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How to Spot Hidden Calories in Your Healthy Dishes

When I start working with a new individual, I always like to tell them to list what they eat on a daily basis. I do this for a lot of different reasons. One of them is to be able to show those that think they aren't eating a lot of calories, or think they are eating healthy, when in reality some people are eating an additional 500 calories a day and aren't even aware!

But it’s also important to remember that “healthy” doesn’t mean low-calorie. So while these foods make great additions to your diet, be mindful about how much of them you actually eat. Here’s a look at some common foods with hidden calories.


Salad dressings

Salad dressings - healthy weight loss

While a salad is generally a good idea for a healthy weight loss meal, if there are more calories in the toppings than there are in the vegetables of the salad, it’s probably not a good idea to eat it. Ranch, honey mustard, Thousand Island, French, blue cheese, anything with the word creamy in it. Most if not all of these have 125-150 calories a serving. And serving is only 2 tablespoons. Most people will use 2-3 servings. That's 375-450 calories just from dressing. About the same amount of calories in medium order of fries.



Coffee and lattes are loaded with sugar.

Some common things I see a lot of that people consume but aren't aware of are that they are so calories dense are juices (orange, apple, grape, etc), sodas, coffee creamers, smoothies, lattes/Frappuccino, and sports drinks. Some of these have been labeled “healthy” for one reason or another, but all are loaded with sugar. Sugar is easy to drink and you can really put a lot of these kinds of calories in without really feeling “full”. Not a good thing!


Nuts and other healthy snacks

Nuts and berries are healthy options but in moderation

Things like almonds, peanuts, cashews and macadamia nuts are a great source of healthy fats. But they are very calories dense. Meaning you only have to eat a small amount of them to reach high calories levels. Most people hear that they are healthy or can even help lose weight and tend to eat freely on them. These are definitely something you want to measure out and eat in moderation.


Condiments and sauces

Condiments and sauces can add hidden calories to your meals

These fall under the same category as the salad dressings. Most condiments like ketchup, mayo and barbecue sauce can easily add 200-300 calories to a meal without you knowing. Check the label and stay away from anything that has fat or sugar as its main macronutrient source. Some alternate choices would be hot sauce, salsa, mustard and low sodium soy sauce.

How You Take in Extra Calories

In addition to some of the common foods, here are some of the ways people take in extra or hidden calories they don't really consider:

  1. Going back for seconds. A lot of people will eat a clean meal, but then forget that they had an additional serving.

  2. Unplanned snacking. Some people call this grazing. Just mindlessly eating small things all day. Individually these small snacks don't seem like much, but when added up over the course of a full day they really add up.

  3. Large portion sizes. Again just because something is healthy does not mean you can just eat as much as you want of it! Inversely if you have something like a burger or pasta dish, you would be better served to eat only half the meal, and save the other half for the next day.

  4. Eating extra food because you worked out hard or are exercising regularly and “need it”. This may be true of a highly trained athlete competing in sports, but for the average person who is just exercising to maintain or achieve a healthy weight, it makes very little sense to think this way.

Revive Fitness, can help you reach your fitness goals.

Eating right and creating a tailored, targeted and personalized fitness program is the best way to get in shape. Contact Revive Fitness to schedule your first Personal Training Session with us today.


Article Author: Dwight Wilson

Dwight has over 20 years of experience and is an NSCA-certified trainer specializing in weight loss and enjoys bodybuilding style training. Owner of Revive Fitness, Dwight educates his clients in the areas of strength training, cardiovascular endurance, and proper nutrition.

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