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Low Calorie or Fat Free?

August 12, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALabels and legal guidelines can be confusing and when it comes to our food what we think it means is different than what marketing executives think! To make things more confusing what works for one person doesn’t for another.

“Fat free” labels appear on many foods including those such as juices which didn’t have fat to begin with. By USDA and Food and Drug Administration “fat free” foods must have less than .5 grams per serving. By comparison, low fat has up to 3 grams and reduced fat at least less fat than traditional products.

However, look carefully at the definitive requirement again under .5 grams per serving. In order to get fat free it can mean adding sugar and other things to boost the taste, and if a serving is 2 bites it qualifies. It’s not the marketer’s fault if you eat 5 servings at a time right?!

Many “fat free” foods simply don’t taste good, and fat is not a bad thing in the diet. We need some fat for proper functioning but the right fat and not excess fat! Trans fat is the worst offender the chemical hydrogenation process of the oils interferes with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol. Put another way in a choice between vegetable spreads and butter butter is healthier for lack of those trans fats. Some studies show a 2% increase in trans fat increases heart disease risk by 93%.

If shopping for “fat free” foods watch what is added to them. It makes a difference what those serving sizes are and what is added to make it tasty enough to eat.

Very low calorie diets can rely on shakes or bars to bring about significant short term weight loss. With sometimes as little as 800 calories per day these can drop 3-5 pounds per week but for an obese person can have side effects and should be undertaken only with a doctor’s approval. Safe and healthy eating habits maintain weight loss, and the body needs a certain amount of calories to function. They often make use of fish or chicken to maintain the caloric level. A low calorie diet is typically 1,200 calories per day or less.

What works best depends on the individual, exercise and other health issues. Medical guidance is a good thing. Every year there’s an onslaught of “the last diet you’ll ever need” and the truth is if it worked for everyone as they said then there would be no more diet books or no need for diet foods or articles. Some people have had good luck with these methods, while others have had success with others. Still others say the best thing to do is pushing away from the table, drinking more and exercising more.

Choosing foods that are low calorie and moderating fats are good for anyone looking to lose weight. Use them with an educated approach talk to your doctor.

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