Less Fat Often Results in Fewer Calories!

Whether a product is low in calories, fat or sugar, it is important to remember that calories still count when making choices for a healthier diet. As the new federal obesity guidelines state, “You do need to watch your fat intake. But remember calories count too.” Typically, when you choose a reduced-fat product you can count on cutting fat and calories, but sometimes this is not the case. Below are some popular products identified in generic terms to illustrate the typical case as well as the exception. For more calorie chart comparisons, visit the calorie counter.

The products in the following table illustrate that less fat can often result in fewer calories.

Product Serving
Calories Fat  Carbohydrates
 Whole milk 1 cup 150 8g 12g
 Low-fat (2%) milk 1 cup 120 5g 12g
 Skim milk 1 cup 80 0g 12g
 Raspberry Danish Twist 1 slice (53g) 220 12g 27g
 Fat-free Raspberry Twist 1 slice (53g) 140 0g 33g
 Choc. Chip Chewy Granola Bar 1 bar (28g) 120 3.5g 21g
 Chewy Fruit Low-fat Granola Bar 1 bar (28g) 110 2g 22g
 Fruit No-fat Granola Bar 1 bar (28g) 90 0g 23g
 Potato Chips 1 oz. 159 11g 15g
 Low-fat Potato Chips 1 oz. 110 2g 23g
 Fat-free Potato Chips 1 oz. 70 0g 16g

Further calorie savings are possible if you choose a version sweetened with a sugar substitute, as shown in the table below.

 Product Serving Size  Calories Fat  Carbohydrates
 Premium Vanilla Ice Cream  1/2 cup  270 18g  21g
 Light Vanilla Ice Cream  1/2 cup  100  4g  14g
 Sugar-free Vanilla Ice Cream  1/2 cup  90 3g  14g
 Low-fat Strawberry Yogurt  1 cup  240  3g  46g
 Non-fat Strawberry Yogurt  1 cup  160  0g  31g
 Light Strawberry Yogurt with Sugar Substitute  1 cup  100  0g  18g

There are always a few exceptions to the rule. The following table compares several reduced-fat foods to their full-fat counterparts. The reduced-fat versions have been significantly reduced in fat. However, because extra carbohydrate has been added to maintain good taste (you can discover this by comparing the Nutrition Facts labels, looking under “Total Carbohydrate”), the calories are roughly the same. If you’re watching your weight, remember that lower fat doesn’t always mean lower calories.

 Product Serving Size  Calories Fat  Carbohydrates
Vanilla Creme Cookie 2 cookies  115 5.5g 16g
Vanilla Creme Reduced-fat Cookie 2 cookies  110 2.5g 21g
Fig Bars 2 bar cookies  110 2.5g 20g
Fat-free Fig Bars 2 bar cookies  100 0g 22g
Peanut Butter 2 tablesoons  190 16g 7g
Reduced-fat Peanut Butter  2 tablesoons  190 12g 15g
The Bottom Line – In the late ‘80s, some obesity researchers began to advocate counting only fat grams, and ignoring calories, to lose weight. For instance, the book, “The T-Factor Diet” (published in 1989), proclaimed on the cover: “Lose Weight Safely and Quickly, Without Cutting Calories — or Even Counting Them!”

As these tables illustrate, the bottom line is that, for people who want to control their weight, fat and calories matter.