Contrary to popular belief, the word “light” should be a warning sign to anyone looking to lose weight. There’s a major difference between a naturally low-fat diet and a low-fat diet based on popular fat substitutes like olestra, which can commonly be found in light chips like fat-free Pringles and light Lays.
In a recent study, Dr. Susan E. Swithers and fellow Purdue University researchers found that eating foods made with fat substitutes not only doesn’t help weight loss, but it actually contributes to weight gain. Rats in the study were fed either a high-fat or low-fat diet, but some of the rats were also fed low-calorie Pringles Light chips. The latter olestra group ate more food and gained more weight than any other group.
Swithers explains it like this: our bodies are programmed to have certain responses to high-calorie, fatty and sweet foods, but when a substitute is unexpectedly thrown into the mix, the body gets confused, causing the body to metabolize food differently or more inefficiently than it normally would.
This same type of research has also been tested on artificial sweeteners vs. natural sweeteners, but the real question is whether the findings will have any real implications on our diets? Personally, I can’t imagine giving up my Splenda, and it’s hard to believe a study on rats is going to send Frito-Lay stocks plummeting. But that still begs the question, what’s it going to take for us to realize how detrimental fat and sugar substitutes can be on our health?