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.

CaloriesFat Carbohydrates
 Whole milk1 cup1508g12g
 Low-fat (2%) milk1 cup1205g12g
 Skim milk1 cup800g12g
 Raspberry Danish Twist1 slice (53g)22012g27g
 Fat-free Raspberry Twist1 slice (53g)1400g33g
 Choc. Chip Chewy Granola Bar1 bar (28g)1203.5g21g
 Chewy Fruit Low-fat Granola Bar1 bar (28g)1102g22g
 Fruit No-fat Granola Bar1 bar (28g)900g23g
 Potato Chips1 oz.15911g15g
 Low-fat Potato Chips1 oz.1102g23g
 Fat-free Potato Chips1 oz.700g16g

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

 ProductServing Size CaloriesFat Carbohydrates
 Premium Vanilla Ice Cream 1/2 cup 27018g 21g
 Light Vanilla Ice Cream 1/2 cup 100 4g 14g
 Sugar-free Vanilla Ice Cream 1/2 cup 903g 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.

 ProductServing Size CaloriesFat Carbohydrates
Vanilla Creme Cookie2 cookies 1155.5g16g
Vanilla Creme Reduced-fat Cookie2 cookies 1102.5g21g
Fig Bars2 bar cookies 1102.5g20g
Fat-free Fig Bars2 bar cookies 1000g22g
Peanut Butter2 tablesoons 19016g7g
Reduced-fat Peanut Butter 2 tablesoons 19012g15g
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.

faq2Do you have questions about low-calorie sweeteners? Want to learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle? You asked and we listened. Our resident Registered Dietitians answered the most popular questions about low-calorie sweeteners.