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What Is a Low Fat Diet?

Most men that show up at my site have a damaged endothelium and, after they read around my site a little bit, they realize that the best way to repair their endothelium is by eliminating most of the fat from their diet. Going on a Low Fat Diet can actually remove arterial plaque according to some studies and lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, stabilizes plaque and in general lets the lining of the arteries heal. And, as I outline in my page on a Low Fat Diet and Erectile Dysfunction, this can be very good for your erections. Letting those penile arteries heal is absolutely critical for many of us who have grown up on a typical Western lifestyle.

Unfortunately, most men will not even consider a Low Fat Diet, because there is so much misinformation out there.  For one thing, a Low Fat Diet is equated to a No Fat Diet.  The truth is that the goal for a Low Fat Diet is to get the content of your diet down to around 10-15 percent of total calories.  The 10 percent level has been studied by the researchers Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn, who are the "Apostles of Low Fat".  They have had tremedous successes as I document in my link on What a Low Fat Diet Can Do For You for more details.

NOTE:  Ironically, some researchers have called a diet of 20 percent or even 25 percent low fat. To add to the confusion, the actual research term for what the public calls a Low Fat Diet is actually a "Very Low Diet" and give it a threshold of 15 percent, something I am mentioning in case you do some research on your own.

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Before I go on, let me mention one of the big reasons that I love a Low Fat Diet:  it complements well someone who exercises for an extended period of time and/or lifts weights.  It is an ideally adaptable way of eating, because

1.  Weight Lifting.  When lifting weights, you simply add low fat protein sources.  These abound and include undenatured whey protein powders, undenatured rice protein, egg whites and even low fat milks.  Of course, Ornish and other researchers have not studied the higher levels of proteins that weight lifters and body builders consume, but results should still be excellent.  (See this link on Potential Protein Dangers however.)

2.  Endurance Training. One of the major theories of overtraining is "glycogen depletion."  After extended training, one must regularly "reload" glycogen stores and there is no better way than with the clean, whole foods carbohydrates that a Low Fat Diet will supply. (Competitive athletes will likely have to supplement with some fat, though, simply because they burn so many calories and have a greater fatty acid burden.  But then they have little to worry about when it comes to heart disease!)

3.  Meat.  Now this would probably make Ornish and Esselstyn cringe, but it is likely that one can even do a Low Fat Diet with very lean cuts of meat and possibly achieve good outcomes, assuming you couldn find them.  (Whatever you do, do NOT use processed meats as study after study has associated these with colon cancer risk.)  There are several studies that have actually looked at the effect of Low Fat diets with meat.  One of the most interesting found that low fat beef dramatically lowered cholesterol and adding beef drippings back in steadily raised cholesterol just as expected. [1] In other words, it's the fat in meat that sends cholesterol through the roof.  NOTE:  One should also read, though, my pages on The Potential Risks of Protein and Significant Risks Associated with Meat Consumption.

So what exactly is a low fat diet?  Let's start with some calculation based on that 10 percent of calories number. In fact, let's say you are eating 2,700 calories per day.  10% of 2700 is 270 calories from fat, which translates to 30 grams of fat per day from all sources (since fat is 9 grams per calorie).

For those in the U.S. or eating a standard Western diet, this seem very low indeed.  In fact, many of us have eaten 30 grams of fat in one meal for decades! 

