How light is lite?

Light foods generally have 25 to 30 per cent less fat than the regular product.

But they’re not much help in the weight loss stakes UNLESS they also save you kilojoules (calories).

Surprisingly many light products don’t!

Here’s my quick guide to the genuine light foods and the ones to steer clear of.

Genuine light foods and ones to steer clear of

Group 1: Genuine savings

Light versions of milk, cream, sour cream, coconut milk, evaporated milk, Cheddar cheese, beer and margarine are worth swapping over to. These light products offer dieters good savings in both fat and kilojoules.

Group 2: Be wary

Light versions of chocolate, ice cream, muffins, biscuits and potato crisps often declare themselves lower in fat but do not save you any significant kilojoules. This comes about due to the addition of extra sugar and starches (as well as thickeners or gums) to improve the texture and mouthfeel to the “lighter” product’.

Group 3: No difference in kilojoules

These foods claim to be light but have no fat reduction at all. Instead they are lighter in colour, salt or texture – think of light olive oil, light gravy and lightly-salted crisps. Read the label and compare.

So, what’s the bottom line?

  • You can’t eat twice as much of a light food just because it has 25 percent less fat! At the most, you can eat a tiny 10 percent more or you end up consuming more kilojoules. Compare the kilojoules per serve to what you normally eat.
  • Fat adds flavour and creamy richness so when you remove it, you need to provide bulk and flavour some other way. That’s why light foods often have MORE sugar or carbohydrate.
  • Consider enjoying a small amount of the ‘real thing’ than an extra-big serve of the light alternative.

Catherine Saxelby is a nutritionist and author of Nutrition for Life. Get more healthy eating tips at