Why Low-Fat Diets Don’t Work For Weight Loss

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For so many years, we’ve all heard that we should eat less fat or buy ‘low fat’ products.

So, why is this? Where did this idea come from?

This whole thing started back in the 1960s. At that time, a lot of people were getting heart disease, and everyone was looking for a way to fix this problem. That’s when the sugar companies paid for research that pointed the finger at fat.

This idea then made its way into the government’s food guidelines. These guidelines said that our diets should be mostly made up of carbs, have a moderate amount of protein, and be low in fat.

The thought behind this was that fat has more calories than carbs and protein. Since eating too many calories can lead to weight gain, they believed that eating less fat would help people maintain a healthy weight.

But did this really work? Did the people who followed a low-fat diet achieve their weight loss goals? The answer is no and I’ll explain why in this article.

The Problem With Low-Fat Foods For Weight Loss

When a product like milk for example is sold as low-fat, it automatically means that it is processed.

When you take away the fat from a food item, it has to be compensated with sugar otherwise the food will not have that filling effect.

When you consistently follow a pattern of eating low-fat products, you are depriving your body of the essential fat that it requires for various functions.

So when you eat something thinking it’s low fat and is helping you lose weight, in reality, it’s doing the exact opposite.

Low-fat products are often high in carbohydrates causing your blood sugar to go high, which raises your insulin and turns the extra sugar that you won’t use for energy into fat and thus it results in overall weight gain in the long term.

Eating full fat was never a problem until we were told by outdated research that eating saturated fat causes heart disease and weight gain.

Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, Eating in excess, and not having a healthy lifestyle makes you gain fat.

Our body uses dietary fat for energy, and when there is too much of it, it stores it as fat, just like it would with carbohydrates and Protein.

So you see, eating fat doesn’t necessarily mean bad, If you eat the wrong kind of fat, then yes that will cause problems, Like too much trans fat, or processed fat from deep-fried foods, processed meat, refined oils, etc.

Those are the kinds of fat, you want to avoid, just like with refined carbohydrates. Everything has to be in balance.

Foods To Eat And Not to Eat On a Low-Fat Diet

Here’s a table with some examples of foods to eat and avoid on a low-fat diet:

Foods to EatExamplesFoods to AvoidExamples
Leafy GreensKale, Spinach, Arugula, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Romaine LettuceFatty MeatsBacon, Sausage, Deli Meat, Ribs, Hot Dogs
FruitsAll fruits are generally low in fatProcessed FoodsChips, Cookies
Beans and LegumesBeans, Peas, LentilsHigh-Fat Dairy ProductsCheese, Butter
Wholemeal CerealsWhole Wheat Tortillas, Baked Crackers, Most Cold Cereals, Noodles, Oatmeal, RiceFried FoodsFrench Fries, Fried Chicken
Lean ProteinsTofu, Egg Whites, Lean Cuts of Meat, Tuna, Peas, Shrimp, Skinless Chicken or Turkey BreastFast FoodBurgers, Pizzas, Fried Chicken
Dairy ProductsFat-Free Cheese, Fat-Free or “Skim” Milk or Yogurt, Light or Fat-Free Cream Cheese, Low Fat Cottage Cheese, Milk, or YogurtOrgan MeatsLiver, Kidney, Heart
Miscellaneous FoodsMustard, Sauces Containing Skim Milk, Salsa, Vegetable Based Broth Soups, Popcorn, Honey, Jam, Light Salad DressingsHigh Fat SnacksWings, Ice Cream

Also Read: Is Egg Nog Good For Weight Loss?

Low-Fat Diet Example

here’s an example of a low-fat diet meal plan for a day:


  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon
  • ½ cup fresh berries
  • Coffee with nonfat milk


  • Tuna and cucumber wrap
  • A boiled egg
  • A quarter of a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt


  • ½ cooked spaghetti with tomato sauce
  • 3 oz lean ground beef meatballs
  • 1 cup cooked green beans


  • 1 cup mandarin oranges

Why do We Need Fat In General?

In a nutshell, every cell in our body requires fat, it provides a protective layer called the cell membrane which covers each and every cell in our body.

