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What happens if you don't eat enough fat?

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I've noticed that by the end of the day, my fat intake is often a little on the low side: usually around 20% instead of the recommended 25-30%. I'm not overly concerned with this, as I know what I need to do: eat a few more healthy fats! Nuts, avocado, olive oil etc. I'm going to stock up on healthy, nutty snacks this weekend.

This has prompted a question, though - what actually happens to the human body if it doesn't consistently get enough fat? Assuming that a person's total calorie intake is in the healthy range, but they aren't getting enough fat in their diet for a prolonged period of time? Are there certain, specific health problems that can arise from a diet that is too low in fat (as opposed to a diet that is too low in protein, carbs, fiber etc.)? 

Edited Apr 04 2013 23:23 by coach_k
Reason: locked to prevent zombie spam bumps. OP last comment july 2009
14 Replies (last)

fat insulates your cells and also neural pathways. the neural pathway issue can lead to depression (reason why the omega supplements can help depression)

I'm sure there are others but that's the only thing I really am sure of.

I found this link in Yahoo answers this could help answer your question.;_ylt= Aorl0VZ_tktenQ_MtzEDU74jzKIX;_ylv=3?qid=10060 51831780

Hope this helps

Some important vitamins are fat soluble so you need fat to convert them into things your body can use, or else your body doesn't get the benefits & suffers.

Another little job fats and oils do for the body is help the digestion along.  They slow the rate at which the stomach empties... ideal if you're on a reduced-calorie diet for weight-loss.  And they also keep the bowels moving... acting as a lubricant.   In women, very low fat diets can be a factor in amenorrhea or cessation of periods. 

20% isn't a very low-fat diet by any means so you shouldn't worry unduly.  Going from 20% to 25% probably only involves an extra teaspoon or two of olive oil, or its equivalent. 

potentially, irreversible and very serious nerve problems. fats are in the myelin sheaths, which insulate electrical/nerve impulses, so they can be transmitted to your central nervous system


 also problems with your retina (look up pigmenatal retinopathy....basically blindess drawn out over time).


fats are not the enemy, only bad fats!x

Omega-3 fatty acids are syper important unsaturated fatty acids for your body because of their configuration and the location of their bonds, they are easier to transform and be used for many functions within the human body. For example, docosehexaenoic acid (DHA) reduces the risk of heart disease in people by reducing their level of blood triglycerides. Alternatively, low levels of DHA result in reduction of brain serotonin levels and have been associated with Alzheimer’s, depression, and ADHD. Another important kind of fat is Conjugated Linoleic acid, which studies have shown to have antioxidant properties and a possible connection to the reduction of body fat. So go fat! Personally I sometimes notice myself getting a little depressed for no good reason and then I realize I haven't had fat all day, which as a vegan is easy to do...

your brain is composed mostly of fats, hence omega 3's and healthy fats being "brain food". it is difficult for the brain to function properly on less than the recommended amount. you may notice you become spacey, distant, or unable to focus.

hair could fall out and nails also become very weak. it also takes a good deal of time to reverse these effects.

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The (scary) above things are true, but don't freak out, 20% is not an extremely low amount of fat.  25-30% is better, but your brain isn't going to dissolve if you eat 20% for a few days.  Just add in an avocado, a soy product, some nuts or a vegetable oil for some extra healthy fats and you'll be good to go.

Fats also make you feel full (for the reasons GI Jane mentioned), so you'll be more satisfied on a lower calorie diet if there are the right amount of fats.

Ok, I can't resist the geekiness of giving out trivia: Fats can help with depression because many of the building blocks of seratonin (that stuff most antidepessants effects) are fat-soluble.

Your whole nueral network, brain to nerves needs it.

And essential fatty acids are only found in one place... fat : )

But I agree that 20% isn't terribly low. No need to freak, just add some here and there.

yep, I've been there - I was only eating around 10% fat (or possibly even less) and I lost my period. Yep. I had to gain weight to get it back.

Raynaud's syndrome can be caused by extremely low body fat, although I am not sure whether it is caused by excessively low fat intake or by excessively low calorie intake. The two are often correlated, but be careful anyway, because Raynaud's syndrome is a bit of a nightmare. There is medication for it, which helps quite a bit... but not completely. And who actually wants to be on medication?


Does anybody know ... what if you dont have a gallbladder, so  you literally cant digest fats properly ...the nutrients from them at least...

what to do? bile salts? do they REALLY work though?

i take probiotics but im not sure if they are working and how much to take in my case.

Original Post by morena1987:

Does anybody know ... what if you dont have a gallbladder, so  you literally cant digest fats properly ...the nutrients from them at least...

what to do? bile salts? do they REALLY work though?

i take probiotics but im not sure if they are working and how much to take in my case.

dont sweat it. I don't have a gallbladder either and I avoid fatty items as much as possible to prevent the inevitable gut disaster that will ensue if I eat them. Even vegetables have fat so if you eat a well rounded low fat diet you will be fine.

14 Replies