Low-fat diets could increase your risk of an early death

Should we be cutting down on carbs instead? [Photo: Pexels]
Should we be cutting down on carbs instead? [Photo: Pexels]

If only losing weight was as simple as food labels make it seem.

If they were right, buying ‘low fat’ or ‘0% fat’ products would be all there was to it, and we’d be dropping the pounds within days.

But according to a new study, maintaining a low-fat diet could be doing you more harm than good – in fact, it could raise your risk of an early death by a quarter.

Research in The Lancet into the diets of 135,000 people from 18 countries found that high-fat diets (including both saturated and un-saturated fats) were associated with around a 23% lower mortality risk.

A high intake of carbohydrates, in contrast, was associated with a 28% higher risk.

It’s safe to say most of us could have more balanced diets [Photo: Pexels]
It’s safe to say most of us could have more balanced diets [Photo: Pexels]

On average, it also found that people’s diets were made up of over 60% energy from carbs and 24% energy from fats with the study’s authors suggesting that we should be reducing our carbohydrate intake instead of fat.

“In low- and middle-income countries, where diets sometimes consist of more than 65% of energy from carbohydrates, guidelines should refocus their attention towards reducing carbohydrate intake, instead of focusing on reducing fats,” Dr Mahshid Dehghan from McMaster University and one of the study’s authors told Cosmo.

“The best diets will include a balance of carbohydrates and fats – approximately 50-55% carbohydrates and around 35% total fat, including both saturated and unsaturated fats.”

If in doubt, follow NHS advice [Photo: Pexels]
If in doubt, follow NHS advice [Photo: Pexels]

“Our study did not look at trans fats, typically from processed foods, and the evidence is clear that these are unhealthy.”

But while the findings suggest we should look to reduce our carb intake, we shouldn’t cut it out altogether.

“A certain amount of carbohydrate is necessary to meet energy demands during physical activity and so moderate intakes, of around 50-55% of energy, are likely to be more appropriate than either very high or very low carbohydrate intakes,” Dr Dehghan added.

Keep in mind, however, that the NHS suggests people cut down on fats and replace saturated with unsaturated ones – so if in doubt, follow the government’s guidelines or listen what actual doctors have to say about weight loss.

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