It has long been known that high saturated fat intake correlates with higher cholesterol and a higher risk of heart disease. Therefore, consuming less saturated fat can help reduce cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
Cons of the Low-Fat Diet
The biggest criticism of low-fat diets is that reduced fat intake doesn’t on its own reduce weight. As mentioned, low-fat diets generally involve less cholesterol and fewer calories, which can help achieve weight loss. However, if you’re not careful, you may find yourself eating a low-fat diet that is high in cholesterol or calories. The reason for is that less fat can mean less tasty. To compensate for the lack of taste, food manufacturers often add ingredients like sugar, flour, and thickeners into their products. This can add calories, which can promote weight gain. Therefore, it’s important to read the packet before purchasing a food product.
Easy Low-Fat Meal Ideas
A low-fat diet might sound like a lot to handle, but the truth is it’s actually quite easy to follow a low-fat meal plan. Like any other diet, all that’s needed in order to successfully follow a low-fat diet is knowledge about what to avoid.
Here’s how the average day might look with a low-fat diet:
- Breakfast – Oatmeal or low-fat yogurt with fresh fruits
- Morning snack – Sliced bell peppers and carrots with a side of hummus
- Lunch – Chicken breast with a side of steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes drizzled with olive oil, lemon, and black pepper.
- With Lunch – Fruit smoothie with low-fat milk
- Afternoon snack – Mixed nuts and raisins
- Dinner – Smoked haddock with an egg-white and spinach salad
- Dessert – Home-made pecan pie with reduced sugar and low-fat vanilla ice cream
Low-Fat Diet Meal Plans
Sun Basket offers a range of healthy diet plans, including a Lean & Clean meal plan. This plan contains only lean proteins and clean ingredients to help you stay lean. While all of Sun Basket’s plans are generally low-fat, the Lean & Clean meal plan has a particularly strong focus on lean foods. It never contains any added sugar, gluten, soy, or dairy.
Each meal in Sun Basket’s Lean & Clean diet plan is carefully curated to contain just the right amounts of fats, carbs, and proteins. Each meal contains 20 grams protein or more and at least 5 grams fiber per serving in order to leave you feeling healthy but not hungry. Each meal contains about 550 calories per serving, which is a good amount if you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight.
Chicken breasts and parsley-pecan pesto with roasted beets and oranges (Sun Basket).
Diet to Go offers four subscription packages, all of them designed to help you lose weight. Each plan includes delivery of healthy, chef-prepared meals to your door every single week. Every meal is ready to heat and eat with no need to spend valuable time preparing or cooking the food.
The best thing about Diet to Go is the level of customization. When you subscribe, you get to pick your favorite meals, switch menu plans, and pause or start a plan whenever you like. There are also flexible delivery options and times. And best of all, every subscription includes free access to a health coach who you can turn to by phone or email any time you need advice.
Salmon and brussels sprouts (Diet to Go)
Nutrisystem is a meal delivery company dedicated to helping you eat healthy and lose weight. Each of its 4-week plans comes with breakfast, lunch, dinners, and snacks. Meals are designed to help you lose 1-2 lbs per week. If you’re not satisfied with your first order, Nutrisystem promises a 14-day money back guarantee.
With Nutrisystem, users get a choice of women’s, men’s, and vegetarian plans, each of which are divided into four differently priced packages. The most-basic package contains pre-selected, ready-made foods. The most-expensive package lets you choose from the full menu and also includes frozen foods and high-protein shakes.
Vegetable lasagna (Nutrisystem)