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Low-Fat Diets: bad for your skin and your waistline?

Abandon your low-fat diet immediately – it might kill you! A recent study sensationally contradicted years of dietary wisdom: low-fat diets have a 23% higher risk of death compared to  high-fat diets. How is this possible? Surely fat, especially saturated fat, increases our cholesterol levels, clogs our arteries and increases our chances of getting heart disease? Surely fat makes you fat?

Are low-fat diets bad for your skin?Low-fat diets make you fat and wrinkly

I am not surprised however – I have been telling my clients this for years, but they never believe me. Dieters inevitably fall off the wagon (usually with an almighty binge) because low-fat diets are boring and simply don’t fill you up.

Dieters really don’t stand a chance. Food manufacturers are diet saboteurs. They sneakily replace the fat with sugar – they have to get the flavour from somewhere. So our blood sugar levels rise and cravings kick in. Sugar also prematurely ages our skin, (it makes our collagen go brittle), so ironically you get both fat and wrinkly.

But that’s not all. Food manufacturers have also been adding trans-fats (man-made fats) as preservatives to many processed diet meals. Our body simply doesn’t know how to break them down, so they end up dumped on our thighs and belly.

Your skin loves fat – but keep it clean!

Although your skin hates low-fat diets, it absolutely adores healthy fats. If a new client’s skin and hair are a bit dry, I always check that they are eating enough good fats. Fats lubricate the skin from within, whereas moisturisers can only work on the outer layer of skin – which is dead! Fat also strengthens the walls of our skin cells so moisture can’t escape as easily.

If we ate for fuel, then diets would be easy, but most of us eat for pleasure or to self-medicate when we are feeling a bit low/ bored/stressed. I advise my clients to prevent cravings by indulging in a few regular treats, even saturated fats. (Unless you have high cholesterol). Whilst not perfect, saturated fats are real foods: natural and unprocessed. Although fat is higher in calories than carbs, real foods take longer to digest, so you feel fuller for longer. So leave the fat on your meat – it adds much needed flavour. And go back to full fat milk – skimmed is so joyless! A little bit of what you fancy stops you bingeing.

Your skin loves the Mediterranean Diet

Instead of a low-fat diet, I recommend  the Mediterranean diet to all my clients: plenty of fruit and vegetables, good fats such as nuts, oily fish and olive oil, plenty of wholegrains (limit your portion size to 50g to keep blood sugar levels steady), and protein to fill you up: white meat, bean and legumesGood fats could come from nuts. Then a naughty treat a couple of times a week – something to look forward to. Eat good quality real food, nothing processed, preferably organic. Eat every three to four hours so you don’t binge at meal times because you are starving. Place less emphasis on calories (although be aware of them) and more emphasis on keeping your blood sugar levels steady to prevent cravings.

Charlotte Gwilliam
Charlotte Gwilliam

Anti-aging beauty blogger and full-time advocate for sunscreen

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