Serial Trainer

{August 1, 2008}   Lowfat vs Light

One of the biggest problems people have when going on “diets” is that they are confused by the labels. Products boasting “Lowfat!” are deceiving buyers into thinking they are getting something good for them. Here is the difference between these two products.

Lowfat items will have a lower fat content, usually, but do not fall into the dark side! Check your calories. Calories are your holy grail to losing weight. You have to consume less calories than what you burn, daily. So what exactly do you need to look for on the label?

First and foremost, calories and serving size. On a can of soda, a serving size could be 2 servings per can. Those small bag of chips can be 2.5 (depending on the size). Be careful to know how big their serving size is for the information it’s giving you.

Next is sugars. A lot of energy drinks contain a lot of sugars. These can sabatoge your workouts. Save energy drinks for when you work out for more than an hour. If you workout for an hour or less, stick to just water.

Another big thing, equally as important are the carbs. Carbs get a bad reputation but learning the difference between your carbs is vital. You’ll hear a lot about slow burning carbs (like oatmeal) and those are great for giving you a full feeling, take a longer time to digest and promote a consistent level of blood sugars. Examples of slow burning carbs are: Yams, whole grains breads, potatoes, or brown rice. If you’re diabetic, your doctor and diabetes nutrition counselor will tell you what the best menu choices are for you.

Sodium is another diet sabatoge. Items with a high sodium content are to be avoided. Too much in your diet can cause high blood pressure and other health ailments.

The “monster” of the healthy eating world? Trans fats. I can not say enough bad things about foods containing this sludge. Go to your pantry and/or cabinets, find anything with trans fats in them and promptly throw them out. They cause a plethora of health issues and I can’t even list them all in one post.

So in light of all this confusion, I’m borrowing the following table to help you sort through the confusion that the manufacturers have caused you and hopefully shed some light into the darkness that we call “translating labels”. Companies are closely regulated when it comes to making statements about the food they sell. When you see information on food labels, this is what it means:

Content Claim Definition
Fat Free Less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.
Low Fat Three grams of fat or less per serving.
Low Saturated Fat One gram of saturated fat or less per serving.
Lean Less than 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.
Light One-third less calories or no more than 1/2 the fat of the regular product; no more than 1/2 the sodium of the regular product.
Sodium Free Less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Low Sodium Less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Very Low Sodium Less than 35 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Cholesterol Free Less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving.
Low Cholesterol Less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol per serving.
Good Source Indicates that a serving contains 10 to19 percent of the Daily Value of a nutrient.

Erin says:

what does sugar free mean then? And, if something has low calories and high fat is that good for you? Or, is no/low fat with higher calories better? What is the order to look at? Calories/sugar/fat or calories/fat/sugar?

serialtrainer says:

Erin — Sorry that this took so long for me to respond. I’ve had a lot going on!

As far as high fat goes, that’s a tricky subject. Avocados and nuts have high fat but are great for you! As with all things, “in moderation” is the key phrase. Depending on what your goals are, that is the order of looking at the labels. It’s very hard with this general of a question to give you such a narrowed answer, unfortunately. Check out if you’d like some more in-depth answers more keyed into your specific needs. OR you can always respond back and I’d love to hear!

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