Dear Dr. Everett:
Which eating plan is better for weight loss, low fat or high fiber?
If you made a list of resolutions for 2015, chances are weight loss is at the top. Working out three to five times a week will help you increase your lean muscle mass and improve cardiovascular endurance, but to lose weight you have to (gasp) eat less. Yes folks, you have to diet. With so many diets out there, it is hard to pick one that is effective and doesn’t transform you into a cookie craving monster. Just this week US News and World Reports published the top diets of 2015. Many of the diets are variations on low fat or high fiber plans, but which one is most effective for weight loss?
Low Fat Diets
Let’s review a little basic nutrition first:
- Protein – 4 calories per gram
- Carbohydrates – 4 calories per gram
- Fat – 9 calories per gram
Over the years fat has earned a bad reputation by clogging the arteries of cheeseburger lovers and creating a niche market for high waisted leggings. Learn the difference between fats that help your body function properly and those that raise your blood cholesterol levels before you slash all fat from your diet. 20 to 35 percent of your calories should come from fat, so a 1200 calorie diet would have about 240 to 420 calories from fat a day. By choosing lean cuts of meat, lower calorie dairy products, (read the label to make sure that it does not have added sugar) small amounts of plant based oils and learning to love avocados (healthy Tex-Mex anyone?) you can lose weight and help improve your cholesterol level.
Fiber or roughage is the insoluble part of food that helps you digest food efficiently and effectively. It helps lower cholesterol and can control blood sugar levels. As a weight loss plan, high fiber is lower in calories and can help you feel full. That feeling of fullness, or satiety can help you stay on track and avoid dieting mishaps.
A high fiber meal may consist of a bowl of black bean soup, steamed broccoli and a scoop of Greek yogurt with a cup of raspberries.
The Winning Loser
Dr. Linda Everett says, “It is easier for most people to lose weight by cutting fat calories, but many times they end up consuming more sodium and sugar, especially if they rely on processed foods. A high fiber diet is a plan that can be more nutritionally sound and also lead to more permanent weight loss. Psychologically, a high fiber diet is more manageable because you are adding a variety of high fiber foods to your menu instead of eliminating foods that are high in fat. “