Low Fat Diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
A low-fat diet is normally not considered healthy, but there are circumstances when it is needed.
There can be some short-term weight loss benefits, but overall we all need a certain amount of fats to remain healthy and vital. However, some people handle certain fats better than others, so it is worth exploring this diet if you have trouble digesting fats.
There are of course good fats and bad fats, but this is about a low-fat diet for those who have trouble with fats, be it due to gall bladder dysfunction or removal, or simply because a low-fat diet feels better for your body.
For example, I just can’t tolerate lamb fat. I love the taste of lamb, but because its fat content is marbled throughout the meat it is still high in fat, even though I remove any visible fat. I feel nauseated and uncomfortable and find it difficult to remove it from my body for days (constipation) but I can tolerate lots of coconut oil, nuts and seeds very well.
On the other hand, my husband Rod enjoys and handles lamb quite comfortably, yet not so much with coconut cream or certain nuts like cashews and macadamias.
But as an interesting side note, I was at the farmers markets one day and a guy asked if I’d like to try a sample of grass-fed lamb. I explained I couldn’t eat lamb and he guaranteed there would be no issues because the lamb was grass-fed. I tried a sample, felt ok and ate 2 whole lamb kebab sticks. Normally that would be a disaster, but all was good.
I discovered that lamb or any meat/animal raised on grass is easier to digest than animals raised or ‘finished’ on grain which is harder to digest.
If you have trouble digesting fats, this diet could help you because it excludes the higher fat foods. If you find that you can handle some fats better than others, then feel free to add these back into your diet and look into the grass-fed versions of your favourite meat.
We are all different in how we digest certain macro nutrients, but provided you understand your body and eat foods that feel right, then you should be fine.
Reasons for a low-fat diet
- Pancreatic disorders
- Gall bladder stones, obstruction and inflammation
- Weight loss, limiting calories
- Enzyme deficiency issues or lack of enzymes to break down fat
- To help reduce cholesterol and fatty plaque build-up in arteries
- Most fruits and vegetables – however avocados and coconut are high in fat
- Lean cuts of red meat and meats naturally low in fat like pork – the fat is all on the outside and can be cut off easily, compared to meat that has fat marbled throughout like lamb and some beef
- Chicken breasts without the skin and steamed or cooked in broth
- White fish – dark fish have a high fat content which are good fats, but it depends on your tolerance levels for fat
- Sprouted legumes and beans – easier to digest when sprouted
- The way you cook food can have a huge impact on the fat content. If you cook in oil or fat you add more fat to your diet. Try a light spray of oil or just use a small amount of water to steam food.
- Cooking on a griller/broiler or dry roasting helps. Microwave foods don’t need oils or fats, only a little water, and use a suitable microwave safe container. Steaming food is great and for stir-fry’s, try a little stock water instead of oil or fat. There are also sous vide cooking appliances (the technique of cooking in a special plastic bag in water).
- Cut off visible fat from any meats and avoid skin as there is quite a lot of fat under the skin. Choose low fat cuts of meats and white fish and seafood, all of which are naturally low in fat.
- Avoid packaged ‘low fat’ foods as these are often high in sugar, which can be worse than fat.
- Avoid using spreads, butter, margarine, oil for cooking or salad dressings, mayonnaise, condiments containing oils, many nuts, seeds, avocado, oily fish, and coconut products.
- Check the fat content level on packet foods. 5g/0.17oz is equal to a teaspoon of fat (depending on the substance).
Before you commence your diet, see your medical or health care professional for qualified guidance about what foods and supplements are best for your body. While on the diet do not stop any medications or supplements previously prescribed unless advised otherwise by your medical or health care professional.
During the early stages of a new diet, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or body aches, which may occur because your body is detoxifying. However, if you are unsure about a symptom at any time, check immediately with your medical or health care professional.