Forum: Advice / Health & Nutrition

reduced fat, same calories
By Garnet_Juliet
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 03:30 PM

Have you ever noticed how often the "light" and "reduced fat" grocery items often have nearly the same, the very same or even sometimes MORE calories per serving size than the regular item?

This kills me.

Just yesterday I went shopping and here's what I found.

frozen seasoned fish fillets:
regular item has a serving size is 110 grams (2 fillets) with 130 calories a serving.
The same item branded as having fewer calories is 90 calories a serving but serving size is only 50 grams. (still two fillets)
That amounts to about the same amount of calories per gram. You are literally just eating smaller fish fillets. The light version also had a smaller total weight per package so you are paying the same for less fish.

Peanut butter:
both the reduced fat and the all natural regular both had the same amount of calories per tablespoon, but the all natural had fewer ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup. To reduce the fat, they took out the fat but just replaced those same calories with sugar.

Grated Parmesan cheese:
Regular and reduced fat both had the exact same amount of calories per tablespoon. Again, the reduced fat version just had a different ingredients list.

Here's the one that killed me.
Store brand Honey graham crackers. Reduced fat had 10 MORE calories per serving than regular. (Same serving size of two whole crackers)

Not that these things are super healthy and I get them only as treats or snacks or convenience food. Still, I always try to look at calories and serving size because the whole "reduced fat" / "light" thing is potentially meaningless.

22 Replies to reduced fat, same calories

re: reduced fat, same calories
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 04:03 PM
And they are usually full of more chemicals.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Niennamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 04:18 PM
^I only buy organic reduced fat/non-fat things for that reason.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 04:21 PM
I just eat the full fat versions of real food. You can have 2 tbsp. of full fat sour cream (from amazing grass fed cows) for only 50 calories. Why would you ever buy the low fat?
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 04:34 PM
^ Because decades of fad diets endorsed by celebrities in glossy magazines have taught many women that low fat equals healthy, no questions asked. Same reason people blindly follow their calorie count without thinking about nutrients or any of the other numbers on on the packet.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 04:44 PM
^ I get that, Louise. It was a somewhat rhetorical question. :)
re: reduced fat, same calories
By teenydanseur
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 04:49 PM
Yea reduced fat food that has a lot of junk in it is still junk. It's like when they add vitamins to sugary cereal. It's still junk. Just get real parm and grate it, peanut butter (almond butter might naturally be less fatty than peanut butter) and cook regular fish with your own seasonings. On the plus side all of those options are cheaper than buying the packaged stuff in the long run.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Garnet_Juliet
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 04:57 PM
The frozen seasoned fish was way way cheaper than the unseasoned fillets of the same type of fish. Per ounce it was cheaper at 38 ounces for 6 dollars instead of 12-16 ounces for 7-8 dollars. I guess it was because they were on special sale.

Almond butter is like twice the price of peanut butter.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 05:00 PM
My opinion is that if I'm gonna eat something bad for me, I might as well eat something good! That means reduced fat is usually out, and reduced sodium is always out!! Ewwww!

I do use skim milk, but that's only because that's what I grew up with, and I find fuller fat milks to be too heavy. (Although, I did go through a phase in which I would only drink 1% milk, and then only 2% milk...then I stopped drinking milk entirely, and now only use it on cereal on occasion and in baking). I also buy the low-fat yogurt most of the time...but that has to do more with the flavors that they sell in the larger packs than anything else.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By kandykanePremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 05:11 PM
They also usually have crazy high sodium levels. Most people forget to check the sodium count.

kk~
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 05:25 PM
and reduced sodium is always out!! Ewwww!

I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing, although personally I love salt and I don't concern myself with my salt intake. A lot of foods over the years have had ridiculous levels of salt added for no good reason and I'm not talking ready meals. Maybe you buy some ham for ham salads - if you were going to buy ham anyway, and you were watching your salt intake, why NOT buy the reduced sodium version? Like I said I pay no heed to that sort of thing and would probably add salt, but others are more conscientious than me.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 05:35 PM
Louise wrote:

and reduced sodium is always out!! Ewwww!

