(Image by www.adrianalfordphotography.com)
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 (4 months,) I have been trying to have only 20g fat a day, (10% of my 1,800 calories,) which 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.)
After reading some pretty compelling evidence of past scientific ‘people’ studies (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, and even Ray saying that a lot of fat isn’t actually necessary in the diet as we can produce our own, I thought it was worth a shot. The promise of more flexibility in calories with super low fat 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.
One is dry skin. 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 super low fat, but for me this is a big negative. (As fats are utilised in cell structure, it makes sense.)
Belly Fat. 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.
(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?)
Sleep. 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!
Gut regularity/issues. 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.
Body Temperature. 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 super low fat as well.)
Moving forward, ultra low fat is not for me – 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 – 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 and 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 super low fat 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 and 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!
PS: For more discussion on this, join us in the Slim Birdy – One Ten Toned – Eating Peaty private Facebook Group.