Say No to Sugar-Free and Fat-Free Claims

US News

You know better: Products labeled "sugar-free" and "fat-free" are not shortcuts to flat abs and tank-top arms. While it may be tempting to reach for the sugar-free cookies or the fat-free cheese, don't let that temptation get the best of you. Give yourself a little slap on the wrist, step away from the Oreos and hightail it out of that grocery aisle--stat!

Those "sugar-free" products may not pack any refined sugars, but that doesn't mean you're out of dangerous territory. In these products, sugar is replaced with artificial sweeteners, which are not any better for you. In fact, they're worse. Sure, artificial sweeteners don't have calories, but they're hundreds of times sweeter than real sugar, which can cause serious confusion for your body. When you eat something sweet, your body expects calories to follow. Because artificial sweeteners don't have any calories, your body goes looking for them later. (Hello, late-night cereal binge.) So remember, if you're trying to lose weight, it's best to stay away from both real sugar and artificial sweeteners. But, if the sweet tooth strikes too hard and you can't resist, allow yourself a conscious indulgence of the real thing.

Now onto fat. You may have averted the crisis of the cookie aisle, but now you've landed in a sea of salad dressings. Who hasn't tried to tweak their choice of salad dressing in an effort to lose weight? But resist that reach for the fat-free Caesar. Fat-free versions of food replace fat with sugar, which is no better an option and eventually gets stored in your body as fat anyway. And you already know that sugar-free dressings have a permanent spot in the dumpster. Keep your salad clean and yummy with good old fashioned oil and vinegar! When it comes to fat, a little of the real thing is far better than any amount of the fat-free option.

Sure, you want to avoid trans fats and saturated fats, but the general term "fat" should not always be negative. When it comes to monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids, I could scream from the mountaintop how much I love them. Yes, I love fat! If you want to know a little more on how to incorporate these good fats into your diet, check out this video.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback.

Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!

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