I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing, although personally I love salt and I don't concern myself with my salt intake. A lot of foods over the years have had ridiculous levels of salt added for no good reason and I'm not talking ready meals. Maybe you buy some ham for ham salads - if you were going to buy ham anyway, and you were watching your salt intake, why NOT buy the reduced sodium version? Like I said I pay no heed to that sort of thing and would probably add salt, but others are more conscientious than me.


I agree that if you are watching your salt intake it makes sense...but I've never once had a reduced sodium food that tasted right, and very few have even been palatable to me. The worst by far though was the reduced sodium Campbell's chicken noodle soup. OMG AWFUL!! (My dad bought it accidentally, and it wasn't until I had heated some up to eat that we noticed because it said it in super inconspicuous writing).
re: reduced fat, same calories
By PogMoGilliesmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 07:02 PM
The problem is that in America especially, they add insane amounts of sodium to prepacked foods. We're taught, by the foods we eat, that salty=flavorful. If you are trying to watch your weight, having that much sodium will make you retain water, and encourages you to eat more.

If you want more flavor, add herbs and garlic rather than salt. You still get bold flavor without the excess sodium

back on topic- Most of the time when you look at the ingredients for something that has had fat taken out of it, rather than being naturally fat free, you will have 2-3 times the ingredients, and many of them will be unpronouncable.
It is far healthier to buy the origonal item, and limit your intake, rather than use the chemicals.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By kandykanePremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 07:12 PM
Too much sodium in your diet can slip up on you without you noticing. Most Americans eat 3 to 4 times the daily recommended amount of sodium. (which is 2500 mg on the high side, ideally, it should be 2000 or less). But you check those labels. It's very hard to eat that 2000-2500 without going over. And restaurants are impossible! Many restaurant meals have over 5000 in one plate of food!

Too much sodium does indeed make losing weight harder, it's also terribly bad for your heart and blood pressure.

The best way to watch your weight is to eat fresh foods, watch your portions, limit your visits to restaurants and get some excercise.

kk~
re: reduced fat, same calories
By teenydanseur
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 07:21 PM
Garnet_Juliet wrote:

The frozen seasoned fish was way way cheaper than the unseasoned fillets of the same type of fish. Per ounce it was cheaper at 38 ounces for 6 dollars instead of 12-16 ounces for 7-8 dollars. I guess it was because they were on special sale.

Almond butter is like twice the price of peanut butter.


This can be true and unfortunately you do have to dig, for fish I go to asian food markets, for some reason the fish their is always WAY cheaper than the regular grocery store. I buy in bulk and freeze!

Also I do trader joes (if you have one in your area) for foods like almond/peanut butter, often with those places the only thing in the butter is the nut listed, and their peanut and almond butter runs $1.99 (I think they do same price across the country)

With grocery stores depending on what is typical is what they will put a premium on, so you have to find the foods that are typical to the customer and go there. I have found walmart to be decently priced across the board even on specialty health food items so I guess that would be an exception!
re: reduced fat, same calories
By KeepOnSinginPremium member
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 07:24 PM
It's not even that they lack flavor (to me)...they just taste...funky...

But I make almost all of the food I eat...so I can control most things about it. Pretty much the only things I buy premade are pasta (I mean, how many people actually make their own pasta, homemade?), yogurt, cheese, butter and peanut butter...I buy plain chicken breast cutlets and season them myself, buy fresh fruits and vegetables (or frozen without additives). I mean, I usually also have a few cans of canned veggies for those nights that I want to eat right then and there...but I haven't touched them in at least a month.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Garnet_Juliet
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 09:20 PM
I will try some asian markets, thanks! I hadn't thought of that. Since they are smaller and "specialty" I always just assumed they'd be more expensive. I guess it would be out of my way to go there, though.

It's like, you have to choose your priorities: money/time/health. What's at stake the most? What can you stand, and not stand, to lose?

Oh, about the sodium! I know! Sodium content in some foods is crazy and you know it's to preserve the food and to cheaply add flavor and to make you want to keep eating it without knowing why. Salt makes you want to eat more. Salt makes you thirsty so in restaurants it makes you buy more drinks. Salt is a cheap way to make food seem tastier without adding real flavor. Salt makes you feel full without actually giving more nutrients.

