The stance that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, whether it comes from fat, protein or carbohydrates, is the driving force behind fat-free anything. Fat weighs in at nine calories per gram, whereas carbs and protein are only four. If you believe that the secret to losing or maintaining weight is to eat fewer calories than you burn, then crossing out the fat from your diet seems like the way to go.


The number of cookies, cakes, ice creams and snacks with “Fat Free!” written in bold on their boxes have adorned grocery store shelves since the low-fat craze began in the 1980s. This was a smart and profitable move on the part of the manufacturers who could increase sales of their desserts and snacks to a whole new segment of the population.

Consumers tend to associate “fat free” with “calorie free,” and may feel less guilty scarfing down an entire box of cookies with the former on the label. Fat holds a lot of flavour, and anything fat-free will be blander. “Cake” and “bland” are two words we rarely want associated together, so to make sure your cake is still rich and sweet, manufacturers will add more sugar, fillers and artificial flavours. This means that the fat-free stuff might have more calories than the full-on full-fat original. Fat does not raise insulin levels and can act as a buffer on carby foods that have a high glycemic index. Take away the fat and your snack will cause a higher spike in blood glucose and insulin levels. And that means more fat will be laid around your mid-section. Fat-loss mission failed.