Low Fat vs. Full Fat Diary
The war on low fat vs. full fat dairy rages on! For that matter, so does the long-standing debate around eating dairy at all! I think it’s just part of our culture and our human nature to endlessly bicker about the nuances of dieting while completely ignoring the problem from a macro level; but let’s save that for another post. Let’s assume dairy IS part of your diet and that you truly want to know which is best for you.
Despite the fact that a recent article from Time magazine seems to posit that eating full fat dairy may actually be better for you, the body of the article, if read correctly, really says it’s up to you. Well, rather, it’s up to you based on your needs.
Read: The Case Against Low-Fat Milk Is Stronger Than Ever
Despite seemingly taking a side, though, the article isn’t about which is inherently healthier. It’s rather about how studies demonstrate how people work dairy into their daily lives.
the body of data is beginning to reveal both that full-fat dairy has a place in a healthy diet, and also how focusing on one nutrient in the diet may backfire. When dietary guidelines began urging people to lower the amount of fat they ate, the idea was to reduce the amount of cholesterol and unhealthy fats in the body. But by focusing just on cutting out fat, experts didn’t count on the fact that people would compensate for the missing fat and start loading up on carbohydrates, which the body converts into sugar—and then body fat.
people who had higher levels of three different byproducts of full-fat dairy had, on average, a 46% lower risk of getting diabetes during the study period than those with lower levels
Despite this good initial data, which started down the path that the full-fat versions were, in fact, inherently better, the remainder of the article supports the idea that those who eat low fat dairy generally eat less fat on a whole, replacing fats with higher carb, higher sugar foods. Doing so will obviously translate to not only weight gain but higher risk for disease.
I fully support their admonishment to avoid doing just this. Removing necessary macronutrients like healthy fats (we’re looking at you Avacado) is not the right path to heathy weight-loss.
I personally use low fat and fat free dairy, but only due to the calorie content. I do not shy away from healthy fats like nuts and olive oils, though. However, for how little I eat dairy I can easily cut a few calories by using the fat free version of milk for my coffee or the occasional bowl of whole grain cereal.
So, to answer the original question, which is better is up to you. If you like the taste of full fat dairy and have your daily calorie target under control, then definitely have it. If you need to find easy ways to cut down on calories to stay within your goal, using the fat-free version is a simple way to help. Do not, however, cast ‘fat’ on a whole as an evil and substitute healthy fats for processed junk. This message is to those who specifically seek to continue to eat low fat and fat free versions of junk food to avoid changing habits. Fats are a necessary macronutrient, you just need to avoid the unhealthy saturated fats and trans-fats found in processed garbage you find on the supermarket shelves.
Having trouble losing weight? We can help! Check out our online coaching page. For what you’d pay for a single session with a trainer we’ll create a tailored program and help you course correct as needed.
Don’t want to make major changes? Check out our Mindful Living Program. The easiest weight-loss program you’ll ever need.