Is a low fat diet the optimal way to cut energy intake over the long term in overweight people? Academic Article uri icon


  • Successful weight loss depends on maintaining a sustained negative energy balance. This can be achieved on diets with a normal (40% energy) fat content as well as on low fat diets. Using a 'modified fat' (MF) diet enriched with monounsaturated fat (MUFA), body weight may be lost either by calorie counting, or by allowing ad libitum food intake with careful food selection. In the latter approach high energy, high MUFA foods (predominantly olive oil, but also may include nuts and avocado) should contribute no more than 20% total energy to the diet, and other foods should be selected to minimise meal energy density. This can be achieved simply by the consumption of a wide variety of vegetables and whole grain cereal foods. It is also important to restrict foods high in saturated fat and to encourage regular exercise. Such a 'modified fat' low energy diet designed for weight loss should also contribute numerous health benefits in relation to improved metabolic control in Type 2 diabetes and reduced cardiovascular disease risk (as the diet is not only rich in MUFA but also in a range of dietary antioxidants and other bio-active phytochemicals).

publication date

  • August 1, 2001