Post by Emily White
So you have probably been told by somewhere along the grapevine that fat is actually your friend (if you haven’t then you should look into doing the HPN course!!).
Shameless plug aside, many people despite the knowledge tend to reach out for the low fat foods when in the supermarket. Why? Because no one denies it sometimes does tend to have fewer calories than the full fat counterparts, and if you can save a few calories here and there it’s not going to hurt right?
The main thing that people fail to understand is that dietary fat provides the taste and texture of food. Without it you are left with a low fat cookie that resembles cardboard. Therefore in order to remedy this, more often than not sugar is added, and lots of it. Therefore low fat foods are often high in sugars and other refined carbohydrates that are put in to improve the quality of the food. So while it is true that carbohydrate per gram have less calories than fat, thereby potentially reducing the over all calorie status of the food item, the quality and nutrient status is generally a lot lower, leaving you hungry and unsatisfied shortly after.
Also, the terms ‘low fat’ say nothing about the quality of the food. This follows the saying that we are ‘starving on a full stomach’. This means that we are getting all the calories we need, however the food we are eating is of low nutrient status thereby our bodies are starving for the nutrients that allow it to run optimally. This became a real problem when people started to go crazy over low fat foods which are often nutrient devoid compared to the full fat counterpart.
Dairy products in particular are an interesting one. While many people are now avoiding more obvious low fat food products such as biscuits and mayonnaise it is amazing how many people still go for the trim milk in their coffees. Studies are now suggesting full fat dairy may in fact decrease your chances of obesity. One particular study from The Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care followed 1782 men and showed strong correlations between the consumption of full-fat dairy products and lower risk of central obesity development (1). This is further reinforced by a meta-analysis that was done of 16 relevant studies in the European Journal of nutrition suggesting the same conclusion- if your going dairy- go high fat (2), proving that full fat products are superior over their low fat counterparts.
Finally, a 2005 study by Berkey and colleagues found (contrary to the authors hypothesis) that lower fat varieties of milk products were associated with weight gain but full-fat dairy was not (3).
Do these conclusions make you want to throw out that watery trim milk yet? They should!
It is important to remember that when choosing the food that we eat- nature does it best.
1. Holmberg S, Thelin A. High dairy fat intake related to less central obesity: A male cohort study with 12 years’ follow-up. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care. 2013;31(2):89-94.
2. Kratz M, Baars T, Guyenet S. The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease. Eur J Nutr. 2013;52(1):1-24.
3. Berkey CS, Rockett HH, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Milk, dairy fat, dietary calcium, and weight gain: A longitudinal study of adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 2005;159(6):543-50.