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Low-Sugar vs. Low-Fat Diet

by Kathryn Gilhuly

About Kathryn Gilhuly

Kathryn Gilhuly is a wellness coach based in San Diego. She helps doctors, nurses and other professionals implement lifestyle changes that focus on a healthy diet and exercise. Gilhuly holds a Master of Science in health, nutrition and exercise from North Dakota State University.

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A low-sugar diet cuts back on refined carbohydrates such as candy, cookies and other sweets. A low-fat diet restricts both unhealthy fats – saturated fat and trans fat – as well as healthy fats found in nuts, seeds and olives. Both types of diets reduce calories and can help you lose weight. If you want to improve your cardiovascular health, choose a diet low in both sugar and fat.

Low-Sugar Diet

All carbohydrates convert to sugar in your bloodstream. Simple carbohydrates – sugar and processed baked goods – enter your bloodstream rapidly and you may end up hungry shortly after consuming them. Complex carbohydrates, such as those in whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, prove more satisfying because they convert slowly to sugar in your body. Only two types of nutrients contain no sugar or carbohydrates: fat and pure protein, such as meat, fish and chicken. If you overly restrict carbohydrates, you may consume more protein and fat than you need. You may also find yourself fatigued, as carbohydrates provide the quickest source of energy for your body.

Low-Fat Diet

All types of fat contain a lot of calories – about 100 calories per tablespoon – so you can easily reduce calories by restricting fat in your diet. Some animal protein contains unhealthy amounts of saturated fat, so choose lean protein such as fish, beans and skinless chicken. Avoid cooking with extra oil – grill, bake or microwave foods rather than sautéing or deep frying them. Processed foods, including frozen potatoes and microwavable popcorn, may contain high amounts of fat. If you bake, you can substitute applesauce for oil in some recipes – muffins, for instance – or eliminate it entirely in others such as pancakes and waffles.

Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Diet

A heart-healthy diet limits both sugar and fat. You can lose weight and improve your cholesterol levels on a diet that restricts saturated fat to 16 grams to 22 grams a day and trans fat, found mostly in margarine and shortening, to less than 2 grams a day. Limit total fat to 44 grams to 78 grams and obtain most of it from healthy oils such as those found in walnuts, pumpkin seeds and olives. Restrict calories from foods with added sugar to about 5 percent to 10 percent of your daily totals. If you add fiber to your diet, you can lose weight and lower your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Sample Menu

A diet that limits sugar and fat while providing adequate nutrition will include a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, moderate amounts of lean protein and low-fat dairy and restricted amounts of simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. For breakfast, try peanut butter and banana slices on whole wheat toast with a glass of non-fat milk or a bowl of mixed berries topped with almonds, non-fat plain yogurt and oatmeal. At lunch, try a salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and onions topped with tuna and a yogurt-mustard dressing or a bowl of bean soup served with a multigrain roll and an apple. Good dinner choices include salmon with wild rice and broccoli or whole wheat pasta in a marinara sauce topped with a medley of vegetables and slices of skinless chicken.

Photo Credits:

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.