Can Light Products Make You Fat?

Light foods became popular as an option to supplement weight loss diets. However, are they as good as they seem? In this article, we'll tell you more about these products.
Can Light Products Make You Fat?
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 08 April, 2023

“Light” products often draw the attention of people that are struggling with excess weight. However, are they as good as they claim to be?

First, let’s remember that everything related to body weight has increasingly become one of the most important health concerns of our century. Having obesity is a risk factor in the development of diseases, in addition to determining its prognosis. For this reason, a series of diet changes should be gradually implemented.

Precisely, this concern for body composition has brought about the mass marketing of light foods. These products commonly promise a lower caloric density than their counterparts. However, they’re not always the best option.

Why? Up next, we’ll explain the secrets behind this range of foods.

Light products contain fewer calories

What characterizes light products is that they provide fewer calories than their normal variant. This is often done by restricting the fat content in the product. However, on many occasions, the amount of simple sugars in the food stays the same or is even increased.

The dangers of continual consumption of simple carbohydrates are known today, and you can read all about it in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Bioscience.

On the other hand, removing fat from food, unless it is of the trans type, is usually not a good idea. Fat-soluble vitamins are often dissolved in nutrients such as ones from the D group. In this manner, we are reducing the contribution of micronutrients to the body.

Continuing with the case of vitamin D, we’re currently facing an endemic deficiency of this nutrient. If we further reduce its contribution, we may experience several mid- to long-term health problems. The reserves of this micronutrient are limited. Plus, its deficit is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular or inflammatory diseases according to an article published in the Annual Review of Medicine.

light products
Light products indeed contain fewer calories than the same food in their normal version. However, this does not always make it a better option.

Light products can incite excessive consumption

Even though the caloric density of light products is lower than that of their counterparts, we sometimes tend to ingest a greater amount of these knowing that we’re dealing with a lighter product. Therefore, the total energy consumed is greater than if we opted for the classic variety.

As if this were not enough, a greater volume of this product implies an even greater contribution of simple sugar and even additives. In this way, this form of consumption can affect our state of health in the medium and long term.

How to correctly plan a diet

Instead of looking for the least caloric foods on the market, it is better to base our diet on fresh products. Reducing the consumption of processed foods is beneficial in terms of reducing calories, sugars, and additives.

This invariably translates into a reduction of the risk of developing complex diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders linked to processed foods.

Furthermore, we must choose less aggressive cooking methods that require little to no oil. This way, we limit the production of substances that are toxic and harmful to the body, such as acrylamide.

On the other hand, we shouldn’t neglect the intake of healthy fats. These are best found in oily fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Limiting intake of animal fat (although there is some controversy at the scientific level) and trans fat can lead to better health.

Light foods are more processed
Choosing fresh food over processed food is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet.

Beware of light products!

Light products offer us a version with fewer calories. This, however, isn’t a reason to trust and stop reading the labels carefully. On many occasions, the caloric reduction is due to a suppression of fats. One may then compensate for the palatability level by consuming bigger quantities and using simple sugars.

This, added to the tendency to consume more of these types of products due to the lack of concern regarding caloric balance, which may lead to a progressive deterioration in the quality of our food.
A healthy lifestyle is one that combines variety and balance of foods as well as the practice of regular exercise. To achieve this, we must increase the consumption of fresh products and reduce those of processed products.

Although it is possible to choose a variety of products of the light type, it’s not a good idea to neglect the consumption of healthy fats, especially the mono and polyunsaturated kind.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Freeman CR., Zehra A., Ramirez V., Wiers CE., Volkow ND., et al., Impact of sugar on the body, brain and behavior. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed), 2018. 23: 2255-2266.
  • Wang TJ., Vitamin D and cardiovascular disease. Annu Rev Med, 2016. 67: 261-72.
  • Luick, B. (2020). Advances in Food and Nutrition Research. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior52(3), 336.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.