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Difference Between Low-Fat and Full Fat Foods

author image Melodie Anne
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.
Difference Between Low-Fat and Full Fat Foods
The terms "low-fat" and "reduced-fat" have different meanings. Photo Credit: eternalcreative/iStock/Getty Images

The labels on all manufactured foods indicate the reference amounts customarily consumed, or the RACC, which is the typical portion size for the food item. Some full-fat varieties of foods must have a specific amount of fat, depending on the type of food. To be labeled “low-fat,” however, foods need to contain 3 grams of fat or less per the RACC.

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Full- Fat vs. Low-Fat

An example of a full-fat product is whole milk, which contains 3.25-percent fat, or 8 grams of fat per 8-ounce glass. This is a standard fat level for this particular food item. One-percent milk would fit into the low-fat category, since it has 1 percent milk fat, leaving it with 2.5 grams of fat, per the RACC.

Other Lower-Fat Terms

For a food to be labeled “reduced-fat” or “less fat” -- both of which are different categories from “low-fat” -- the food needs to have at least 25 percent less fat than the original version of the food, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Or, if the food is a prepared meal such as a frozen dinner, it needs to have 25 percent less fat than the original version, per 100 grams of the entree.

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