It’s Fat-Free, but is it Healthy?

We see it all over our television screens and on the internet: people crave that perfect body and will go to great lengths to achieve it. While the methods people have employed to reach these “fitness goals” are certainly varied, dieting has always been a key factor for many individuals to stay fit. With this trend in mind, the age of the “fat-free” products emerged, and these “healthy” foods became a staple for people dreaming of that attractive figure.

However, being fat-free does not automatically make food healthy. On the one hand, fat-free foods offer some health benefits. Fats are a rich source of calories. For every gram of fat you eat, you gain 9 calories – in comparison to carbohydrates and proteins, which only give 4 calories per gram. These calories, if left unused, gets stored by our body in the form of body fat. Over time, people living inactive lifestyles, if they continue to eat a lot, will undoubtedly become overweight. Eating a low-fat diet can help because you don’t take in as many calories, which means you need not be as rigorously active to use up those calories. This makes fat-free food great, right?

Not exactly.

Eating Fat-Free Does Not Free You from Eating More

According to researchers from Purdue University in Indiana, they have found that people on long-term fat-free diets tended to eat more food than those eating regular food. Furthermore, they also found that weight gain is more likely for people who eat fat-free diets in the long term. The likely explanation involves two things.

After eating food, our body releases the hormone ghrelin, the hormone for satiety. It has been found that this hormone is released once we reach a certain caloric intake. Fat-free food may have fewer calories than their regular counterparts, which means people will have to eat more than the proper amount to feel full. Additionally, fat-free foods are typically manufactured with additional sugars to compensate for the lack of fats and to maintain the taste.

The notion of eating fat-free foods also triggers the frontal lobe of our brains, which is where our judgment center is. People will be more inclined to think that since they are eating “healthy” food, they can certainly eat more of it.

Combining these two together, it becomes easier to see how people can develop an over-complacency when it comes to eating fat-free foods that they fail to realize eating more can only lead to more calories. And of course, more calories, when left unused, becomes body fat.

What people need to realize is this: It’s not only what’s in the food that’s healthy, but also the discipline we imbibe when we choose to eat them.