5 Sources of Hidden Calories in Food That Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss

5 Sources of Hidden Calories in Food That Can Sabotage Your Weight Loss

(Last Updated On: April 20, 2019)

istock_000016142505xsmallAre you exercising and watching what you eat but still not losing weight? This is a problem that can test the patience of even the most dedicated dieter. Even though you’re putting forth your best effort, you may still be eating more calories than you think in the form of “hidden calories.” Hidden calories are calories that don’t always come to mind when you tally up your total calorie count for the day, and they can add up fast. Here are some hidden calories that can make it more difficult for you to lose weight.


Many people fail to think about how many calories they consume in liquid form. Whether it’s drinking a beverage with lunch or stopping by the refrigerator for a glass of fruit juice, beverage calories add up fast unless you’re drinking water or unsweetened tea or coffee. Carbonated beverages are bad too. If you’re a soft drink drinker, kick the habit, and don’t order the specialty drinks at Starbucks if you’re trying to lose weight. A 32-ounce soft drink has almost 400 calories, and some specialty drinks at Starbucks easily top that. No wonder some experts say Americans are drinking themselves fat. Don’t let it happen to you.

Hidden Calories in Condiments

So, you’re eating a lean veggie burger on a whole grain bun. Sounds like a winner – until you slather it with a thick layer of mayonnaise and ketchup. When you do this, you’re adding 100 calories or more to your “lean” burger. One tablespoon of mayonnaise has 100 calories, and even though ketchup has only 15 calories, it’s loaded with sugar. How about the butter you put on your toast or the sour cream you drop on your baked potato? Make sure you’re factoring in condiments you use to flavor your food when you’re counting calories.

Salad Dressings

How many times have you made a healthy salad and topped it off with creamy dressing? Creamy dressings have as much as 90 calories per tablespoon, and who uses only a tablespoon? Vinegar-based salad dressings are a better choice if they’re not loaded with sugar. Even better, use salsa, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar in place of bottled salad dressing.

Hidden Calories in Sugar-Free Cookies and Candies

Some people think sugar-free means calorie-free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sugar-free candies and pastries are often higher in fat to compensate for the lack of sugar. If you have to have a cookie or a piece of candy, sugar-free may be a better choice, but don’t count them as free foods. Some sugar-free cookies have almost as many calories as the standard version.

Store Samples and Other Snacks That “Don’t Count”

How many times have you walked through the grocery store and stopped to bite into a free sample? Chances are the calories didn’t register in your mind. Just because you don’t have to pay for it doesn’t mean the calories are free. To make matters worse, stores usually choose to sample items that are less healthy. There’s also the danger that you’ll end up buying unhealthy food items you wouldn’t normally buy just because it tasted good. Eat a healthy snack before grocery shopping so you’ll be less tempted by the free samples.

Hidden Calories in Food: The Bottom Line?

If you’re not losing weight, make sure you’re not tapping into these sources of hidden calories. Keep a food diary and include everything you eat and drink, even store samples, to stay on track.

Are you struggling to lose weight despite your best efforts? Make sure you know how many calories you’re taking in. Here are five sources of hidden calories that can make it harder for you to lose weight.


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