The concept and idea of a high fat diet for weight loss is not as new as many think. There have been several short-term studies, as well as experiments on high-fat diets to help people lose weight, lower their cholesterol and improve insulin response.
High-Fat Diet Plan
Ludwig recommends beginners get about 50 percent of their calories from fat, 25 percent from protein, and 25 percent from nutrient-dense carbs. But don’t stress over diet math. At a typical sitting, start with a base of four to six ounces of protein plus unlimited non-starchy vegetables. If your protein source is lean, include up to two tablespoons of oil, three tablespoons of nuts, or four tablespoons of dressing/sauce with your meal. (If your protein is already rich in fat — such as eggs or marbled meat — go easier on added fat.) At main sittings, you should also include half a cup of beans or one cup of non-tropical fruit. Snack up to twice a day on a fat-rich food plus some veggies or protein.
Lose Weight on the High-Fat Diet
Both a typical American diet and a typical weight-loss diet “can be like Miracle-Gro for our fat cells,” notes Ludwig. “This is mainly because all the carbs we eat, especially the processed carbs, keep levels of the hormone insulin high. And chronically high insulin sends our fat cells into calorie-storage overdrive.”
Ludwig explains that overstimulated fat cells take on calories so quickly, they actually steal calories that the rest of the body needs to function optimally — so our brains signal us to eat more even as our waistlines expand. Ludwig’s solution is to replace some of the carbs we’d typically eat with healthy fat, since dietary fat is the only nutrient that triggers little or no insulin release. Fat cells will stop stockpiling calories, “and suddenly the brain senses there is more fuel available for the rest of the body. So it turns off hunger and speeds up metabolism,” explains Ludwig. “You begin to lose weight with your body’s full cooperation.”
High-Fat Diet for Weight Loss: How Quickly You Lose
Some women shed a quick 10 to 12 pounds, “but for the first few weeks, please don’t focus on the scale,” urges Ludwig. “The initial goal is to calm overactive fat cells. As you do, hunger decreases quickly and metabolism increases gradually.” Other diets are so restrictive, the body fights back, increasing hunger, intensifying cravings and slowing metabolism. On Ludwig’s plan, you eventually overtake dieters struggling to cut a lot of calories or carbs. “Be patient. We want this to be your last diet. Our aim is maximum benefits with minimum deprivation.”
The first two days on Ludwig’s plan, Denise Brown yearned for her normal foods. Then came day three. “I suddenly wasn’t hungry. It felt like freedom,” says the Pennsylvania mom, 42. “I never worried about portions, I just ate less because I was so full. I lost 50 pounds in six months!” Florida grandmother Suzi Koster, 66, also raves. “On every other diet, I wanted more, more, more. Now I eat full-fat yogurt with almonds, and it holds me for six hours,” marvels the 73-pounds-slimmer Suzi. “I’m finally satisfied — and I’m amazed by how much delicious food I eat while still losing weight. It has been a life-changing gift.”
“I hated the ‘hangry’ feeling I had on every other diet I’ve ever tried,” recalls Jami Fassett, 37. Luckily, she read about Ludwig’s plan and gave it a go. “It lets me eat as much as my body needs — so if I’m hungry, I eat. I never feel deprived either, because sugar no longer calls my name.” Jami has lost 62 pounds with ease. Even her husband has dropped 25 pounds. “I have so much energy now. I’m living my life while the pounds melt away. It’s incredible.”
Hunger-Free Weight Loss on the High-Fat Diet
Our nutrition team used guidelines from Always Hungry? and the new cookbook Always Delicious ($19.04, Amazon) to create these zero-hunger menus for you to try. You’re encouraged to season meals to your liking with unlimited herbs, spices, vinegar, mustard, and lemon juice. For best results during your first two weeks, avoid sweeteners (natural or artificial) except for a daily serving of dark chocolate. While using this plan, be sure to drink plenty of water. Coffee and tea are also good choices, and you can add cream if you like. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
Choose One Daily
Option 1: Spinach and Cheddar Scramble: 2 eggs scrambled in 1 tsp. olive oil with 3 Tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese and baby spinach to taste. 1 cup fruit, 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt.
