Replacing some fatty foods with alternatives that are lower in fat reduces belly fat and weight, studies find.
People in many studies lost weight without reducing their food intake, only by making relatively small changes to what they eat.
One example is to swap to low fat yoghurt and milk and remove the fat from meat.
Another suggestion would be to change snacks that are high in fat, like cake and biscuits, to lower fat alternatives, such as fruit.
The more fat people cut from their diet, the greater their weight loss, studies show.
These change do not just cause weight loss, they also help reduce levels of bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
The conclusions come from 33 different randomised controlled trials, the gold standard of scientific experimentation.
Dr Lee Hooper, the study’s first author, explained:
“The weight reduction that we found when people ate less fat was remarkably consistent – we saw it in almost every trial.
Those who cut down more on fat, lost more weight.
The effect isn’t dramatic, like going on a diet.
The research specifically looked at people who were cutting down on fat, but didn’t aim to lose weight – so they were continuing to consume a normal amount of food.
What surprised us was that they did lose weight, their BMI decreased and their waists became slimmer.”
There were 73,589 people in total involved in the studies, which were carried out around the world.
The results showed that people lost an average of 3.5 pounds and reduced their waist circumference by 0.5cm after reducing fat from their diet.
Dr Hooper continued:
“And remember, this isn’t a diet, so don’t take it to extremes, but work out a way of eating that you can stick to permanently.
Keeping healthy is not just about fat and weight – but cutting down on fat, especially saturated fat, is a great start.
Being physically active, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and drinking plenty of fluid also help to keep us healthy.
We just need to get in the habit of doing these things.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the British Medical Journal (Hooper et al., 2012).