The Truth About No-Calorie Food Products: No-Calorie Salad Dressing, No-Calorie Sweetener, No-Calorie Spray, and More

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Hi Hungry Girl,

I just discovered a brand of salad dressings and condiments that have zero calories per serving! But I have to wonder... Is this too good to be true?

Skeptic in Savannah

Hi Skeptic,

Sorry to be the bearer of not-so-great news, but chances are, it is too good to be true. The same goes for many other so-called calorie-free products. Here's the need-to-know info...

The Truth About No-Calorie Food Products: No-Calorie Sweetener, No-Calorie Spray, No-Calorie Salad DressingThe Rule: According to the FDA, if a product has less than 5 calories per serving, the label can claim it has 0 calories. That may seem minor, but the stats can really add up... especially if the serving size is unrealistically small.

Zero-Calorie Dressings and Condiments: First of all, a lot of these don't taste all that great. Second, the true calorie counts are a bit of a mystery. My advice? Skip 'em altogether, and opt for low-calorie kinds. Click here and here for some of my top picks!

No-Calorie Sweetener Packets: The average no-calorie sweetener packet actually has 4 calories. That's still a calorie bargain compared to real sugar, which has about 11 calories per packet -- especially since it takes at least two sugar packets to equal the sweetness in one no-calorie sweetener packet. And with so many varieties on shelves these days -- including stevia-based natural picks -- there really is something for everyone.

Nonstick Cooking Spray: The labels on most sprays say 0 calories... for a 1/4-second spray. Um, what? That's practically impossible to even count. A more realistic 1-second spray has 5 to 10 calories and about half a gram of fat. Still pretty impressive! There are times when regular oil works better than the spray, so just measure it out -- a teaspoon has around 40 calories and 4.5 grams of fat. P.S. Check out this all-natural grapeseed oil spray!

No-Calorie Butter Spray: While a 5-spray serving has less than 5 calories, a full teaspoon (about 25 sprays) has around 20 calories and 2 grams of fat. That's actually more than an equal amount of light whipped butter/light buttery spread, so keep that in mind if you tend to overspray.

Takeaway Tips! If the serving size on a no-calorie product is much smaller than the amount you're using, or if you're using it often throughout the day, be aware that you're racking up calories, and keep track of them -- 4 calories per serving is a safe estimate. And if you use a lot of said product, you might want to consider low-calorie options instead, just so you have a better idea of how many calories you're actually consuming.

Hope this info helps!


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