A high fat diet is an eating plan where you typically consume 32 to 60 percent of your daily calorie intake from fat alone. For years, fat was often seen as the enemy especially in relation to obesity and chronic illnesses.
However, more research has shown that it would seem that not all fat is bad, and that there might be some benefits to having a high fat diet in your life. If you would like to learn more about this, read on to find out the benefits and risks of a high fat diet.
What Are The Benefits Of A High Fat Diet?
Some potential benefits of high fat diet include
- Improved satiety and eventual weight loss
- Improved mental health
- A boost in energy levels
- Improved eye and skin health
- Improved nutrient absorption
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What Are 3 Effects Of A High Fat Diet?
While the above listed health benefits of high fat diet might make it look like the best eating plan out there, it may not be that simple.
The trick to any high fat diet is taking note which fats you consume. If you do not watch which fats you eat you might end up with more negative side effects than positive outcomes.
To avoid the negative effects and be sure you gain the benefits of a high fat low carb diet, it is essential to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy fats. There are 3 kinds of fats that you should be aware of when starting a high fat diet
- Trans fats – These fats occur in both natural and artificial forms. The natural kind found in meat and dairy probably aren’t bad for you, however, artificial trans fats are hazardous to your health.
Artificial trans fats occur when natural vegetable oils are chemically altered to stay solid at room temperatures and increase their shelf life. Research has linked trans fats to illnesses like breast and colon cancer, disorders of nervous system, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and allergies. They have also been known to cause shortening of pregnancy period, risks of preeclampsia and vision problems in infants (25). These fats have been banned in many countries, including the United States.
- Saturated fats – Harvard Health refers to saturated fats as the ‘in-between fats’. In moderation, these fats won’t do harm to your body. However, in large amounts, they can potentially be detrimental..
Saturated fats are found naturally in foods like red meat, whole milk and other dairy foods, coconut oil, as well as processed foods like baked goods, ice cream and fried foods.
- Unsaturated fats – These are the ‘good, healthy fats’ and they come in two forms, namely monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats are liquid at room temperature and found mainly in vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish.
Omega-3s and Omega 6s are two types of essential polyunsaturated fats which our bodies require but cannot make. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to be better for the health of your heart, and may also lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases (24, 15).
From this, it seems clear that people on high fat diets should focus on getting most of their energy from unsaturated fats, with a much smaller amount coming from saturated fats.
Read More: 7-Day Protein Diet Plan For Weight Loss
What Are The 5 Benefits Of Fats?
A diet high in healthy fats may lead to the following benefits
Satiety is simply the feeling of fullness. If you have a tendency to eat too much, or feel hungry as soon as you are done eating, a high fat diet might help you eat less. One small study done on 15 subjects found that unsaturated fats increased satiety while saturated fats did not (8). Theoretically, the faster and fuller you feel during a meal, the fewer calories you consume, which can also lead to weight loss. On the other hand, fat is much more calorie dense than protein or carbohydrates, so a small volume provides a lot of calories. Eating more fat may make you feel more full, but it also provides more calories. Fat is easy to overeat for this reason and also because it tastes good to us. (11, 9). This is why balance is important in our diets, but there is no need to fear fat.
Improve moods and mental health
In the same way that fats were demonized for the obesity epidemic, so long-term high fat diets have been linked to mental health issues like depression and anxiety (17). However, as we learn more about the different types of fats and their benefits, we see that it may not be that simple.
A review published in the European Journal of Public Health in 2019 found that the consumption of polyunsaturated fats may contribute to the decrease of depressive symptoms in patients, while improving positive mood and reducing anxiety (14).
One study conducted on about 300 women aged between 18 to 49 years old found that higher intakes of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids were associated with lower anxiety scores. Oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid also had similar associations while saturated fatty acids were associated with increased anxiety (16).
According to Psychology Today, not eating enough fat may increase the risk of depression, suicide, irritability, and anger (2).
Increased energy levels
If you have been feeling lethargic throughout the day, eating healthy fats as part of balanced meals could help increase your energy levels. Fat is energy-dense, providing 9 calories per gram of energy which can help your body function and you get through the day.
Improved eye and skin health
When it comes to eye health, fruits, leafy greens, as well as Vitamins A, C and E, are what many people automatically think of. Vitamins A and E are fat-soluble and tend to be present in foods which are rich in healthy fats. Also, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, omega 3s are also essential for good eye health, specifically helping with tear function (1).
Improved nutrient absorption
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Do I Need A High Fat Diet?
As long as you consume enough healthy fats in your diet, you can easily gain all the above mentioned benefits of healthy fats. High fat low carb diets are sometimes used for weight loss, but weight loss is achievable with many different types of diets as long as a calorie deficit is created.
