Low fat diet foods are frequently eaten by dieters in an attempt to lose weight. The large number of products boasting “low fat” or “fat free” indicates the prevalence of low fat diets. Fat has more calories than the other two macronutrients, carbohydrates and protein, therefore low fat diet foods may also be lower in calories than high fat foods. Many people also reduce their fat intake to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Depending on the specific diet, common low fat diet foods include vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and lean meats such as skinless white meat chicken.
Some low fat diets call for restriction of fat intake below a certain percentage, commonly 20 percent, of the total dietary intake. Cutting fat out of a diet entirely is not healthy, because the body needs some fat to function. Many people balance this issue by dramatically restricting saturated fat and trans fats, the types of fat commonly thought to lead to heart problems, and instead turn to unsaturated fats, often believed to be healthier. People on this diet often consume whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and supplement them with nuts, olives, and fish for a healthy supply of unsaturated fats.
Some diets combine both low fat diet foods and low carbohydrate diet foods, emphasizing instead high protein foods, such as lean meats. With regular, highly restrictive low carbohydrate diets, people tend to eat more foods with a higher fat content. Many worry that they are ingesting too much fat and cholesterol and putting their hearts at risk, while others are simply concerned about the number of calories in fatty foods. Therefore, low fat, low carbohydrate combination diets generally aim to control insulin and blood sugar levels while still keeping fat intake relatively low. People on a diet such as this are likely to avoid large amounts of even whole grains, a staple of other low fat diets, and instead stick to lean meats and produce.
A common problem for people attempting to eat only low fat diet foods are the products that have been processed to be “reduced fat” or “fat free.” First, people naturally tend to think the flavor of fat is appealing. When fat, and therefore flavor, is taken out of a product, companies often replace it with other unhealthy things such as sugars to keep the product desirable to eat. Second, many people assume that since a food is low in fat it is good for them, or at least not as bad as it might have been. This frequently causes dieters to feel comfortable eating a larger amount of the low fat food, unaware of how many calories are being consumed.