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Low-fat diets are associated with an increased risk of overweight

It is one of the most maligned and feared nutrients: fats. Diets high in fat are considered by many people as the source and cause of the epidemic of obesity and related diseases (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease …) that is rampant in many Western countries.

Therefore, one of the main medical recommendations for decades for those who suffer from excess weight has been to follow a diet low in fat, in which these suppose 30% or less of the total calories consumed.

However, in recent years, dozens of studies have challenged this strategy with their results, suggesting that low-fat diets are in fact associated with an increased risk of overweight, and that a more effective strategy would be to opt for low-carbohydrate diets.

The results of the Women’s Health Initiative

The last of these studies is part of a global research on women’s health after menopause, called the Women’s Health Initiative.

In this particular study, a follow-up was done to women who had participated in other phases of the research, to which four different dietary patterns were applied : a low-fat diet, a reduced-carbohydrate diet, a Mediterranean-style diet, and a diet following the standards recommended by the US Department of Agriculture (based on the consumption of vegetables, especially dark green, fresh fruit, whole grains, dairy products, vegetable proteins and seafood, etc).

According to his observations, the low-fat diet was associated with an increased risk of overweight in women with normal weight, are overweight or obese, and add that a diet low in carbohydrates can help reduce the risk of overweight in women who have already past menopause

It is not the only study that has thrown these same conclusions: here we analyze a total of 23 different studies that point in the same direction and that serve to conclude that perhaps the relationship between fat and overweight should be rethought.

Why do you need fats

Fats, like all nutrients, play an important role in our body, which needs them to function normally.

To begin with, fat is the main source of energy for our body to fulfill its functions. When we exercise or develop any activity, our body draws energy from the carbohydrates we have eaten. But after 20 minutes, he begins to burn calories from fat.

The fat is also necessary for our cells to be healthy, since it is part of the outer membrane that covers them. Likewise, fat is necessary to form myelin, the tissue that covers part of the nerves and is necessary for our nervous system to function properly.

The fat helps us regulate our body temperature, acting as an insulator of the outside temperature, and is necessary to keep the skin and hair healthy.

In addition, fat is necessary for the proper absorption of some vitamins. Vitamins A, E, D and K are soluble in fat, which means that it helps the intestine to absorb them from the food we eat and thus incorporate them into the body.

Women and fat

Body fat is especially important for women. Fat is necessary for the body to correctly produce different types of hormones, and scientific studies have shown that it has a special relationship with estrogen, a type of female hormone, and therefore with the menstrual cycle.

That is why adolescents with eating disorders and a very low level of body fat can suffer a delay in sexual development, with menstruation temporarily delaying or disappearing, usually until normal body fat levels are recovered.

This is also why menopause is a time when many women experience an increase or decrease in body fat levels, when they experience a change in their hormonal balance.


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