foods: Low-fat, low-carb, and low-calories (or low-cal)
do these terms mean for you if you are trying to lose weight?
Food companies use a variety of terms to appeal to
those who want to eat healthy or are trying to
lose weight. Some terms actually mean
something while others are actually
misleading. This article explains what these
terms mean to you, what to watch out for, and how
to lose weight by being smart.
Among the great variety of diets and diet products available, some times it is not easy to figure out what the names really mean. This is the case, in particular, for the terms: Low-fat, low-calorie,
low-carb, and net carbs. Let us take a look at the meaning of these
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This is the original term for diet foods, also called “diet” or “light”. It indicates that a food has lower number of calories than the regular version of the same food. For example, low-calorie potato chips, when compared to regular potato chips, have lower calories per unit.
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The “per unit”
part is a very important fact to consider because you have to compare apples to apples. If the regular food has, for example, 100 calories per every 4 ounces and the diet or low- calorie version has 70 calories per every 3 ounces you can not just look at the numbers and say that the diet version is really great because it has 30% less calories. Manufactures sometimes play these tricks and make it confusing for those of us who are arithmetically challenged. In the previous example we can do the following
100 calories per 4 ounces = 25 calories per ounce
70 calories per 3 ounces = 23.33 calories per ounce
If you are going to eat 3 ounces, the difference in total calories is in reality very small. Some people think that if the food is low-calorie they can eat a lot of it. This, as shown in the example, is not the case.
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||This indicates that a food has lower
fat content than its original version or low
fat in general. A low-fat food does not mean necessarily that this food is low on calories or healthy. The term low- fat can be tricky because it is not a precise term. Low-fat versions of regular foods have to have lower fat content than its original versions but they are not fat-free. A good example is low-fat ice cream. Even though it is low fat, it still has fat and sugar. It is not a low calorie or healthy food; the same applies to low fat potato chips and other foods.
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In the 90s the diet industry was focused on low-fat foods. Some of the diet gurus of the time told us that, “Fat makes you fat.” The message was that if we take away the fat content, we can eat a lot more and get the same number of calories. Certainly all fats are rich in calories, and of course, they are fat calories. The body stores fat as fat and it does not need to burn many calories processing it. It is believed that fat calories are more difficult to burn in the first place. But just because a food is low fat does not mean you can eat more of it.
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It indicates that that food is fat free or it does not contain fat or it has so little of it that the FDA allows the manufacturer to put the label “fat free”. Fat-free food may be high in calories, and in some cases, very high in carbohydrates.
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