Food labels can often be a little misleading when it comes to the calories contained in your food. When you see a label that touts it is 95 percent fat free, does that mean that the 5 percent of the calories come from fat? This short guide can explain to you what exactly is meant by 95 percent fat free and how to be a savvier shopper when it comes to your calories.
The Definition of 95 Percent Fat Free
When a label claims to be 95 percent free, it is not saying—contrary to popular belief—that only 5 percent of the calories come from fat. The legal definition of 95 percent fat free is 95 percent of the weight of the product doesn’t contain fat. This distinction may not be obvious at first, but here’s the breakdown. If a product is labeled as 95 percent fat free, 5 grams out of 100 come from fat. The rest can be anything—protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, water, etc.
Fat contains more calories per gram than anything else—each gram of fat contains 9 calories. This is in opposition to proteins and carbohydrates, which only have 4 calories per gram, and water and dietary fiber don’t contain any calories! This means that it isn’t possible for a 95 percent fat free item to only contain 5 percent of calories due to fat.
How to Be a Savvier Shopper
Learn to read nutritional labels and take everything you read with a grain of salt. Food companies are required to give you certain information, and from that you can do some simple math to determine where your calories are coming from. The following information is required on most foods sold in stores:
- Total calories
- Calories from fat
- Total fat
- Saturated fat
- Total carbohydrate
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
To figure out what percent of your calories come from fat, you can divide the calories from fat from the number of total calories. That percentage will tell you actually what percent fat free a food item is based on calories.
Fat and Calories
Fat in foods has gotten quite a bad rap. Fat itself is not necessarily bad for you. In fact, some fats are not only healthy for you, but required by the body. The reason why many diets have you pass on the fats is because fat has more calories than anything else. By cutting the fats, you can cut the calories. However, when you go to lower fat foods, it doesn’t always mean you’re cutting your calories. Look carefully at nutrition labels for everything you eat. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing meant to make you buy one product over another. If you want to reach your weight loss goals, it’s best to cut your calories—whether they come in the form of protein, carbohydrates or fat.