Cut down on fat to slim down... without reducing calories

By Siski Green , Tuesday 11 December 2012

Counting calories has been the hallmark of dieting for decades but new research from the University of East Anglia shows that just cutting down on fat can have the effect most dieters are after – losing weight
Woman standing on scalesThe study found that reducing fat intake without reducing calories can aid weight loss

Researchers undertook a systematic review of results from 33 studies looking at the effects of reducing fat in the diet. The studies were undertaken in North American, Europe and New Zealand and involved nearly 74,000 people. The studies’ participants were in various states of health and participants were not actively trying to lose weight, so by looking at the results of these studies the researchers were able to come to definitive conclusions about the effects of reducing fat.

Eating less fat reduced body weight by 1.6kg over six months, and waist circumference by 0.5cm. While these results aren’t dramatic, the effects were seen very quickly and were maintained over several years. And, importantly, the results were consistent – “Those who cut down more on fat, lost more weight,” says study author Dr Lee Harper. Study participants were eating a normal amount of food, she continues, they weren’t aiming to lose weight but they did anyway.

As some fats are healthier than others, the researchers suggest that people use this information to cut down saturated fats first and foremost. “We didn’t consider different types of fat in this study,” says Dr Hooper. “But cutting down on saturated fat reduces our risk of heart disease and strokes, so the healthiest way to cut down on fat is to cut down on saturated fats.”

Some simple ways to cut fat from your diet:

  • Put cooked sauces and soups in the fridge overnight. By morning fat will have risen and solidified at the surface. Scrape it off with a spoon before reheating to eat.
  • Swap full-fat or semi-skimmed milk to skimmed.
  • Drink black coffee or tea, so you avoid milk fat completely.
  • Trim fat from meat and remove skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Keep butter or margarine at room temperature before spreading it on your toast. You’ll lose far less because it will spread more easily.
  • Snack on fruit rather than biscuits or cake.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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  • Lesley Hargraves

    Posted: Wednesday 19 December 2012

    Yes, I can vouch for this method. in June due to a problem with my gall bladder I was advised to go on a low fat diet. I was horrified. I like pork chops and lamb - my freezer would testify to this, so what was I to do. Well I discovered that you can eat anything and everything, you just have to remove the fat and it works. Apart from alieviating my gall bladder problems I am delighted that I have lost nearly a stone painlessly in 6 months. Try it and be surprised what you can achieve.

  • Rama Ariella

    Posted: Monday 17 December 2012

    Great article, Siski.There are good & bad things about fat. The good this is, Fat regulates our body function & stores energy.But, the bad thing is, too much of it can harm our body. Being obese exposes us to the risks of getting some forms of arthritis, respiratory problems,& hypertension just to name a few. Good thing there are fat burning foods to help us in losing weight. Foods like almonds help our body decrease sugar cravings and eventually burn fat.

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