Full Fat vs. Fat Free


I won’t lie, this week has been a little rough over here. Between my cold and Hunter’s lack of napping, I’ve found myself pretty much exhausted by the end of each day. I am welcoming the weekend with open arms! Not that any of those things will instantly end when the weekend hits, but at least I’ll have Cody home to help me out.

First order of business – winners of the Hit & Run 5k giveaway! First winner is #31 Kendra and second winner is #29 Angie! Congrats ladies! Please email me at ashlw0304@yahoo.com so I can pass along your information to the race coordinators.


So let’s move on to what I wanted to talk about today – full fat vs. fat free foods. This thought initially came up when I was at the grocery store a few days ago. I needed some half & half (for my coffee), and as I reached for the traditional carton, I noticed there was a “fat free” version right next to it.


It made me wonder how they could truly make half & half fat free. Don’t they call it “half & half” because it’s half milk and half cream? The last I heard, cream is not fat free – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I figured the fat free stuff either had to be really bland and watered down or filled with artificial and added ingredients.

Well, wouldn’t ya know…


Corn syrup, artificial color, sodium citrate, potassium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, and the list goes on! I don’t even know what half of that stuff is.

And let’s compare it to the full fat stuff…


Two ingredients that I can actually recognize. Much better.

So why the fat free hype? What’s so great about it?

Sure, it’s lower in calories and obviously free of fat, but is that what’s truly important when fueling your body?

When fueling my body, I like to focus on real foods and ingredients. Sure, some of them may be higher in fat and calories than their fat free counterparts, but they are a heck of a lot more satisfying, nutritious, and overall better for me.

Our bodies were not made to ingest chemicals and artificial additives. Those artificial ingredients only do a few things for us – screw up our metabolism, potentially cause cancer and other life threatening diseases, and don’t satisfy us. Uh, no thanks.

This is not to say that all fat free foods are a bad thing. For example, some nonfat/low fat yogurts or milk are completely natural. It’s when companies are adding artificial ingredients and chemicals to make things taste like the traditional/full fat thing that makes it not OK in my book.

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So next time you’re out grocery shopping, I challenge you to take a look at the ingredient list. Do you recognize all the ingredients? If not, put it back and try to get the real version of whatever you’re buying.

P.S. I’m not saying I’m perfect here. I’m totally guilty of occasionally drinking a Diet Coke or not looking at the ingredient list before I put an item it in my cart. And those occasional times won’t kill you – it’s just when you make it a habit that can cause problems. I’m working on it right along with you! Winking smile

Cheers to REAL food!

Do you buy a lot of fat free/low cal foods? If not, did you used to? Do you look at the ingredient list before you buy something?

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  1. says

    I used to live off of fat free everything when I was sick…fat free yoghurt, weight watchers this and that….now I’m all about real whole food, minimally and ideally not at all processed. It’s the fat that gives us that the satisfaction, the feeling of being full, without it we don’t have the ability to intuitively eat…hence why people who eat diet food constantly feel hungry and probably end up eating more! Great post!

  2. Katie says

    I USED to buy a lot of low fat/fat free until I started to look at the back of the packaging and noticed the sugar & sodium was higher than the normal food. I must say this quote comes to mind every time see foods labeled fat free “Whenever you see low fat/fat free, think Chemical Sh*t Storm” Somewhat blunt but true 😉 loved this post!!!

  3. says

    I love this topic. I am not one to really look at ingredients; I eat basically the same things. however, you have now made me want to check ingredient lists for things that are fat free, or low fat, or sugar free, and see what they are using instead of the fat. It’s crazy that there were so many ingreidents when it was fat free!

  4. says

    I used to be a Fat Free fanatic and as long as it had no or low fat, I’d eat it. Fat free bologna and fat free cheese and fat free mayo for lunch with a HUGE bowl of fat free ice cream for dessert. I cringe thinking about it.

  5. says

    Not to mention that you can usually be more satisfied with a smaller serving of the full fat foods! In the past when I buy low fat/fat free, I always consumed more trying to get it to taste as good as the original stuff.

  6. says

    I look back at some of the things I ate during my fat-free, 100 calorie snack pack days and just shudder. It’s no wonder my health took such a huge hit during that time – I was basically shoving nothing but chemicals down my throat. Scary stuff. And because of my allergies, I pretty much always have to look at the ingredients list. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, so the idea of not even glancing at them just seems so foreign to me. Great post, girl!

