Fat-free or low-carb: Which helps weight loss?
When we're trying to lose weight, we want it to happen quickly. Will having a fat-free diet help? What about reducing carbohydrates?
A small amount of fat in your diet is essential for good health. Fat provides essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and is required for the production of many hormones.
All fat is high in energy (kJ) but some fats are harmful to health, while others are beneficial.
The harmful fats are saturated and trans fats. These include animal fats (the white fat on meat), chicken skin and coconut as well confectionery and many processed foods.
The beneficial fats are the unsaturated ones (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) found in olive, canola and rice bran oils, as well as nuts, seeds and avocadoes.
For weight loss, include only a small amount of fat from healthy sources.
Cutting down on
Carbohydrate is an essential fuel that your body needs when you are resting. Carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cereals also provide valuable fibre, vitamins and minerals.
A low-carbohydrate diet is not healthy for your body in the long term. Without carbohydrate for fuel, your body ends up turning on itself and using up your own body protein (that is, your muscles) for fuel.
The best way to get your weight down is to focus on being more active and reducing portion sizes, alcohol and high-fat foods and eating lower-GI carbohydrates for sustained energy.