It may make no logical sense but the latest research shows that eating a high-fat diet may not actually make you fatter. It looks like there are even certain types of fat that can make you thinner. The answer for how to eat a high fat diet and still lose weight? The Mediterranean diet.
The study included both women and men. They ate a Mediterranean diet that is high in fat thanks to olive oil and nuts. The people eating this diet lost more weight and lost more inches from their tummy than people eating a low fat diet. This throws out everything most people thought they knew about high fat diets.
The Mediterranean diet has been the subject of studies before. Other studies have suggested that this diet, rich as it is in healthy fats and plant proteins, comes with several health benefits. The two key benefits are reducing the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes; two problems commonly associated with obesity. So it’s basically the most effective diet for weight loss. It helps you lose weight and removes the risks of problems associated with being obese. If the results of the study are to be believed.
Even though there are these health benefits obese people are hesitant to eat vegetable fats like olive oil and nuts. They feel that eating them will make their weight problems worse according to the head of the study Dr Ramon Estruch; internal medicine physician from the University of Barcelona.
The study would suggest that the opposite is true. It suggests that a diet filled with these dietary fats and vegetables, which is basically the Mediterranean diet in a nutshell, doesn’t lead to gaining weight. It actually helped people lose weight and lose more weight than people eating a regular low-fat diet.
Researchers in the study analysed the data from the PREDIMED trial. This was a five year study that looked at the effects eating a Mediterranean diet had on the heart. The study involved 7,500 people aged 55-80 and were almost all obese. All of them also either had type 2 diabetes or presented at least three risk factors of heart disease.
The people in the study were given one of three diets; the Mediterranean one including at least 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil a day, a different Mediterranean diet with three servings of nuts a week, and the regular control diet. Participants on the control diet were asked to avoid eating fat.
The study was part-funded by both the olive oil and nut industry. These industries didn’t play any role in designing the study however. They took no part in the study at all. They were not involved in collected and interpreting the data or writing the report. The researchers confirmed all of this in the study that was published June 6th in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
The researchers in the study found that after the five years passed the people in the olive oil group lost more weight than people in the control group. It was much more weight but it was still 1lb more on average than the people eating the control group diet. This was enough to count as a statistically significant difference; meaning it was due to the diet.
While the people in the nut group also lost more weight compared to the control group the difference wasn’t statistically significant. This means that it could be down to chance rather than the diet. It has to be a significant amount to be evidence that it was down to the diet.
People eating both versions of the Mediterranean diet also saw a significant drop in their waist sizes compared to the control group. Even though they were taking in more fat they were also losing more fat.
Estruch believes that the biggest finding to take from the study is that neither diet caused the participants to gain weight even though they were eating more fats. So don’t think that eating too much fat makes you fat. It looks like it’s only eating the wrong kinds of fat that contributes to weight gain and not all fats are created equal.
The researchers also noted that no one in the study was told to eat less calories but, despite this, still ended up eating less calories than they were eating before. The researchers said that this could have been caused by the filling effect of fat but that it wasn’t conclusive. It could have also been that the foods in the Mediterranean diet are naturally lower in calories rather than that people were eating less.
Estruch believes that, even though you need to balance the calories you eat with the calories you born, vegetable fats cause different effects on your weight than calories gained through animal fats.
Estruch has also responded to criticisms that all the people in the study were from the same background (overweight older Caucasians). He says that the study shows the Mediterranean diet can benefit people of any race, gender, age, or weight. It would take further research to confirm this but the evidence would suggest that it is true.
This is also not the first study to suggest that you don’t gain weight from eating a diet heavy in plant-based fats. There have been a number of studies that look into this phenomena.
The findings from this study back up claims from other observational studies that suggest that there is no connection between weight and the amount of fat in your diet. Dr Daruish Mozaffarian is a cardiologist and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. He was not involved with this study but he did write an editorial that was published with the study.
In his editorial he said that people should focus on eating healthy foods in general rather than focusing on eating less fat.