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Why Fat-Free Diets Do Not Make Us Thin

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For several decades, Americans have been told to eat less fat to maintain a healthy weight.
Take a look at any supermarket shelf and the effects of this advice are obvious - nearly every original food product has an adjacent low-fat or fat-free counterpart.
However, recent research suggests that eating a diet deficient in fats can actually cause individuals to gain weight.
The fact is that obesity is reaching epidemic proportions, particularly in the Western world.
In the United States alone, obesity rates increased from 14 percent of the population in 1960 to more than 22 percent in 1980, according to the Harvard Nurse's Health Study.
Over the course of a decade, the study found that these increases occurred despite the rising popularity of low-fat diets.
Moreover, the research also reported that low-fat diets did not reduce an individual's risk of heart disease and that consuming too little fat was just as harmful to the overall health of an individual as consuming too much.
Why This Happens Eating less fat means the body must supplement calories by consuming more protein and more carbohydrates.
The body burns carbohydrates at a much faster rate than dietary fat, making individuals feel sluggish and less energetic.
There are also increased risks of consumption of muscle tissue to compensate, disturbed metabolism, and hormone imbalance because of unstable blood sugar levels.
The human body uses fat to maintain proper hormone production.
If hormone production drops, metabolism is thrown off kilter.
Hormones regulate several process within the body including the mechanisms that build and repair muscle tissue.
If too little fat is in the body the muscles do not have a chance to strengthen and recover, which means that building muscle definition becomes very difficult.
Dietary fats are the optimal fuel for the body.
New Research Shows Interesting Results A team from Washington University in St.
Louis recently discovered that low-fat diets may actually increase fat deposits in the body.
The study found that mice retained existing fat even when a low-fat diet was introduced and the liver had no new fat to process.
This seems to prove the notion that moderation rather than extreme diets are the key to initiating fat burning and weight loss.
"Extremes of diet are sometimes unwise, because a balanced diet may be critical for providing certain dietary signals that allow you to respond appropriately to stresses, and one of those stresses is eating too much," said Dr.
Clay Semenkovich, co-author of the study and professor of medicine, cell biology, and physiology at the university.
The results may provide one explanation for why the popular Atkins diet - low in carbohydrates and high in fat - works as well as it does for so many individuals.
But Semenkovich advises a balanced diet for sustaining long-term health, as it is easier to maintain over time.
It may be that Atkins dieters will someday be found to have suppressed other dietary signals crucial to good health.
The researchers used mice genetically engineered to lack a certain fat-producing enzyme in the liver.
On a diet of zero fat, the mice developed fatty liver disease.
Fat stores moved to the liver, but the organs were not able to burn the fat.
The team concluded that the liver needs a constant supply of new fat deposits to regulate overall fat burning.
"On a normal diet they were OK," Semenkovich explained.
"We went to a very extreme low-fat diet, and these animals paradoxically accumulated an extremely large amount of fat in their livers.
" The liver directs nutrients obtained from food to the rest of the body for storage or immediate use.
When glucose or lipids cannot be processed properly in the liver it can cause type 2 diabetes and hardening of the arterial walls.
Individuals who are obese or diabetic are often diagnosed with fatty liver disease.
To further test their results, the Washington University team tried to stimulate fat burning in the mice by administering a drug.
The medication was a stronger version of human triglyceride-lowering prescriptions that are commonly known as Lopid and Tricor.
The drugs activate a protein (PPAR-alpha), which takes energy from fats and carbohydrates.
The researchers already knew that fat stimulate proteins, but the
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