If you have any medical conditions or are on any medications, please speak to your doctor first before switching to a new diet, especially if you plan to decrease your carbohydrate intake and are on medication to lower your blood sugar.
What Happens If You Eat More Fat?
Eating more healthy unsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats is typically recommended for heart health and other reasons. Whether it is a good idea to eat more total fat depends on your overall diet. It is generally recommended to have 20-35% of your total calories come from fat. Don’t forget to include lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for a healthy balanced diet.
Are There Any Hormonal Benefits Of High Fat Diet?
Some sources say that a higher fat intake is essential for hormones especially in women. However, there is very little research to back up this claim. One study found that higher fat intakes in healthy women were associated with very small increases in testosterone and that intake of the polyunsaturated fatty acid docosapentaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with a lower risk of anovulation (lack or absence of ovulation) (4). This suggests that eating enough healthy fat is important for hormone production, but it doesn’t suggest that eating more fat will affect hormone levels in someone who already eats enough healthy fat.
Read More: How Many Carbs A Day To Lose Weight?
What Are Some Benefits Of High Fat Diet BodyBuilding?
Proponents of this way of eating in bodybuilding claim that it can help you, especially during the cutting phase. By increasing fats in your diet, you are able to eat fewer carbs. They say that this in turn will help your body be able to burn fat faster, and you are more sated thus consuming less calories. Direct evidence for this is lacking, and individual experiences may vary.
What Is A High Fat Diet Good For?
Diets higher in healthy fats instead of saturated fats may help with heart health, increase satiety, and even improve mental health and skin barrier function.
What Are The Benefits OF Eating A High Fiber Low Fat Diet?
Diets higher in fiber have been linked to lower risk of heart disease, reduced cholesterol and blood pressure, better weight control and management, better glycemic control, reduced risk of certain forms of cancer, as well as improved digestion (13). You don’t have to limit healthy fats to get the benefits of increasing your fiber intake.
Is A High Fat Diet Good For Weight Loss?
It can work for some people. Some high fat diets like the ketogenic diet have helped people lose weight by creating a calorie deficit.
Does High Fat Diet Raise Blood Pressure?
Not necessarily if you eat the right fats. Remember that unsaturated fats are the healthy fats that you should be consuming primarily as they are good for heart health, while limiting saturated fats.
What Are The Benefits Of High Fat Protein Diet?
Including protein can also help promote satiety, and can help preserve muscle mass if you are trying to lose weight (18).
The Bottom Line
The possible benefits of a high fat diet are highly dependent on the kinds of fats you consume. Failure to watch which type of fats you consume might lead to more disadvantages than advantages.
If your eating plan is made up of mostly unsaturated fats with a limited amount of saturated fats, then you may experience the above mentioned benefits. Be sure to avoid trans fats if you live in a country that has not banned them.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 36 Fabulous Foods to Boost Eye Health (n.d., aao.org)
- A Low Fat Diet Can Make You Angry, Irritable and Depressed (2020, psychologytoday.com)
- A spoonful of oil: Fats and oils help to unlock full nutritional benefits of veggies, study suggests (2017, sciencedaily.com)
- Dietary fat intake and reproductive hormone concentrations and ovulation in regularly menstruating women (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus (2018, hsph.harvard.edu)
- Dietary supplementation of gamma-linolenic acid improves skin parameters in subjects with dry skin and mild atopic dermatitis (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Eating to boost energy (2011, health.harvard.edu)
- Effect of fat saturation on satiety, hormone release, and food intake (2009, academic.oup.com)
- Fat-Rich Food Palatability and Appetite Regulation (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fats, Cholesterol, And Chronic Diseases (n.d., ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fats and Satiety (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Fat-Soluble Vitamins (n.d., ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health benefits and practical aspects of high-fiber diets (1994, sciencedirect.com)
- Healthy fats and mental Health (2019, academic.oup.com)
- Higher consumption of unsaturated fats linked with lower mortality rates (2016, sciencedaily.com)
- Higher dietary fat quality is associated with lower anxiety score in women: a cross-sectional study (2020, annals-general-psychiatry.biomedcentral.com)
- High-Fat Diet Induced Anxiety and Anhedonia: Impact on Brain Homeostasis and Inflammation (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Metabolic advantages of higher protein diets and benefits of dairy foods on weight management, glycemic regulation, and bone (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: photoprotective macronutrients (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Saturated Fat: Part of a Healthy Diet (2018, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Saturated Fat (2021, heart.org)
- Study on the use of omega-3 fatty acids as a therapeutic supplement in treatment of psoriasis (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Supplementation of flaxseed oil diminishes skin sensitivity and improves skin barrier function and condition (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The health effects of dietary unsaturated fatty acids (2006, onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
- Trans fats—sources, health risks and alternative approach – A review (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)