Okay, it may not be the greatest lie ever told but by gosh, it’s up there in the top ten and when it comes to health, fitness and the general well being of the population, you can bet on this being the biggest lie told in modern times.
What is this lie? The lie I am talking about is the marketing bullshit (pardon my French) of “Low Fat” foods.
I’m not sure if you caught the documentary shown on BBC2 last year titled “The men who made us fat” but it was absolutely fantastic in revealing just how we’ve come to believe in the myth that low fat foods are better for us in the western world.
Everywhere I look, I see the uninitiated newbie dieter piling on the low fat food alternatives, the weight watchers ready meals and low fat cookies, biscuits and ice cream in a vein attempt to lose weight because they’ve bought into the marketing that eating low fat is what gets you lean.
Let’s dissect this a little. From the point of view of science,Fat is the most energy dense macronutrient; that is, fat yields the most calories per gram when compared to carbohydrates and proteins. Fat yileds 9 calories per gram where else proteins and carbs yield 4. Because the basic fundamental of weight control states that less calories consumed than burned = weight loss, this was taken to heart by the manufacturers of processed foods in an attempt to sell more of their stuff to the weight conscious market that was growing fast.
The trouble with low fat alternatives is that fat makes food palatable. In order make lower fat foods more palatable sugar and chemical nasties are added. Sugar not only has an adverse effect on fat loss (infact, the obesity epidemic can blame high sugar consumption instead of fat consumption) it also poses other health risks.
This isn’t to say that eating fats is good for you however, there are certain unsaturated fats that are recommended such as mono unsaturated plant oils such as linseed oil which are high in essential fatty acids and fish oils which are high in omega 3 and 6, EPAs and DFAs.. all of which do the body good.
We’ve no developed an entire population that does not question what goes into their bodies and believes in the marketing. Even to this day, I see adverts for so called health foods claiming their products are part of a balanced and healthy diet simply because they’re low in fat and calories yet neglect to mention how much sugar is in them. In fact, one advert for Alpen breakfast cereal bars did this the very other day.
When it comes to healthy eating, especially if you’re conscious of weight management, I would strongly advise you to look at labels on foods. Make sure the sugar content in foods is not high and that it’s not laden with chemicals. Avoid making food choices based on marketing. a “Low Fat” product does not necessarily mean healthy. Make wise choices and look at the ingredients and nutritional information and eat as naturally as possible. That’s my advice anyway!