  7. says

    I actually don’t buy a whole lot of fat free items for this very reason. It’s scary what chemicals and additives they put in our food. When I opt for the full fat version, I just limited my intake and don’t go too crazy with it. I’d rather have the higher fat content than all those bad chemicals!

  8. Laura says

    I love the topic of real food! I am not afraid of fat and buy full fat everything. We need fat to function properly. It’s needed for so many bodily functions. I find that I eat much fewer junky carbs and sugar when I eat plenty of fat too! It’s just so darn satisfying! Good thing dietary fat doesn’t make us fat as many of has been brainwashed to believe over the last few decades! And you’re totally right–take out the fat and the void is often filled with mystery ingredients and sugar. And there are tons of studies pointing to too much sugar being the culprit in many health problems. Just stick to real food! :)

  9. says

    It’s crazy that people have no idea what is in the foods they’re eating. Artificial sweeteners and fat free chemicals are in so many foods, it’s crazy! I try my best for the most part to eat whole foods and regular sugar.

  10. says

    Great post, lady! I remember back in the day I was low-fat/fat-free everything…I’m so happy that I’m past that stage in my life. While I do ingest the occasional foreign ingredient (Coke Zero just calls to me once in a while…) I do try to stay mindful of what’s going in my body. And really, low fat and fat-free cheese is just terrible – I’m much happier with a little bit of the real stuff!

  11. says

    I totally agree with you. If it’s still all natural and you want to cut back on fat, go for the fat free. But why would you want to ingest sick chemicals just to cut a few grams of fat, especially if it’s healthy fat?! I just don’t get it. I still shake my head when people use fat free peanut butter. It’s like.. what? I eat PB because it has fat!

  12. says

    This year I’ve gotten better about not worrying about finding low-fat or fat free options at the store for favorite foods. I’ve realized it doesn’t make that much of a difference as long as you’re eating well. I can’t believe those ingredients, that’s crazy!

  13. Angie says

    LOVE this post… ever since having my baby girl in Feb I have realized how important REAL food is over the calorie-free stuff!! I choose the real thing over the fake ANY day!! It means that I’m healthier in the long run and I’m going to be her momma for a loooong time!! I’m glad you posted this bc sometimes I feel guilty for having the calories but it’s worth it. I think my post partum helped me realize this lol (one of the good things from all the bad!!) Almost always look at the ingredient list!! We’re lucky to have Publix where the “brown price tags” mean it’s made with natural products down here in FL :)

  14. Annie says

    I switched to full fat yogurt a little while ago and wow, I can’t believe the difference! I used to drown my fat free yogurt with sweetener and not only did it never satisfied me, my sweet tooth was raging! Now I have less yogurt because it fills me up faster and it tastes so much better too! I can’t believe it took me so long.

  15. Amanda says

    I have been reading your blog for a while but have never commented, until now. I’m really happy you posted on this topic. It seems like in today’s society people think that low fat and fat free foods are always the better choice, even being recommended by registered dietitians, when in reality they are Franken-foods full of artificial ingredients that our bodies are not designed to process. There is too much emphasis on quantities of calories instead of quality of food. I think it is so important for people to realize that it is much better for your body to eat natural foods with wholesome ingredients, even if the full fat version has fifty more calories than the fat free version.

  16. Dalia says

    I think this was a great post! Other product reviews/comparisons would be really great or even listing products that you should definitely never choose as fat free/low cal/sugar free would be really helpful!

    Like you said.. sometimes buying some products would be ok, but not 100% of the time.

  17. says

    There’s definitely a veil there when it comes to “fat free” things. Fat free doesn’t always equal better! In fact, full fat yogurt is so so so good for you, especially for women and bone health! Like you said, many fat free versions add all sorts of crazy things to make it taste like it’s full fat. No thanks. Great post and great reminder to read the label.

  18. says

    Great information Ashley! I try and explain this to ppl all the time. I try and go with low fat most of the time, but you’re right, sometimes the full fat is just better.

