Low Calorie and Healthy Substitutions for Fat and Sugar


Although the total amount of sugar being consumed is actually decreasing, the average diet of the American public consists of as much as 30% from fats and sugars.1  Though these nutrients are stored for later conversion to energy by the body, the amount of fat and sugar actually expended as energy is less than the amount consumed for a majority of people. In other words, Americans are eating too much fat and sugar, and as a result, they are gaining weight. This move toward being overweight and even obese is perilous to the overall health of individuals and their families.

There are different ways to address this issue. Cutting out fats and sugars in your diet is one approach.  Restricting the size of portions is another. Eating the same amount and adding exercise is also a sensible approach. Another way to deal with this healthy weight issue is to consider low calorie and healthy substitutions for both fat and sugar.

Low Calorie and Healthy Substitutions for Fat

The dietary intake of sugar and fat is sometimes referred to as eating empty calories. These calories are usually not fully expended or burned but rather are metabolized and stored as fat.2 One necessary step in meal planning is to consider healthy and low calorie substitutions for fat.3

You cannot live without some fats in your diet. Fat plays an important role in energy storage. Instead of eliminating fat, it is better is to reduce the amount of saturated fat intake. If you are cooking, for example, use low-fat options like skim milk instead of whole milk or lean beef. Choice low fat oils or even margarine over any product containing trans-fats. Polyunsaturated fat is considered to be a healthy fat, so canola oil and olive oil are better for you than coconut oil. Coconut oil is commonly found in processed and packaged foods.

Dairy products do contain a high percentage of fat. Instead of whole milk or dairy products you can choose fat-free or low-fat dairy. It’s not difficult to find low-fat or fat free milk, cheeses, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese.

Healthy Substitutes for Sugar

Americans eat far too much sugar. It is present in various types of commercial products whether we know it or not. This is one reason why we need to read the labels, and you will probably be surprised once you do. Sugar is in many products including bread, yogurt, soups, gravies and a variety of processed foods. There is nothing wrong with sugar, per se. It is just that we consume too much of it based on activity levels.4

If you want to watch your weight or are diabetic, sugar can quickly become an enemy. While total removal of sugar from the balanced diet is impossible since fruits and vegetables have their own natural sugar, it is possible to reduce or eliminate refined sugar from the diet. In the world of refined sugar, that means turning to artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners do have the acceptance of both consumers and various organizations around the country. Once considered a threat to health and safety, artificial sweeteners are now accepted as being generally harmless.5 Statistics from 2004-2005 indicate that there are a minimum of 6,000 artificially sweetened products available on the marketplace.6 In the United States, there are three main compounds that are used in the current artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes. These are:

  • Aspartame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose

Using sugar substitutes instead of sugar is a good option to ensure your weight loss program is not jeopardized. These substitutes can provide sufficient low-level energy density foods with the taste they need without threatening to increase body weight.7


If you are on a weight loss plan or simply want to lead a healthier life, you should evaluate the amount of sugar and fat you have in your diet. Americans, on average, consume too much sugar and fat on a daily basis. If you find your diet has too much fat and sugar, you have several options. You can decrease the amount, you can remove it or you can use various substitutes. Low-fat or no-fat food can help you cut down on your fat intake. In the case of sugar, consider using artificial sweeteners. They are safe, convenient and readily available.

If you have any questions about switching, talk to your medical professional. He or she can tell you about the latest research and the findings. A doctor or nutritionist will also inform you that for optimum effect you should make sure that reducing or removing fat and sugar from your diet is only part of a weight loss program. It’s also important to eat a balanced diet and to exercise.


1 Welsh, J. A.; Sharma, A. J.; Grellinger, L. and Vos, M. B. (2011). “Consumption of Added Sugars is Decreasing in the United States.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 94 (1): 726-734.

2 Wylie-Rosett, J. (2002). “Fat Substitutes and Health: An Advisory From the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association.” Journal of the American Heart Association. 105: 2800-2804.

3 American Dietetic Association (2005). “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Fat Replacers.” J American Dietetic Association. 105:266-275.

4 Meister, K. and Doyle, M. G. (2009). “Obesity and Food Technology.” www.acsh.org/search/search2.asp?q=sugar substitutes.

5 Mitchell, Helen (2006). Sweeteners And Sugar Alternatives In Food Technology. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

6 Neporent, L. and Schlosberg, S. (2005). The Fat-Free Truth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

7 Rodearmel ,S.J.; Wyatt, H.R.; Stroebele, N; Smith, S.M.; Ogden, L. G.; and Hill, J.O. (2007). “Small Changes in Dietary Sugar and Physical Activity as an Approach to Preventing Excessive Weight Gain: The America on the Move Family Study. Pediatrics.120:e869-e879.


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