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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Fat free or sugar free, which label is better?

    I'm on a diet and get really confused between fat free and sugar free products. Which should i be buying? I feel like i should be getting all the fat free products because i want to reduce my weight, but the lollies i eat are 99% fat free which certainly isnt good for me? I find all of this so confusing!
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  • 5

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    Natalie Carter

    Personal Trainer

    Natalie Carter, owner of New Outlook Fitness & a PT with over 10 years experience in helping her clients transform their lives. She takes a … View Profile

    Definitely sugar free however we should steer clear of artificial sweeteners. Stevia is an option (in my opinion I'd use it all to wean off sugar and not as a permanent fixture in your diet) 

    Read this article for more inforamtion on how to give up sugar: http://www.nataliecartertalksfitness.com/2011/10/nosugarvember.html

  • 3

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    Pam Robinson

    Personal Trainer

    Personal Trainer Figure Competitor View Profile

    Agreed!

    Avoid sugar free.

    Increasing my fat intake (Paleo diet) has helped me strip a heap of bodyfat…and I have the fat gene!!

    www.nitrofit.com.au

  • 1

    Agree

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    Melissa Adamski

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I am an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) and Accredited Nutritionist (AN) with a passion for food and good nutrition. I also have my own private … View Profile

    Label reading can be confusing especially with all the marketing claims out there that companies use. Your question about whether you should aim for fat-free or sugar-free on a label when on a ‘diet’ is not a simple straight forward answer.

    What is the reason for your ‘diet’? Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) assess individuals' overall nutrition needs before making a recommendation and so you cannot just say ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ products are better for you.

    You need to look further into the label- there are many healthy fats (unsaturated fats) that are protective for the body and we need to include them for good health, even when we are losing/managing our weight. It is the saturated and trans fats we need to limit in the diet to reduce our risk of chronic diseases. Therefore a ‘fat free’ label for good health may not be appropriate- if the good fats have been taken out and there were no bad fats to start with then this product may not necessarily be more healthy than the original.

    Sugar can come from many ingredients in a product so it is important to look at the source, for example if a product has dried fruit in it the sugar from the fruit will turn up in the nutrition panel as ‘sugar’. It is better to look for ‘added sugar’ in the ingredient list ie is sugar listed in the first 3 or so ingredients. If it is this usually means it is an added sugar and generally we should be trying to reduce the added sugar in our diets.

    If it is weight loss you are looking for remember to consider your entire energy intake for the day- this is important. An Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can provide you with the latest scientific evidence on nutrients and teach you how to incorporate this in a healthy lifestyle for you while taking into account any other health conditions you may have- teaching not only about quantity but also quality!

    Remember, if a food company takes out fat then they normally have to replace the taste with something- sugar and salt are usually the options. Same with sugar- if sugar is taken out then the product may have more fat and salt added.

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    Agree

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    Having gathered 28 years of private practice experience , Genevieve wants to assist people with practical changes to their food and lifestyle issues in order … View Profile

    Dear confused label-reader,
    I agree with all my APD colleagues above.
    I just wanted to add that a ‘sugar-free’ label means it contains no sucrose. However, it may contain fructose or lactose or maltose, in fact any other sugar ending in -ose, or it may contain sorbitol. All of these are sugars which renders the sugar-free label fairly meaningless.
    Although it makes doing the shopping a longer process, learning to analyze the food labels on each product is the only way to actually know what you are buying.
    Consulting an APD for further help would be your best bet!

  • 2

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    Dr Richard Wong

    Personal Trainer

    Qualified with a B: Human Movement Science and Certificate. I grew up with sport. I competed succesfully at a state and national level as a … View Profile

    You should be looking at both items. you need to consider whether the product you want is free of saturated fats but high in good fats. you need to also consider if the product has alot of sugar. at Vision Personal Training Castle Hill, we educate our clients through a shopping tour. here we go through the aisles of the coles and read food labels and compare products. you should be looking at the amount of carbs and then how much sugar that product has compared to others. then you need to look at how much fat the item has and if that fat comes from saturated (bad fats) or good fats. as a general rule, make shure you so most of your shopping in the fruit and veg department. buying majotiy of foods that are unprocessed, full of minerals and vitamins, low in bad fats, and green options that are low in carbohydrate. make sure to eat some carbs though, coming from sweet potato, berries, brown rice. you must also consider, when you are buying any meat products that you are buying lean sources. all meat products, carry a saturated fat. any fish will have essential omega 3's. you will need these to carry your essential minerals and vitamins around your body.
    www.visionpt.com.au

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    Erin Miller

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Accredited Dietitian and Nutritionist Erin Miller is passionate about health and wellbeing. The Nutrition Network is her home and she opens her doors to assist … View Profile

    I aggree with my APD's above, you need to look at your entire dietary intake to make an overall assessment. Label reading can be confusing, especially with the additional nutrition claims! In general when comparing products look at the ‘per 100g’ column to compare amounts (such as energy, fat, sodium, or sugar). 

    I would recommend seeing an APD for further individual dietary advice.. and education on label reading.

    Erin

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    Elizabeth Newsham-West is committed to optimising the health and well-being of people across all ages within the Mount Tamborine community.  She works as a domicillary … View Profile

    I don't think you should be taking notice of any marketing messages on packet foods but learn to assess the quality of the food by knowing how to read labels appropriately as my collegues have suggested. Then you can sort through all the misleading messages and identify healthy food choices for yourself.

    Fat free and sugar free products are usually highly processed foods and neither may be good for you. Food manufacturers use these messages all the time to encourage you to buy their food and as you can see from the posts above trap people into thinking that some of these messages are indicators of good food choices.

    I recommend you get your advice from a health care professional who specialises in nutrition and  is also able to provide information that is specific for your nutritional and health needs. 
    I agree with you . There are so many confusing messages on what food is good or bad for you,I am not surprised if anyone knows how to eat healthy anymore.

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    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    You may find this video of interest - The sugary truth (http://www.dietdoctor.com/the-sugary-truth)

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