What Does Fat-Free Really Mean?

You Need to Stick to One Serving

Food Label. Robert George Young/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Question: What Does "Fat-Free" Really Mean?

When a product is labeled fat-free, does this mean there is literally no fat in it at all?

Answer: The answer is no. For a product to be fat-free, it must contain less than 0.5g of fat per serving. This is all very well and good if we eat the stated serving size of that food, say one cookie. But how often do we eat just one cookie?

We are fooling ourselves if we believe that since the food is "fat-free" it doesn't matter how many servings we eat--that since it is "fat-free" we won't be ingesting any fat.

The truth is, if we consume more than one serving of that food, it ceases to be fat-free. And all those fractions of a gram will add up and count toward your daily fat intake.

One final word of caution: fat-free doesn’t mean calorie-free​, or preservative-free. What some fat-free products lack in fat, they make up for in sugars and other unhealthy additives. So, although you may think you are doing yourself and your diet a favor by eating a fat-free food, your body may not feel the same way.