  19. says

    Fun fact: skim milk is actually bluish tinted due to the Tyndall Effect (scattering of light by particles in a suspension). So, they add colorants, like titanium dioxide, to make it appear white. I’ve completely stopped drinking skim milk because of this. I wouldn’t mind if it was a little blue tinted honestly, rather than having to add stuff in that doesn’t belong in milk.

  20. says

    I have really evolved on this issue. When I first started trying to get “healthy”, I was all about the low-calorie and fat-free foods. As the years have passed, and I have educated myself much better on nutrition, all I can do is shake my head at some of these traps. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough education about additives and chemicals out there, and many people are fooled!

  21. says

    i did used to buy more fat-free and low-fat things than i do now… once i had the regular i was like OH YEAH! full fat things are SO much more satisfying for one thing and yes usually fat free and low fat have other stuff in it… like reduced fat peanut butter has more sugar and carbs… uhh i’ll take one gram more fat in the real stuff

  22. says

    Nailed it. Eat the real thing when you can.

    I’m a little biased since I started experimenting with Paleo a couple years ago. I no longer think fat is bad, but I do know that I get a stomachache if I overindulge. If I’ve had a “fatty” day, I might use half a serving of something like real butter on my veggies. But I am 1000x more satisfied if I have a small piece of the real thing than some stripped down, chemicaled-up version that doesn’t taste nearly as good.

  23. Brenda says

    Great topic. To take it a step further, what about real butter vs. margarine? Personally, I go real butter because it’s, well- real. My mom, friends, in-laws, etc all use margarine. I guess the lower fat and calorie content speak to them, but it horrifies me that they ingest so many chemicals. Anyway, mini-rant over.

    • Ashley says

      Real butter all the way! I think margarine became popular when the low cal/low fat fad was happening, and some people still buy it as a creature of habit. Salted sweet cream butter is my FAVE!

  24. Erika says

    Full fat also fills you up more than fat free so “technically” you should be able to eat less of it so your calorie intake of it would be less than multiple servings of fat free.

  25. says

    AMEN. Great points!

    I too try hard to focus on ingredients & the ‘stuff’ that is IN the food versus just looking at the nutrition part of the label (calories, etc.) But I def do look at ingredients, sugar, & protein the most.

    Hope Hunter naps again soon!

  26. says

    Could not agree more! Some fat free things are filled with downright freaky ingredients. And full-fat things are often more satisfying, which means I’ll tend to eat less of it anyway. I used to only eat fat free plain Greek yogurt, but now I love 2% SO much more (even though it’s not full fat). Because Greek yogurt is supposed to have that extra rich factor, right? I find myself much more satisfied with little to no sweetener in my 2%!

  27. says

    I’ve been through the paces with the types of foods I eat. I used to go for fat-free or low-fat everything, then it was low-carb with splenda in everything. Then I realized how terrible splenda and aspartame are for me and fat-free foods just add sugar, so I am all about eating foods with the fewest ingredients possible. Those processed food labels scare me.

  28. says

    I’ve given up so many diet foods for exactly this reason as the ingredient list on some of them is just down right scary!! I have found my body feels much better since I’ve added more fat back in again.

    Sorry to hear about your cold, hope you feel better soon!

  29. says

    Great call. This is so true! I’ve compared ice creams together many times and regular stuff is just SO simple. Plain and simple ingredients. True and pure flavor. Whereas lower fat versions have all kinds of weird ingredients. No thank you.

  30. Debbie @ Deb Runs says

    I pretty much stay away from all fat free foods (except for Costco food court frozen yogurt)!

    I just noticed the picture of Hunter in the upper right corner of your header, and I love it! He is so adorable!

  31. says

    I’ve really made a point lately to make sure I’m eating more natural foods. I am in the middle of Jillian Micheals book Master You Metabolism and it has been a real eye opener. I completely agree about going for the more natural option even if it means “full fat”. Love this post. :)

  32. says

    I used to only do fat free and low cal but have switched. One major switch for me was using butter instead of tub margerine. I kinda just do the best I can with what I know and can afford :). Diet Coke is my pitfall though…daily pitfall unfortunately

  33. Meg says

    Great post! I have started eating full fat cheese (I’m looking at you, brie) and it’s amazing how much more sated I feel after a few small pieces. And, it’s real.

  34. says

    I stopped buying Fat Free Sour Cream when I found out some of the stuff that was being put in it! For the scoop or two I may have occasionally I am going with the fat!

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