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Low-fat Doesn't Always Mean Healthy!

Por Emiliana Faillace, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ -

Are you one of those people who fill the refrigerator and pantry with low-fat products? Are you convinced this will help you  lose weight, but you haven't even lost an ounce? Pay attention because most likely there are various details that have gotten past you . . .

Low-fat products were invented to help people control their total fat intake. According to food label guidelines, a "low-fat" product should contain 50% less fat per serving than the regular product. However, this doesn't mean that this product doesn't contain calories, or even that it's healthy. 

All foods contain calories even if the label says "low-fat," "low-calorie," "light,” or "low in carbohydrates."  These calories are what make you gain, lose, or maintain your body weight--not fats, proteins, or  carbohydrates themselves.

Whether these products are healthy or not depends on the ingredients they contain. For example, products that have hydrogenated oils, sugar, or a lot of preservatives, such as the majority of packaged products, can be classified as unhealthy. The best option is always to choose fresh foods and leave those packaged products for the rare occasion.

What do "low-fat" products really contain?

Most of these foods are almost an exact replica of the regular product. However, some ingredients are modified in order to obtain similar texture and taste. Generally,  fat is used to add flavor, but because it's prohibited in these cases, more sugar is added. Unfortunately, this method results in serving sizes that have almost the same amount of calories as the original product, and sometimes even more.

Here are some examples:

"Low-fat" product

Regular product

Fig Newtons (1 cookie)

51 calories

56 calories

Chocolate chip cookie (3 cookies)

150 calories

160 calories

Peanut butter (2 tbs)

187 calories

191 calories

Frozen yogurt (1 cup)

100 calories

104 calories

Granola (1 serving)

173 calories

196 calories

Chicken soup (1 cup)

140 calories

120 calories

How to use "low-fat" products correctly

Do you feel guiltless after eating an entire box of your favorite cookies just because the label says "low-fat?"  You would obviously never do this with regular cookies. This phenomenon happens to many people since the brain associates "low-fat" with "good."

The best thing you can do from now on is to choose regular products and stick to the serving sizes that are appropriate for you. If you don't feel comfortable leaving low-fat products behind, continue buying them. Just make a firm decision to eat only the amount you would eat of the regular product. 

As you can see, these products aren't "bad,"  but you need to be aware of what they really are so you can use them correctly without sabotaging your weight-loss  plan.

Source: Wansik, Brian. Mindless Eating, Why We Eat More Than We Think. 1 sted. New York: Random House Inc, 2006.


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