It drives me crazy how so many still equate low fat foods with health.
It’s obvious some foods are naturally low in fat, like fruits and vegetables, and they are indeed super healthy.
But, what I’m concerned about here are those foods manufacturers pride themselves on offering consumers, foods that are low in fat, yet they are packed full of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
So, which low fat foods are to be avoided? Let’s consider the top 7 low fat foods that are actually bad for you.
1. Low Fat Breakfast Cereal
Breakfast cereals are one of the most common foods to appear in the pantry.
For many, it is simply how they start their day.
However, some of the so called healthiest options are the worst offenders.
General Mills Nature Valley Granola Cereals is just one example. It contains 18g sugar in a 0.67 cup serving.
That’s a lot of sugar for breakfast!
For context, I occasionally have cooked oats for breakfast with about one teaspoon of sugar. My teaspoon of sugar equates to roughly 4g of sugar.
If you’re stuck in a bit of a breakfast rut, here are some alternatives for breakfast in my easy breakfast ideas article.
2. Low Fat Flavored Yogurt
I have a love-hate relationship with yogurt!
I absolutely love yogurt, it is a regular on my shopping list, but I detest how people can’t seem to get it into their minds that low fat flavored yogurts are not healthy.
They are basically dessert!
Plain yogurt with beneficial bacteria is a wonderful food, on the other hand, and is even thought to help with weight loss.
However, low fat, sugar sweetened yogurt contains far too much sugar to qualify as a nutritious choice.
If you can’t bring yourself to eat plain yogurt as is, add a little honey to it for a healthy dose of sweetness.
For more on the benefits of greek yogurt click the linked article.
As a side note, low fat frozen yogurt is often thought to be a healthier choice than ice cream.
However, it usually contains just as much sugar as ice cream, if not more, and it is typically eaten in larger quantities, since people think it is healthier.
3. Low Fat Salad Dressing
I love salad dressing, but my dressing is never, ever low fat.
I usually make my own dressing actually, and you don’t need anything fancy to do that, it’s really so easy.
The fact is, fat should never be taken out of dressings, because it helps the body absorb antioxidants from leafy greens, carrots and tomatoes etc, the very foods you are adding it to – so it makes complete sense to keep it full fat.
Most low fat/ fat free dressings also contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
So, what should you use instead?
I love to use citrus fruits, olive oil and a little salt and pepper. If you need to you can add a small amount of sugar to take away the bitterness, but it is far less than you would get from the bottled dressing.
Another favorite of mine is simply mayo, French mustard and salt and pepper. That is what I use on a coleslaw-type salad.
And, one of the absolute best options is simply adding a sliced avocado on top of your salad, no need for any other dressings.
4. Low Fat Cookies
Low fat cookie shouldn’t even be on your radar!
They are quite simply a waste of calories, and they certainly aren’t any healthier than regular cookies.
Researchers have confirmed what you already know if you’ve ever eaten one – these low fat versions are not satisfying compared to the originals.
Remember, a little fat can make the difference between eating one or eating the whole box, because fat gives a sense of satiety, and without it you just want to eat everything… literally!
Like most low fat foods, the sugar content of these cookies is super high, and they taste really bad, too. ‘Nuff said!
My advice? Have a regular cookie, but make it just one.
5. Low Fat Blended Coffee Drinks
Don’t get me wrong, coffee is awesome!
I drink it daily for the taste, the antioxidants it contains that are protective to the heart, as well as how it boosts mental and physical performance, and increases your metabolic rate.
However, sugar laden, low fat coffee drinks are not recommended.
Let’s have another example…
A 16oz Starbucks Caramel Macchiato contains 34g of sugar. That’s crazy!
So, what should you go for instead?
I suggest getting a regular coffee, without all the bells and whistles.
Or, if you like iced coffee, this can be a good option, but be sure to ask for unsweetened, otherwise you’ll get 20g of sugar in your cup.
Don’t forget that calories from liquid are the most problematic in terms of weight gain.
This means that adding sugar to coffee transforms a healthy drink into one that can lead to health problems, with large consumption.
If you can’t think of drinking coffee without sugar, why not go for tea instead?
Learn more about the health benefits of tea in the linked article.
6. Low Fat Cereal Bars
These bars are often marketed as a healthy on-the-go-type snack for busy people.
However, they are also loaded with sugar, and are in no way satiating.
One example is the Nutri-Grain Apple Cinnamon Bar, which contains 13g sugar per bar.
Instead, go for something that is higher in protein, so that you feel fuller and it will help prevent overeating, too.
As a side note, energy bars are another no go area!
They often have vitamin and minerals added, which is deceiving. However, they are mostly nothing more than a glorified candy bar.
A much better option would be something like an apple and some natural nut butter.
7. Low Fat Spreads
This might just be the one I detest most out of this whole list!
Margarine… seriously, doesn’t it sound like something you shouldn’t be eating!?? Maybe it’s just me!
These so called ‘light’ spreads are constantly marketed as being heart healthy, which is actually really scary, since they contain trans fats and that is definitely not a heart healthy fat.
Needless to say, I am a huge butter fan. I love it for the healthy benefits, and the glorious taste.
I’ve dealt in depth with this topic before, so I don’t want to go into it again right now. You can read more about full fat dairy in this linked article.
If you just want to shortened version it basically says: just eat butter!
The real problem right here…
In short, avoid heavily processed low fat foods, and instead replaced with unprocessed, whole foods, close to their form in nature.
Simplistic, but totally true!
What about you, do you eat low fat foods?