In fact, about 60% of our brain is comprised of fat, so when we eat low fat, Our body doesn’t have what it needs to make hormones, maintain proper immune function, and absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K which cannot be processed without fat.

The Reason You Dont Need a Low-Fat Diet For Weight Loss

The key word here is ‘need.’ I’m not saying you can’t lose weight on a low-fat diet. The problem is that this kind of diet can be too limiting. It makes you rely on foods labeled as ‘fat-free’, skimmed, or low-fat.

These might sound good, but as I explained before, they’re often full of carbs and sugar to make up for the lack of fat, otherwise, they wouldn’t taste good.

Any diet, whether it’s low-fat or something else, can be hard to stick to if it stops you from eating what you like. This often leads to not sticking with the diet and feeling guilty, which isn’t what we want when trying to lose weight.

Here’s a study that shows people who followed a low-carb diet for six months lost over three times as much weight as those who followed a low-fat, calorie-restricted diet.

There’s also another year-long study. It looked at two groups: one did intermittent fasting and the other followed a daily calorie-restriction diet.

At the end of the study, the group that did fasting lost 18 pounds, and the other group lost 14 pounds.

The point is, there’s no one right way to lose weight. It depends on where you’re from, what kind of foods you can get, and most importantly, what you can keep doing over time.

That’s why you don’t NEED a low-fat diet. You can reach your weight loss goals without making big changes to your diet. It’s different for everyone.

For some, just cutting out processed foods works, while others might need to start exercising.

And for others, things can be more complicated, like dealing with hormone issues or emotional eating.

So, don’t start a low-fat or any kind of strict diet before making sure it’s the right choice for you and something you can keep doing in the long run.

Also Read: 10 High Protein Meals for Weight Loss

Tips For Including Fats In Your Diet

1. Eat plenty of natural fats

  • Cook your meat and vegetables in healthy natural fats, such as coconut oil, olive oil, and pure ghee.
  • Sauces made with natural fats, like full-fat sour cream, cottage cheese, and mayo with an olive base are great ways to add some fatty flavor to dishes that otherwise don’t have a lot of fat.
  • Mix in some nuts like Almonds, Pecan, Macadamia nuts, and chia seeds with your salads.
  • Avocados go great with almost everything or just by themselves

2. Avoid Refined Vegetable Oils

Refined oils are also known as a slow poison, they are highly inflammatory in nature and should be avoided.

They are extracted from the source using a chemical solvent and it undergoes a significant amount of processing before being put in a bottle.

While they are often sold as ‘natural’, in reality, it’s not the truth. For example, corn is not an oily vegetable.

So, in order to get the oil from the corn, literally tons of corn must be processed. This involves grinding the kernels and spraying them with a petroleum-based solvent like hexane before heating, refining, degumming, bleaching, and deodorizing.

Our bodies are not meant to metabolize refined oils, as opposed to the natural fats from foods that humans have eaten for thousands of years.

Industrial seed oils are very high in omega-6 fats, which can be linked with many inflammatory diseases out there.

Instead, try to use cold-pressed coconut oil or pure ghee, the kinds of oil that can be extracted right away without processing.

If we want the prices for cold-pressed oil to come down, we need to start using more of it, Unfortunately in the current market, refined oils are cheap and easy to get so people tend to go for the refined oils.

3. Go for full-fat products

Avoid low-fat, yogurt, milk, cheese, etc. Go for the full fat because that’s how nature has made them and that’s how we are supposed to consume it.

Low fat is simply a marketing gimmick that was meant to attract more people to buy the product by giving them an imaginary ‘health halo’ that won’t cause weight gain simply because it’s low in fat.

Also Read: Is Okios Triple Zero Good For Weight Loss?

Bottom Line

There is no reason to avoid foods that contain natural fats. If they were really so bad, they wouldn’t exist out there in nature and would only exist in man-made items.

Fat is meant to be part of a balanced diet and is not something to be afraid of. So enjoy your full-fat meals if you want to. because going low fat certainly won’t save you from inflammatory diseases.

It’s our overall lifestyle that has to be in balance in order to prevent diseases and excess weight gain and isn’t based on a single macronutrient.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Rahul is a professional nutritionist certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and a personal trainer certified through the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He has a special interest in the science of nutrition and how it can impact the body.

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