Calories that are Sneaking into your Diet

Calories that are Sneaking into your Diet

Calorie counting has long been a successful tool in controlling one’s weight. Most dieters know that to lose weight and keep it off, they should limit their calorie intake to 2,000 or less per day. For those that count calories but still struggle with weight gain, however, the problem could likely be that all of the calories consumed aren’t being counted. Extra calories tend to sneak into diets in ways many people never consider. Here are a few to watch out for.


Most people know that soda is loaded with calories, but what about coffee? Plain brewed coffee has only two calories per cup, but extras like cream and sugar can easily tack on an extra 100. Going to Starbucks for that coffee? Many of Starbucks’ 16 oz. frappuccinos contain over 300 calories and 50 grams of sugar. McDonald’s iced coffee isn’t much better; a 11.5 oz. serving with the syrup and light cream included weighs in at 190 calories.

Alcohol is another sneaky offender. A 3.5 oz. glass of wine contains 85 calories, while 1.5 oz. of hard liquor like gin and vodka contains nearly 100. And don’t forget juice; one cup can have 150 calories or more.

Barbecue Sauce

Going out for your favorite wings or a slab of ribs? Watch out for the sauce. One serving of the sweet, sticky stuff can have 30 to 60 calories. A serving is generally one ounce, or two tablespoons. A slab of ribs would likely be drenched in several tablespoons. And many people aren’t content with just the standard coating of sauce. They often add extra or dip their wings in ranch or bleu cheese dressing, which adds even more, often uncounted, calories.

Salad Dressing and Dip

When I worked in food service, I often saw customers purchasing salads because they wanted to “eat healthy.” Then they would ask for up to two extra packets of creamy salad dressing to drown out the taste of the vegetables. Little did they realize they were adding the fat and calorie content of a cheeseburger to their otherwise low-calorie meal. Creamy dressings like ranch, caesar, and bleu cheese are loaded with calories. Just one tablespoon, or one-half ounce, of Hidden Valley ranch dressing contains 70 calories and seven grams of fat. Most single-serving restaurant packets of salad dressing come in one- and two-ounce sizes. That’s as much as 280 calories per packet!

Vegetable and chip dip can often be just as high in calories. Ranch vegetable dip has 120 calories per one-ounce serving.

“Reduced-Fat” or “Low-Fat” Labeled Food

Beware: that “reduced-fat” cookie may have more calories per serving than its full-fat cousin. A standard practice among food manufacturers has been to use sugar, which is added calories, to improve the taste of food after removing the fat. While limiting fat intake is important, it won’t help dieters lose weight if they consume excess calories. The solution? Read and compare food labels. Sometimes choosing the full-fat option may be the best way to control overall caloric intake.


As any good cook knows, tasting food during the cooking process is essential in preparing tasty meals. Sometimes a bite of food from the pan reveals whether more spices are needed or if the pasta has reached ‘al dente.’ But a few too many tastings can quickly ratchet up the calories. For example, if each tablespoon of food contained 20 calories, five or six full-bite tastings would equal 100 calories. Calories can really climb when the food being sampled is high in sugar, like cookie dough or cake batter. People who frequently indulge in tasting during meal preparation can consume half a meal’s worth of calories or more before the family even sits down to dinner. And it’s unlikely those calories will be factored into the daily caloric limit.

Of course, this doesn’t mean dieters can’t enjoy an occasional taste from the pan, a cup of iced coffee, or a reduced-fat cookie. It just means dieters should be careful to note all the calories they are consuming and adjust their eating habits accordingly. Uncounted calories can add up quickly, leading to excess weight gain.

Categories: Diet, Weight Loss