We’ve seen it a million times: the brightly colored labels on food products that line the shelves of grocery stores, boldly declaring themselves as “reduced fat,” “low-fat,” or even “fat-free.” Such claims are reassuring at face value. After all, if the problem is having too much body fat, surely the solution is to stop eating foods with fat in them, right?
Not quite. In fact, fat is an important element of a healthy diet, as long as it’s the right kind. Fats such as monounsaturated fat (found in foods like canola and olive oil) and polyunsaturated fat (found in fish and nuts) can actually help in lowering one’s cholesterol. What’s more is that “fat-free” labels can be misleading to unsuspecting consumers looking to lose weight. The standards that need to be met in order for a product to use these labels might surprise you:
- Foods described as “reduced-fat” need to contain less than 25% less fat than the original amount
- Foods described as “low-fat” need to contain 3 grams of fat or less in a serving
- Foods described as “fat-free” need to contain less than 0.5 grams of fat in a serving
As you can see, “fat-free” isn’t always a guarantee, and because the requirements are based on a per serving basis, you can be consuming quite a bit of fat in your “fat-free” product without even realizing you’re doing so. Going even further, when a manufacturer removes fat from a food product, there can be quite a bit of taste that goes with it. To make up for this, other ingredients such as sugar, flour, and salt are often added, all of which contribute to weight gain enormously. In fact, most nutrition and health experts agree that sugar consumption is a far bigger culprit than fat consumption when it comes to being overweight.
So, what do we do with all this information? To start, we can be more aware (and questioning) of those brightly colored labels on food products. Take a moment and look at the nutritional values and make sure you’re getting what you’re looking for. Next, remember that certain kinds of fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. Look for foods with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and stay away from saturated and trans fats. And finally, keep in mind that the amount of fat that’s in a product isn’t the only factor that determines whether that food is healthy or not. There are plenty of healthy food products that are high in fat, such as avocados, eggs, and cheese, while some processed foods that are low in fat also contain high amounts of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that contribute greatly to weight gain.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight solely by cutting out fats, and are becoming frustrated with the lack of results, then you’ve already discovered that going “fat-free” is not a weight loss guarantee. To see what it takes to get real results, get in touch with Ideal You and begin your journey towards true weight loss today.