Option 2: Cherry-Chocolate Shake: In blender, blitz 1/2 cup frozen dark cherries, 3/4 cup whole milk, 1/4 cup nuts, 1 serving unsweetened protein powder, 1 Tbsp. heavy cream, 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract.
Lunch & Dinner
Choose One at Each Sitting
Option 1: Cobb Salad: 1 sliced hard-boiled egg, 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans, 1 slice crumbled turkey bacon, 2 oz. chicken, 1/2 tomato, 1 Tbsp. blue cheese over unlimited lettuce with 2 Tbsp. no-sugar-added vinaigrette.
Option 2: 4 oz. lean deli meat rolled around pickles, celery and/or carrot sticks; 2 Tbsp. sugar-free dressing for dipping. 1 cup low-sodium black bean soup topped with unlimited diced onion and bell pepper, and 2 Tbsp. sour cream or shredded cheese.
Option 3: Easy Burrito Bowl: Shred 4 oz. of cooked chicken breast or lean beef and warm in a pan with a 1/2 cup of kidney beans and a pinch taco seasoning. Serve over unlimited lettuce, tomato, onion, bell pepper, cilantro and tomato topped with 1 oz. cheese and 2 Tbsp. each of sour cream and guacamole.
Option 4: Easy Salmon Bake: On sheet pan, toss unlimited sliced vegetables (such as broccoli and yellow squash) with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Rub 1 salmon fillet with 1 tsp. olive oil and place on top of veggies. Season with salt, pepper and herbs to taste. Bake 400 degrees Fahrenheit until veggies are tender, 20-30 minutes.
Blueberry Freeze: In blender, blitz 1 cup frozen blueberries with 1 Tbsp. heavy cream.
Option 5: 1 serving Eggplant Parmesan, large mixed salad, and 2 Tbsp. dressing. 1 cup non-tropical fruit.
Choose up to two daily.
Option 1: 1/2 cup full-fat Greek yogurt with 2 Tbsp. toasted almonds
Option 2: 1-2 oz. roasted nuts or cheese and sliced veggies
Option 3: 1/3 cup guacamole with unlimited veggies
Option 4: 1 oz. 70-percent dark chocolate
There’s a distinct difference between dietary and body fat. Dietary fats are the ones you eat, and there are several types, some are good for you, and others bad.
In this case, you are not what you eat. The fat you eat doesn’t automatically deposit itself on your waist, hips, thighs, or bingo wings. The simple act of consuming fat also doesn’t directly raise blood lipids and cholesterol levels.
Contrary to widespread belief, fat is not “bad” in reasonable quantities when you choose the right ones. Low-fat diets may have specific benefits for people with metabolic problems, like high cholesterol and triglycerides, heart problems, and damaged arteries, but if you’re relatively healthy and consume a balanced diet, there’s no need to fear fat.
Unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats
Dietary fats make up one of the three macronutrients (the others are carbohydrates and proteins). Fats are found in both plants and animals. Humans need fats for warmth, energy storage, nerve cell function, and making important things like hormones and vitamins.
The reason plants contain fats is because it provides energy for future baby plants. Their seeds are cushioned in a type of fat which promotes growth. Generally, plant fats are unsaturated and generally considered beneficial and heart healthy. Fish is also a source of unsaturated fats.
Dairy products like cheese contain saturated fats
On the other hand, beef and pork (especially fatty cuts) are sources of saturated fats — so is dark chicken and whole dairy. Saturated fats stay solid at room temperature (butter or the fat on steak) and should be consumed in moderation.
Trans fats are the one fat that you should strive to avoid, because they’re linked to many diseases including colon cancer, heart disease, and type II diabetes. These partially hydrogenated oils are industrially modified to stay solid at room temperature (like margarine, so it imitates butter). Deep-frying at high temperatures can also cause trans fats to occur.
Types of dietary fat
|monounsaturated fats||olive oil, avocado, most nuts|
|polyunsaturated fats||fish, walnuts, seeds, flax, vegetable oils|
|saturated||red meat, lard, whole fat dairy, ghee, butter, cream, coconut oil|
|trans fats||fast food, processed food, dairy, cakes, pastries|
What is a low-fat diet?
