Are Low Fat Foods Making You Fat?

Why is it that we have so many versions of “low fat” foods and yet the obesity rate still climbs? If so many people are eating low fat foods, then why are so many getting fatter? Labels are only part of the problem. Foods labeled “no fat”, “reduced fat”, or “low fat” are not always good choices. A “low fat” version can still be high in fat, just lower than the original product!

Low fat, Reduced fat or even no fat foods don’t necessarily guarantee weight loss. There’s several reasons why this can be, so let’s discuss a few of them.

1. Feeling Full
You may not feel full or as satisfied after eating reduced fat foods. Sometimes you are better off with the regular fat version! Foods with a higher fat content leave you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer. When eating normally, people who eat regular fat foods (ie-cheese vs. the low-fat version) tend to eat less in one meal, yet be more satisfied.

2. Increase in calories
You can actually end up eating more calories with low fat or reduced fat foods! Dieting studies have shown that people who eat low fat foods can end up eating almost 28% more than they normally would have. They justify that since it is lower in fat, it’s OK to eat more. This warped perception can result in a caloric increase of up to a whopping 40% , especially for those who are already overweight and/or consume larger portion sizes.

3. Low fat may mean high calorie
There are many low fat items that are laden with high Glycemic Index carbs, high calories, flavor enhancers, sugars and other not-so healthy additives designed to make the food taste better. Low fat doesn’t automatically mean healthy, low carb, or low calorie! Read the labels and make an informed decision!

4. Low fat, no fat tricks
Some foods exclaim “Naturally Low Fat!” or “No Fat!”, but never had fat in them to begin with! Most pastas, some candies, and treats like marshmallows and sodas are all either low or no fat foods. Eating too much of these can put on the weight, despite the low/no fat claim! Sure, it’s true that marshmallows and soda have no fat, but they are all sugar which can be even worse for the shape of your body!

Healthy  recommendations:

  • 25% of calories in the diet should come from healthy fats.
  • Trans fats and saturated oils such as animal fats and lard should be avoided.
  • Deep fried foods should be avoided or kept to a minimum.
  • Healthy fats and oils can be used sparingly in cooking or as accent foods.

What are the best “good” or healthy fats to choose?

  • avocados
  • olive oil
  • nuts and seeds (a small handful daily is sufficient- about 6-10. Sprinkle on salad or a meal, but watch your portion size!)
  • oily fish such as tuna or salmon

Healthy fats, in small amounts, are an essential part of good eating and staying lean and healthy. Be sure to make educated choices with your low fat foods and eat the right portions of both regular fat and low fat foods.  Balance in the diet is key to permanent weight loss!
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