The verdict is out: a diet high in healthy fats from olive oil and nuts, and not restricted in calorie, does not cause weight gain, laying to rest the decades long assumption that fats are the cause of weight gain.
In a well designed, large scale study conducted in Spain (Spanish PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on 6 June) , over 7000 participants were either assigned to a:
1) Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil
2) Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts
3) Control diet, adviced to reduce dietary fat
After 5 years, researchers found that all participants lost a small amount of weight, but the people in the Mediterranean diet groups had more weight loss compared to the control group which was restricting fat.
In addition, while participants in all 3 groups had a small increase in waist circumference, the increase in abdominal girth was smaller for the Mediterranean diet groups, compared to the control group.
The researchers concluded that the results support advicing the public NOT to restrict the intake of healthy fats for bodyweight maintenance.
The Demonisation of Fat
This study is the first randomized control trial to evaluate the effects of a Mediterranean diet on long-term weight loss. It is a big step in influencing food intake behavior – up till today, dietary guidelines in most countries advice the reduction of fat intake, not differentiating between healthy fats such as those for nuts and coconuts, and saturated fat from animal sources.
To make matters worse, fats were blamed for causing obesity in the 1970s- leading to the creation of everything “low fat”, with increased sugar. That demonization of fat, and excessive intake of sugar, has given rise to the obesity epidemic which plagues us today.
“These results have practical implications, because the fear of weight gain from high fat foods need no longer be an obstacle to adherence to a dietary pattern such as the Mediterranean diet, which is known to provide much clinical and metabolic benefit,” writes Ramon Estruch, MD, PhD, from CIBER OBN-University, Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues.
The best thing about the diet – it is suitable for vegetarians too!
Load up the Olive Oil and Nuts today!
High-Fat Mediterranean Diet Does Not Lead to Weight Gain www.medscape.com
Effect of a high-fat Mediterranean diet on bodyweight and waist circumference: a prespecified secondary outcomes analysis of the PREDIMED randomised controlled trial, Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 6 June 2016