It seems that no food in today’s world is complete without its light (or “lite”) counterpart. Sure, the idea that you can have your reduced-fat cake and eat it too may sound like a win-win, but new research shows that lite foods actually work to derail your physique.
Lite Foods Are More Processed
Have you ever heard a professional bodybuilder or fitness model say: “the secret of my success is eating highly processed reduced-calorie packaged food and shunning natural foods like vegetables and lean meat”?
Of course not. The foundation of any health or physique conscious person’s diet will always be natural foods. Lite foods are the antithesis of natural foods. They tend to have dozens of unpronounceable ingredients, many of which are code names for sugar.
You Eat More of It
Not only are you eating sugar, but you’re eating a heck of a lot more of it. This phenomenon is called the “lite halo effect” by researchers. The lite halo effect happens because we perceive that a food is good for us and we feel good about that decision…and go overboard.
The lite halo effect was put on display recently by scientists at Cornell University. The researchers gave two groups of people the same bowl of M&Ms. However, one was labeled “low-fat” while the other was labeled as normal.
Surprisingly, people didn’t just eat more of the low-fat M&Ms (even though they were not actually low-fat), but they ate 50% more. Worse yet, the people who overate the most were the very people who needed to lose weight the most.
The “Lite” Bulb Going Off In Your Head
It’s helpful to be cognizant of the lite halo effect, but the knowledge doesn’t actually help fight it. This mental trickery is simply human nature.
Here’s how to be avoid falling prey:
Work the Perimeter: The perimeter of the supermarket is bursting with natural, unprocessed foods. On the other hand, the center aisles are where the packaged lite foods lurk, luring you in with bogus health claims.
Know Your Limits: Scientists have also found that when people are presented with a reduced-calorie food, they tend to wildly underestimate how much they consume. It seems that we tend to shut off our portion regulation with foods we consider something healthy. If you want to indulge in a lite food, be sure to keep a close eye on how much you are putting in your mouth.
Eat the Full-Calorie Version: Studies show that we eat about 10% more total calories when we eat a lite food than a regular one (this 10% includes the compensation for the lite food having less calories in the first place). In other words, you’re better off going with the standard, full-fat and full-calorie version. Ironically, you end up eating fewer calories in the process.