Which is more important to do when I’m watching my weight, count calories or count fat grams?
You’re not the only one confused on this one. I’m still sticking with my original thoughts on the issue of whether you should worry about calories or fat grams when it comes to controlling your waist.
In some incidences, cutting back on the fat in your diet will also dramatically cut back on the calories. For instance, switching from whole milk (8 ounces = 150 calories, 8 grams of fat) to skim milk (8 ounces = 86 calories, < 0.5 grams fat) will save you a bundle in both the calories and fat department.
However, while fat-free, low-fat and reduced-fat foods will have less fat, and many times less of the heart-unfriendly saturated and trans fats (a very good thing, by the way), reducing the fat does not always cause a drastic reduction in calories per serving. And more importantly, these lower fat foods, especially when it comes to many snack items, are often times misinterpreted as being “calorie-free” in our minds, wrongly giving us false permission to eat them, well, freely.
A quick trip down the supermarket aisle recently had me reading labels and comparing calories to bring this point home.
When traveling down the cracker aisle, the lower fat varieties in these snack items may have saved you some fat, but the calorie reduction only panned out to a difference of, at most, 20 calories per serving. (The saltines were a wash.) As for candy, while Swedish Fish, jelly beans, gum drops, and other similar sugary sweets may be fat free, the calories are still all there. Granted, these fat-free sweets are lower in fat and saturated fat than most chocolate-based treats, but if you overeat them, you’ll be in for a caloric shock… quickly.
Low-fat or fat-free foods can be a better bet for reducing your intake of the less heart-healthy fats, but they are far from “free” when it comes to calories. You still need to watch the overall calories in your diet, not just the fat, if you want to see some movement in a positive direction on the bathroom scale.