Do fat-free foods really help with weight loss?

Lona Sandon
Nutrition & Dietetics

Fat free does not mean calorie free. When fat is taken out of food it is often replaced with sugar or other forms of carbohydrate that keep the calories about the same as the regular version of the food. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by eating a little less and moving around more. 

Fat in food helps make it flavorful, pleasurable to eat, and satisfying. Going fat free with many foods could lead you to eat more if it is lacking taste and satisfaction.

Some fat is healthy for us. Choose the right fats by adding nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados, and vegetable oils to your diet. 

To put it simply, fat free food is making us fatter. Clever advertising and a lack of nutritional knowledge has lead the public to believe that by taking the fat out of a product it will be healthier for you. Nothing could be further from the truth because when you pull something out of processed foods, you have to put something back into replace it.  Just one example would be a certain cookie (that I can not mention by name but you know the one in the green box) that proclaims it is fat free but if you flip the box over, the fat has been replaced with copious amounts of sugar.  Furthermore, there really is no big difference in the calories per serving of the fat free cookies (one serving-3 cookies/120 calories) versus the normal cookies sandwich or chocolate chip cookies (one serving 3 cookies/130 calories).  This is just one example in a supermarket full of fat free lies. 

The best solution is to learn to read the nutritional labels on your grocery items and make better selections.  If it says fat free or even low fat, confirm what was added to replace the missing fat. Having an appropriate amount of fat in your diet has healthy benefits for your heart, lungs, liver, bones, helps the nervous system operate, keeps cell walls strong, absorbs omega 3 fatty acids and assist immune system function. Also, fat in your diet contributes to satiety which is your general sense of leaving a meal satisfied.  This is great reason to track the food you eat in a food log like we have here on Sharecare. If you have any questions on how to track your food please feel free to contact me.

Fat free foods another diet fab that society has marketed for ourselves.  We are so obsessed with fat these days that we think if it is fat free it must be good for you.  However this is not the case in a lot of products.  Usually if they are taking out something there are putting something else in as well.  When you go to the store next look at your fat free food and compare it to the regular.  There really is not much difference in it except no fat and an increase in usually sodium, sugars and carbohydrates.  Sometimes having something marketed to you as healthy and fat free is not always good for you. 
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Many Americans rely on fat-free foods to lose weight. In this video, Dr. Oz explains why some of them can actually make you gain weight.

Continue Learning about Dieting For Weight Loss

Dieting For Weight Loss

Dieting For Weight Loss

Losing weight quickly is OK as long as you do it safely, not through a crash diet. You can lose three or more pounds a week by burning more calories than you eat. If you burn an extra 500 calories per day through eating less and i...

ncreasing your physical activity, you can lose about one to two pounds of fat per week. Dietitians recommend a daily minimum of 1,200 calories per day (a 200-pound person might need 1,400 calories). Anything less makes you lose muscle as well as fat, which slows your metabolism. Instead, minimize your intake of starches, added sugars like high fructose corn syrup and animal fat from dairy and meats. Focus on eating fruits and vegetables, soy products, egg whites, skinless poultry breasts, shellfish and fish, nonfat dairy foods and meat that is 95 percent lean. Drink lots of water, don't skip meals, and eat only from a plate while seated at a table.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.