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.

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 SizeCaloriesFatCarbo.
Premium Vanilla Ice Cream1/2 cup27018g21g
Light Vanilla Ice Cream1/2 cup1004g14g
Sugar-free Vanilla Ice Cream1/2 cup903g14g
Low-fat Strawberry Yogurt1 cup2403g46g
Non-fat Strawberry Yogurt1 cup1600g31g
Light Strawberry Yogurt with Sugar Substitute1 cup1000g18g

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 SizeCaloriesFatCarbo.
Vanilla Creme Cookie2 cookies1155.5g16g
Vanilla Creme Reduced-fat Cookie2 cookies1102.521g
Fig Bars2 bar cookies1102.5g20g
Fat-free Fig Bars2 bar cookies1000g22g
Peanut Butter2 Tbsp.19016g7g
Reduced-fat Peanut Butter2 Tbsp.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.

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