Researchers have known for a while that no-fat and low-fat foods aren’t necessarily healthier than their full-fat counterparts, but the established belief was that they didn’t cost you as many calories to eat. In truth, though, no- and low-fat versions come with their own issues. To make up for the taste left out along with the fat, food manufacturers often add sugar, which has been linked to a whole host of health problems. (Find out Everything You Need To Know About Sugar.)
Still, calories tend to win for dieters, so when trying to trim your waist, most of us are tempted to reach for the zero percent yogurt over full-fat versions. But now, scientists are discovering that these swaps may actually encourage you to gain weight. (Should We Really End the War on Fat?)
In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that people who ate more dairy products—including full-fat cheese and whole milk—didn’t actually see a difference on the scale. But when participants upped their intake of just low-fat dairy products, they tended to eat more carbs like bread and rice. These foods are not only caloric, but can also cause your blood sugar to rise, which may encourage you to pack on the pounds, the study authors explain.
Why do low-fat foods make you crave carbs? Fat is satiating, and without it your body craves more calories to reach a full feeling. (Learn more about Why Low-Fat Foods Don’t Satisfy.)
So go ahead and snack on creamy cheeses and rich full-fat yogurt (in moderation, of course)—just steer clear of the bread basket.
By Mirel Ketchiff