A low-fat diet restricts the amount of dietary fat you can eat. Generally, it’s limited to less than 30% of your daily energy intake. However, it can also be determined by the amount of fat consumed in a day, for example, less than 20g.
Often, low-fat diets encourage restricting saturated and trans fats, the ones which are related to adverse health outcomes. They’re often used to promote weight loss or for medical reasons, like metabolic control or protection from heart disease and diabetes.
However, cutting out certain food groups isn’t always healthy. For example, there are certain fats which your body needs to function properly, like omega-3s found in fish, which promote both heart and brain health.
☝️FACT☝️Low-fat processed foods often contain higher levels of sugar which offsets the benefits of cutting fat from the diet, because refined sugar isn’t healthy either.
What is a high-fat diet?
A high-fat diet is essentially the opposite to low-fat. In recent decades, there has been an emergence of diets like low-carb, high-fat like the ketogenic or Atkins diets. Despite their popularity in the mainstream population, there is little data regarding their long-term effects on the body.
The ketogenic diet, for example, is often promoted for weight loss even though it was first devised as an effective treatment for epilepsy. Because these diets are low-carb, fats are the main energy source and make up 60% of the diet.
The ketogenic diet: what happens in your body and microbiome?
When it comes to weight loss, these high fat diets can show promising initial results, however their long-term effects may be less beneficial — and it’s one of the least popular diets. One recent study of 487,759 people showed that people who followed a long-term low-carb diet increased their risk of dying earlier from deadly health problems like cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
SECRETS ABOUT HIGH-FAT DIETS
High-fat diets have surged in popularity over the last several years, and many nutrition coaches have utilized them with clients for weight loss. Despite their recent popularity, they are not new diets. They have been used over the last century in different iterations. We have learned a lot about them over that time frame. Here are five secrets that you should know about high-fat diets.
1. HIGH-FAT DIETS DO NOT MAKE YOU BURN MORE CALORIES
The idea that eating fat makes you burn more calories has been around for decades. Recently, several studies looked into this exact question and found some fascinating answers.
If you have people consume the same number of calories in a given day, consuming a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet does not make you burn any more calories when compared to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet
Second, if you give people a high-fat diet or a high-carbohydrate diet and let them eat as much as they want, those who eat a high-fat diet do not burn more calories. However, they consume more calories and gain more weight
2. FAT IS STORED MORE EASILY THAN CARBOHYDRATES
One of the most thought-provoking discussions that have occurred around high-fat diets for the last decade or two is the idea that carbohydrates are stored as body fat more efficiently than dietary fat is.
The truth is that fat is stored much easier than carbohydrates are, which we learned almost three decades ago. Fat is stored as body fat at ~96% efficiency. In contrast, carbohydrates are stored as body fat at ~80% efficiency . Carbohydrates convert to glycogen at ~95% efficiency, which is about the same rate the body stores fat as fat.
Check out the NASM body fat calculator if you are curious about where your BFP lies.
3. FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FEEL MORE FULL
“Eating fat makes you feel more full”… this is one of the most discussed aspects of high-fat diets. Sadly, this doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. I wish it did, but unfortunately, it does not.
When you examine which foods provide the most satiety per calorie, fats tend to fall much lower on the scale than dietary protein and carbohydrates (5). High-fat foods such as cheese and peanuts are about half as satiating as potatoes and oatmeal.
Furthermore, when you compare fats against carbohydrates and protein, they are much less satiating as “added calories.” On average, you get the same amount of satiety from 300 calories of protein and 400 calories of carbohydrates as you do from 800 calories of fat.
4. YOU DO NOT EAT LESS WHEN YOU EAT MORE FAT
We now have a good understanding that fat does not fill you up more than other foods, and maybe even less full than them. It would then make sense that you would probably eat more, not less, when you get more calories from fat in your diet.
One study found that as you increase the percent of your daily calories from dietary fat, your total calorie intake increases . Individuals who consumed ~50% of their daily calories from fat consumed ~750 calories more per day than people who consumed ~15-20% of their calories from fat (6). Several studies have shown this to be accurate. The effects are relatively significant, with intakes increasing substantially as fat intake increases