Fact or Fiction: Low Fat and Low Calories

What does low fat mean?

Foods that are low in fat have a reduction in total overall fat. Usually they are labeled “reduced fat.” This can be your processed foods like chips, cookies, cakes and even cheeses, cream and other dairy products. Some of the fat has been removed.

Low fat does not mean that it is low in sugars. Increased sugars can lead to cravings and weight gain. Often when the fat is removed, more sugars or carbohydrates are added for flavor so you will buy the product. Even though you are not getting more fat, you could be getting more sugar.

What does low calorie mean?

Low calorie means that per serving, there are fewer calories in one version of a food than another. It could be that there is less per serving or something has been removed from the food to lower the caloric load. You will have to look at the nutrition label and read the information to find out which.

But, does low fat mean low calorie? To find out the answer to that, you will have to compare food labels. Look at a reduced fat variety and a regular variety. Usually the amount of fat in the former will be lower by about ten percent. Also look at the serving size. Are you getting more, less or the same for the amount of fat inside?

Processed foods have added sugar and salt to preserve the product. you may not see sugar listed on the label but if there are any ingredients that contain the endings “-ose,” “-ase,” or “-ol” that means there is added sugar. In many low calorie foods, these sugars are present. When you look at carbohydrates on the nutrition label, it may or may not be listed out as to what types of carbohydrates are included. Sugars are simple carbs and can lead to empty calories in your body.

Fat is metabolized in the body as fuel. When it is not used, it is stored in fat cells. Sugars are carbohydrates but they are also stored as fat when they are not used. So, those fat cells can be filling up even if you eat a low fat food.

The conclusion would be that the low fat label doesn’t mean low calorie. There could be hidden ways that those calories are being returned to the foods you are choosing for low fat status.