Harvard Health Letter

Does dietary fat matter for long-term weight loss?

News Briefs

Want to lose weight? Don't focus on fat. A Harvard analysis published Oct. 30, 2015, in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology suggests that low-fat diets don't work any better than higher-fat diets when it comes to long-term weight loss. Researchers analyzed the data from a total of about 68,000 people in 53 studies that looked at low-fat diets compared with other types of diets, such as higher-fat diets with low carbohydrates. After one year or longer, people on all types of diets had lost and kept off an average of 6 pounds. So how can you lose weight? As we reported in the December 2015 Health Letter, it's not dietary fat that makes you fat; it's the combination of excess calories and too little physical activity. Each gram of fat has nine calories, which is more than in a gram of carbohydrates or proteins, so don't eat too many of them. What should you eat to lose weight? Go for vegetables, fruits, lean meats and fish, fiber, healthy fats (almonds, avocados, salmon), and whole grains. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about how many calories per day you should eat to lose weight.