I just wanted to give everyone an update on my super low fat diet experiments.
As you may or may not know, since about June 2020 (4 months,) I have been trying to have only 20g fat a day, (10% of my 1,800 calories.) This was spurred on by the desire to lose about 5kgs (10lbs) within a Ray Peat diet framework.
(10% of calories was deemed to be the magic level where weight loss was more likely, along with a wider margin of calories allowed to no adverse effect.)
I read some pretty compelling evidence of past scientific ‘people’ studies on low fat diets (not just rats or mice,) where adherence resulted in the desired weight loss and other health improvements such as heart, kidney and diabetes type issues. Even Ray said that a lot of fat isn’t actually necessary in the diet as we can produce our own, so I thought it was worth a shot. The promise of more flexibility in calories with a super low fat diet was appealing as well.
Sticking to the diet was the tripping point for most in the studies. However I didn’t find it hard to do in terms of hunger or variety of food, but the slow development of a few negative effects had my alarm bells ringing.
Even when I was keto I still had dry skin, but this is more than that, it seemed like skin was losing elasticity! So perhaps people who genetically have oily skin may fair better on a super low fat diet, but for me this is a big negative. (As fats are utilised in cell structure, it makes sense.)
Certain weeks and days it appears the low fat is improving this area but then other days I’m not impressed. It has reduced somewhat but not completely – in comparison to fat distribution on the rest of my body.
(One other confounding point may be my increased dairy intake, even if it’s the skim or the low fat kind. So since going low fat I have increased my intake of skim milk, low fat yoghurt and cottage cheese – so I’m thinking overkill in this area maybe is throwing hormones out of whack? Again in the past I had a ‘no dairy’ phase and my belly fat was considerably less, as well as bust area. Dairy is too important to give up altogether – I realise now – but what if there is a tolerance limit and I should only have a certain amount each day which will result in more balance? Update here, I found this to be the case and wrote about it here.)
I always sleep through the night and as long as I keep fluids low after 6 pm, then I don’t have to get up to go to the loo. However since super low fat, I can feel a slow decline in sleep quality where maybe once a week, I wake up in the middle of the night, then twice a week. So it’s heading in the wrong direction!
Again no issues normally, but since super low fat, minor problems with constipation, inflammation and bloating creeping in more often. If left unchecked, this again is heading in the wrong direction and will get worse. While too much fat has negative effects on gut health, it appears it’s the same for low fat. The Goldilocks effect – not too much or too little but just right – is required.
Brain Fog/Concentration issues
This slowly crept in but was definitely getting worse in that it was stressing me out a bit, as I couldn’t focus on what I was trying to do. This was very noticeable for me as I’ve never had this issue before to this degree.
This one was the death knell for me – it was going down!!! Waking up a few mornings at 36.3C then the following week 36.1C – Hey! Heading in the wrong direction!
So at this point I am super grateful to know what I know about health from the Ray Peat community and Ray himself. In the past, I would have kept heading down the wrong path, oblivious to these signs, chasing the weight loss at the expense of my health. (Also thank you to Jay Feldman Wellness for putting the doubt in my mind around a super low fat diet as well.)
One health benefit to point out
I must point out one health benefit that I did find during this experiment. My carbohydrate processing abilities improved over this time. So with all the fat out of the way, my body was able to fast track improving my carb processing which had been struggling with the conversion back after Keto. These benefits also continued on even when I added more fat back into my diet.
So for anyone coming off Keto, Low Carb or Carnivore Diets, I would recommend a period of maybe a month on super low fat to receive this benefit before the negative effects kick in.
Moving forward ultra low fat, i.e. 20g of fat a day, is not for me long term – this is what test and measure is all about right? It’s also why you can’t just believe scientific studies, as they never take a holistic view.
So I’m doubling my fat intake to 40 grams, which would be 20% of my calories. This is still low-ish compared to Ray who says he has 33% of each macro. Super balanced!
Even if there was more caloric freedom at the super low fat level, I didn’t find it. At the expense of all the health markers above, it wasn’t worth it.
So overall caloric intake will have to be monitored to some degree too now. (Doh! I was hoping a super low fat diet could free us all, but apparently not.) Which just goes to show that extremes of any way of eating all have their downsides.
I finally get it now.
The diet must be balanced for so many different reasons. Finding your own personal balance is THE most important thing.
If you’ve tried super low fat, what was your experience?
Live and learn, the journey continues!
Image by www.adrianalfordphotography.com
PS: Some lower fat recipes in your daily diet are still good to help balance your fat intake correctly. Check them out on the Recipe Page. I finally managed to get my macros and calories all correct for health and weight loss. The ZEN Beach Diet further explains the macro balance…