There seems to be a constant battle raging between those touting diets that eschew fats, and others that believe carbohydrates are far more nefarious. To set things straight, we caught up with Ilia Regini, speaker, consultant, and owner of Healthy Nourished Body LLC, to discuss which dietary tactic is best and why fat might not be so bad.
First, Regini says that there are healthy ways in which eaters can approach both low carb and low fat diets. She notes that a healthy high fat/low carb diet includes ”the consumption of quality fats high in omega 3 fatty acids, such as organic extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, Ghee (a clarified butter), organic sprouted nuts, and flax oil as well as quality organic meats, fish, legumes, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.”
She adds that a healthful version of a high-carb diet would include the consumption of grain, bread, cereals — such as amaranth, teff, grains such as spelt berries (or farro), quinoa, rice, millet — and lean meats and fish, no oils, nuts, cream, etc.
As for which is better for overall health, Regini finds herself firmly in the high fat/low carb camp. She recommends high fat diets due to their ability to keeps weight in check. “Not consuming enough fat causes the body to use fat from carbohydrates which is stored as fat,” explains Regini. She notes that high fat/low carb diets can also help skin remain supple and soft, and that fat is vital for brain health as well as intracellular communication throughout the body.
According to Regini, High carb/low fat diets are only beneficial “in the sense that you are steering away from trans fats, poly-unsaturated fats.” However, she does warn that when sticking to a high-fat diet, eaters must be selective about which oils they consume.
“Too much of poor quality fats such as trans fats and poly-unsaturated fats is harmful,” says Regini. “With the quality fats, you want to have some with your meals, but not over do it.”
However, the alternative can be far worse. “Too many carbs can cause a host of health problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and others [since] starches convert to sugar in the body.” Instead, Regini suggests working with a functional medicine or naturopathic doctor who will run tests and will prescribe a specialized diet that is best for you.