Low Fat Myths

If "body shaping" really worked - people who chewed gum would have long, thin faces


After several requests for additional information following my last article on fitness and aerobics, this article will address the current rave of non-fat and low-fat foods. Along with teaching aerobic classes, I am now offering personal training and health assessments for clients, and have derived three easy-to-follow ways to achieve a satisfying diet without having to "diet".


First, the easiest and most obvious way to eat what you like while cutting down on unwanted calories and fat is to reduce your portion size. In other words, instead of a large fry at McDonald's, order a small fry.


Second, in order to remove a large quantity of fat and calories from your diet, there needs to be a better selection process. For example, instead of reaching for a bag of potato chips, choose lower fat pretzels. Or, similarly, choose baked over fried foods.


The third is to consciously monitor your eating behavior and minimize the frequency of poor choices. For example, if you eat high-fat Italian food three days a week and then cut back to once every ten days, you will be saving a considerable number of fat grams and calories.


It is hard to enter a grocery store without being bombarded by a wave of quotes such as, "96 percent fat free", "reduced fat", "low fat", or "lite", which have minimal, if any, value to you as a consumer. One nefarious example of the misleading words in quotes is to examine a majority of regular versus "40 percent less fat" versions of your favorite food. It is critical to note that this comparison is based on fat by weight, and not fat by calories. Obviously, six grams of fat is 40 percent less than ten grams of fat. Unfortunately, that number is not based on the actual calories that you will be consuming. To explain further, once you account for the number of calories in a product, the difference is actually closer to 10 percent, rather than 40 percent.


Another trick is to make sure to compare actual size of the product in its lower fat form and original form. For example, a serving size shown on the packaging of a lower fat food often is smaller than that shown on the original. Also, as all of you are well aware after trying a fat-free cookie, the way a company still satisfies your tastebuds is to add a considerable amount of sugar and/or salt. Unfortunately, this means that your fat-free selection will be adding a considerable number of unwanted calories to your diet.


In sum, if you follow the three suggestions along with the information on the low-fat fad, you will be a better consumer and have a healthy start for the future. Just remember that when you buy a bag of any of your favorite foods, you will finish that bag; whether in a day or in a week; and unfortunately will have to burn off all those additional calories.


See you at the gym!