  • The Low Fat Diet is first and foremost a low fat diet.  It requires you to have 10% or less of your calories from fat.  What does that mean practically?  It means that you will be eating only grains, non-fat milk, legumes, beans, egg whites, vegetables and fruit with NO meat or added oils of any sort.  (You can fry something using oil, but no added oil to what you prepare is allowed.)
  • The Low Fat Diet is primarily a vegetarian diet.  It's not about tree hugging or anything else:  it's about saving your health. In fact, really it's really just vegetarian because many vegetarian foods are low fat.  For example, high fat vegetarian foods are not allowed.  Furthermore, the Low Fat Diet allows moderate amounts of egg whites and non-fat dairy, but no other animal products are allowed.
  • The Low Fat Diet does not allow caffeine.
  • The Low Fat Diet does allow moderate Alcohol consumption, i.e. 1-2 drinks per day.
  • The Low Fat Diet includes daily exercise of at least a half hour per day.  This can even be walking. 
  • Nuts, peanuts and seeds are not allowed.  Again, the goal is total fat calories less than ten percent.
  • Fish is not allowed on the Low Fat Diet.  However, Fish Oil is acceptable and even encouraged. 
  • Margarines, butters, lards and oils are not allowed including Olive Oil (except to fry in).
  • The Low Fat Diet allows for some refined sugars for taste. In other words, you can put some sugar on your oatmeal, but don't go crazy! The lion's share of your grains should be whole grains.
  • The Low Fat Diet is also supposed to include a stress mangement technique as well.  Ornish considers stress a major source of health issues and insists that people learn to manage it better.
  • I have read that the Low Fat Diet to Reverse Prostate Cancer also included selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E supplements.  However, I have not been able to verify that 'officially'.
  • Ornish has received some heat because he eliminates nuts, fish, olive oil and other items that many researchers consider heart healthy.  But the fact is this:  Ornish's Diet works..  

    The Low Fat Diet will has been shown to reverse heart disease and cancer. Think about that:  there are not pills or drugs that can do that! If there was a compound that could actually reverse heart disease, for example, every drug company on planet earth would be fighting for it and spending billions advertising for it. (The statins will reduce arteriosclerosis, but only if taken in very massive doses.)

    And, to his credit, Dr.Ornish is also an excellent, down-to-earth writer.  I would recommend either of his two books as an easy read that will probably save your life: Dr. Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease and Eat More, Weight Less.  Eat More, Weigh Less is particularly important if you want good, low fat recipes.  Dr. Ornish collaborated with a French chef for this book and close to two thirds of the book are delicious dishes and food preparation ideas for low fat cuisine. 

    What is better and easier in the long run is to just go completely on a Low Fat Diet.  You will probably have a week or two where you find your self craving meat, butter, oils, cheese - all those things - but then the desire will suddenly disappear.  I remember when I first started a Low Fat Diet, if I smelled a steak or something grilled, it would just about kill me - I really think I would have stolen a drumstick right out of a baby's hand if no one was looking in those moments. However, it just took a little time and soon all of the stuff I grew up on actually sounded greasy and heavy.  So, again, give your palate time to adjust and be patient:  it's well-worth the wait.

    Another objection that you may have is:  will I get enough fat in my diet on a Low Fat Diet?  The answer, of course, is yes.  Remember that if you eat an Ornish, you will get about 10% of your calories from fat.  If, for example, you eat 2,700 calories in a day on an Low Fat Diet, that is 270 fat calories, which would be almost exactly 30 g of fat.  And that is more than enough for your body's basic requirements.

    I know some of you may be thinking that you could never live without fat in your diet.  Well, actually you will be surprised how your palate will change if you just give it a couple of weeks.  My experience, and Dr. Ornish echoes this, is that it's best to go "cold turkey".  In other words, if you try to go pretty-doggone-Low-Fat but still not-quite-Low-Fat, the desire for fatty foods does not go away, because you are still occasionally tasting and sampling your old Western Diet.

    Your family and friends all love you, but they also have almost killed you with their love. Well, now it's time to pull away from the crowd with the Low Fat Diet. Do you really want to live like them?  Isn't it better to be a little lonely at times than to live a life full of angioplasties, stints, prostate cancer, strokes and limp sex?

     Are you ready?  Here are the details for those of you willing to pay the price to get your youth back:

    NOTE:  All the signs point to the Low Fat Diet being very good for erectile strength.  Read this link on How the Low Fat Diet is Good for your Sex Life

     

     

    REFERENCES:

    1)  Am J Clin Nutr, Sep 1990, 52(3):491-494, "Cholesterol-lowering effect of a low-fat diet containing lean beef is reversed by the addition of beef fat"

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