To lose weight, follow diet low in fat, high in fiber

FITNESS CLINIC

September 21, 1993|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,Contributing Writer

A low-fat diet is the most effective way to lower your cholesterol and to lose weight and keep it off. Three recent studies in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (June 1993) tell us why.

A low-fat diet helps you lose weight primarily by forcing you to eat a diet high in fiber. The single stimulus that signals you to stop eating during a meal is when your brain sends you a message that you have had enough calories. Fiber provides no calories, but its bulk deceives your brain into thinking you are getting them.

Studies from England and Italy show fiber suppresses appetite all day long. A high-fiber breakfast cereal reduces your intake of calories throughout the day. It's not enough to go on a low-fat diet. It also has to be high in fiber.

The typical American diet contains lots of high-fat foods, such as fried foods, meat, chicken, whole milk dairy products and pastries. On a low-fat diet, you eliminate those foods and eat lots of fruits, whole grains, vegetables and beans instead.

You can defeat a low-fat diet by eating a lot of fat-free foods made from refined grains, such as pasta, breads, crackers and pretzels. These foods have little fiber, so you can eat a tremendous amount of calories without feeling full. All extra calories are converted by your liver to fat, so even though you are not eating fat, your body is making fat and you will not lose much weight.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.

United Features Syndicate

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