I wouldn't care about it as much but my husband has high blood pressure so we started noticing it more.

Canned food is so bad.with sodium. If you get a slow cooker you can easily make your own soup, tomato sauce, and you can soak and cook your own beans. Then you can freeze any of that in 1-cup portions so you don't have to use canned.

I admit I love salty food but it really is bad for you and it will make you feel yucky in a subtle, mysterious way.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By LeSoulierVertmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 09:34 PM
I think it's important to remember that not all calories are made equal. I find it imperative to balance the calories I get between protein, carbs, and fats. For example I might choose to eat non-fat yogurt so that I can afford the calories from fat to eat half an avocado the same day. Or if I have a bunch of carb/fat calories from a piece of cake, I'm going to try and balance that with protein and veggies later. It's all about balance and finding what works for you.

I do agree though that a lot of the reduced/low/light stuff is a scam and often includes more processing and crap.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By toroandbruinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:08 PM
It's true -- "reduced fat", "reduced sugar" and "lower calorie" by themselves do not tell the whole story. Sometimes a prepared meal is "lower calorie" only because it has smaller portions, not because the vegetables are steamed rather than cooked in butter and the meat has been prepared from leaner cuts. On the other hand, some lower-calorie fruit preserves have truly been created with little or no additional sugar added. They are more tart than regular jams and jellies but taste just as good or better to me. You have to read the ingredient information carefully to figure out what you are getting.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Gioiamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:21 AM
Coccinella wrote:

I just eat the full fat versions of real food. You can have 2 tbsp. of full fat sour cream (from amazing grass fed cows) for only 50 calories. Why would you ever buy the low fat?


It is funny you used sour cream as an example, as that is one of the only things I actually buy the "no fat" counterpart of. I think for 2 tablespoons I save nearly 50 calories (regular daisy has like 70 calories, no fat version has 20) and actually get more protein (although negligible). I also prefer to use the low cal options for salad dressing and a few other condiments. Because, really, any condiment is a treat for me and if at all possible I try to make my own. Oh, yeah, and bread. Sarah Lee makes a good low calorie loaf of bread. There is nothing undesirable added to those items to make them low calorie.

As far as anything pre-packaged, I don't pay attention to "reduced fat" labels. I look at the nutrition facts, or go with homemade. For some people it is very hard for them to make things from scratch and then get their portion sizes correct. I think that should be a main focus rather than looking for a way to somehow make it easier to diet.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By maureensiobhan
On Fri Mar 15, 2013 08:44 PM
I don't know if any of you have ever noticed that on sugar-free pop or sugar-free instant Cappucino coffees, one ingredient that replaces the sugar is a chemical called Aspartame. This chemical can lower the seizure threshold for people who have epilepsy.
re: reduced fat, same calories
By Coccinellamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Mar 15, 2013 08:54 PM
Wow, that is very interesting. My brother in law is medicated for epilepsy and I'm pretty sure he drinks a lot of diet pop with aspartame. Do you have a source for that?
re: reduced fat, same calories
By imadanseurPremium member
On Fri Mar 15, 2013 09:08 PM
My nephew on seizure medication was told not to drink/eat anything with aspartame. Their doctor also told them to stay away from MSG, but he also has autism, so maybe that is part of the reason for both.

There are a few studies of aspartame that have conflicting results. A 1992 study published in the journal "Neurology" examined the effect of aspartame and placebo on 10 children suffering from epilepsy. The children receiving aspartame suffered an increased rate of seizures compared to the placebo group. Researchers of a 1994 study in "Annals of Neurology" and a 1995 study published in "Epilepsia" reached the opposite conclusion. "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reported on a 1998 study that aspartame had no adverse effects whatsoever on brain function in healthy adults.

The Pacific Epilepsy Society in affiliation with the Epileptic Foundation of Maui has completed a seven year study on Epilepsy and Seizures, that have really good evidence that aspartame has increased epilepsy in their subjects.

There is one link between aspartame and seizures that is irrefutable. Aspartame may cause seizures in people with phenylketonuria.

Me personally, I just think aspartame is evil for a variety of reasons and is toxic, but that is another discussion all together.

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