Low-fat foods not always best for those on diets
Published Wednesday, January 2, 2013 5:39PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 4, 2013 6:59PM EST
Anyone with a New Year’s resolution involving healthier eating is sure to be keeping a close eye on the fat content of foods they purchase.
But experts say that while eating too much fat is a problem, so is not getting enough.
“You don’t want a complete no-fat diet,” says dietitian Rebecca Frazer.
“Fatty acids are very important. They help you absorb your fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K.”
Additionally, says Frazer, replacements for fat can bring their own complications to diet-minded consumers, making items branded as low-fat unhealthy in other ways.
“If it just says low fat, what else is in there? Have they substituted some simple sugars for the fat?” she says.
One brand of light cream cheese, for example, is lower in fat and has fewer calories per serving, but is higher in sugar content.
While drinks and liquids are often seen as healthier choices, liquid calories are still something to be concerned about. Many beverages are surprisingly heavy on calories.
“Even juice has its own natural sugar, and a lot of people drink a lot of juice not realizing that they’re putting the pounds on,” says dietitian Mary Lou St. Pierre.
Frazer says drinking fruit juice, even pure fruit juice, isn’t as healthy as eating the actual fruit, which contains more fiber.
“Certain types of fiber can help you carry out some of the fatty acids. It helps reduce the absorption of the simple sugars,” she says.
According to St. Pierre, most people consume 5-10 grams of fiber each day, but should be aiming to consume 25-30 grams.
Those looking to lose weight fast might think not eating at all can help them meet that goal. But fasting can also cause lean muscle mass, and muscle is what burns calories to keep them from turning into fat.
“It’s better to spread your intake out over the day,” says St. Pierre.
“Have 3-5 small snacks or meals. That way you’re burning up your calories all day too.”