Clare Collins is a fellow of the Dietitians Association of Australia who has published guidelines for dietitians for the mangement of overweight and obesity in adults.
In 1982, we got our first set of Australian Dietary Guidelines, recommending we “avoid eating too much fat”.
The second edition of the guidelines in 1992 called for us to “eat a diet low in fat, and in particular, low in saturated fat”. Then, in the mid-1990s, guidelines for foods with low-fat and reduced-fat content claims on their labels appeared in the Code of Practice on Nutrient Claims.
If a food label claims a product is low in fat, it must contain only three grams of fat or less per 100 grams of product.
The dietary guidelines were revised again in 2003 and the recommendations for lower total fat and saturated fat choices were embedded across a number of the guidelines, with a specific statement to “take care to limit saturated fat and moderate total fat intake”.
If you’re putting low-fat foods into your trolley, stick to the ones that would’ve been around in your grandparents' day. We have now been advised to reduce our fat intakes for over 30 years, and low-fat products flood our supermarkets and food courts. The good news was we found there were lots of studies, with a systematic review and seven recent randomised-controlled trials. If you’re putting low-fat foods into your shopping trolley, it’s wise to stick to the ones that would have been around in your grandparent’s day.
If a low-fat diet is not palatable to you, you can still lose weight eating more fat, but you will need to be more aware of the kilojoule value of the foods you choose to eat.
The bottom line is that when it comes to weight loss, watch the total kilojoules, because it’s excess kilojoules rather than dietary fat that leads to weight gain. A standard McVitie’s chocolate digestive contains 85 calories; a light one has 77 – a difference of just 8 calories which can be burned off in less than a minute of swimming or running. A Tesco low-fat yogurt has more calories per pot – 130 – versus the Activia standard yoghurt with 123 calories. Our research also uncovered misconceptions amongst consumers about what the terms reduced fat and light mean. In August Populus surveyed 1,005 UK residents online about their consumption of low-fat, reduced and light foods asking: how often they ate these foods, the reasons they chose for doing so and what they thought the terms low-fat, reduced-fat and light meant.
We took a snapshot sample of twelve low-fat, reduced and light products from across all supermarkets, and compared them with their standard counterparts and other products on criteria such as the calorie, fat, sugar, salt content and compared ingredients.
For your own interest, it might be useful to find out about the nutritional facts of the foods you eat on a regular basis.


So when I first got familiar with Doug Graham's program, I was thrilled to find out more about ideal food combinations, classifications and new recipes. Non-profit foundation providing reliable, scientifically accurate, personalized information for convenient and enjoyable healthy eating.
We use a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives licence, so you can republish our articles for free, online or in print. If, on doctor’s orders, you had to follow a low-fat diet, a trip around the supermarket was fast – skim milk, lots of vegetables and fruit, cottage cheese, fresh fish, and that was about it.
If it says reduced fat, it must contain at least 25% less fat than the usual version of this food. Sadly, however, our waistlines have continued to expand and our fat intakes have not reduced. Somewhere along the way, low fat has been misinterpreted to mean “eat more” because it is low in fat. Overall, when protein and energy intake were held constant across the two diets, both approaches were equally effective in achieving weight loss. This means eating more vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products, plus whole grains, fish, or vegetarian sources of protein such as baked beans.
Products labelled with these terms only have to contain 30 per cent less fat than the standard version, yet only sixteen per cent of those people surveyed understood this.
We looked at a broad range of different foods products from the leading food brands to give an overall picture of how low-fat, reduced and light products differ from the standard versions.
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So rather than linger over a sliver of sponge cake that would contain about 600 kilojoules (150 Calories), I can scoff a muffin the size of a small plate with as many as 2,000 kilojoules (500 Calories), because the sign said low fat.
We are calling on Morrisons andIceland, the two remaining supermarkets yet to adopt the traffic light labelling system, to do so as soon as possible. I'm convinced that you'll only gain knowledge about something if you try it and feel initial and sometimes long-lasting changes. Most people understand the principles of a low fat diet where one ideally consumes foods that are low in fat. Fat has the highest kilojoules so you would think that following a diet low in fat should automatically mean you eat fewer kilojoules and lose weight.
Graham is proposing three meals a day which I knew would be a challenge for me during the 4-week-trial regarding that I love snacking throughout the day.
The fact is that processed foods often contain more refined sugars and artificial flavors than the body is able to handle.


Yet, their fat content is very high so that I've reduced my consumption to 1-2 tablespoons a day. I tend to have a fairly big breakfast on most days, then usually train, snack through the afternoon and have a main meal in the evening, either raw or cooked. Coconut oil and dates are great foods to consume straight after a workout and will speed recovery and muscle repair.
That's plenty if I take into account the various other sources of fat found in oils, margarines, chocolates, avocados, nuts and seeds. So sticking to a diet where the body should be allowed enough time to digest the food in between meals turned out to be not the right thing for me after a week. But less body weight doesn't automatically equal healthy and fit. There is another approach to the low-fat diet. Life is an exploration and in connection with ultrarunning, living on a certain diet is also a spiritual experience. For lunch, I'd have a big salad with fruits, lettuce and dried fruits and for dinner usually an all raw food or cooked vegan meal. I wasn't training for a race at the time so that I didn't need to adjust my dietary needs for training in particular. A minimum of 80 percent of calories should come from carbohydrates, a maximum of 10 percent of calories from fat and another 10 percent from protein. A research on 5000 people who lived on raw vegan foods showed a 65% - 70% consumption of fat.
I noticed that I'd overdone the fruit and started to add flaxseed oil so that the sugars from the fruit would slowly be released into the blood stream. In contrast, these fats can be defined as saturated fatty acids found in baking goods and deepfry oils whereas some raw foodists eat high amounts nuts, avocados and seeds. I was certainly eating plenty of carbohydrates and very little fat but didn't feel satisfied at all. It's a very individual matter and I'm convinced that obsessing over food too much takes away the enjoyment of eating. The more consciously I combined foods the more aware I became of how my body was digesting food. I've learnt to let go a little bit and not spoil my evening because the pasta dish might come with a sauce that contains traces of dairy.



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