The Dangers Of Hidden Calories And How To Protect Yourself
Hey guys and gals! Are you on a journey to losing weight and frustrated by slow results? While there is a plethora of reasons why you could be experiencing a set back we are going to talk about one of the most devious parts that may not even be on your radar, and that is hidden calories.
Hidden calories exist in every kind of food, and unfortunately because the laws concerning labels are lax to say the least, you truly never know what is going into the packaged food you eat, they are only ESTIMATES. If you can, the best bet is to cook all food yourself OR use a food prep service company that holds itself accountable for what they put in their food (after all they have an image to upkeep). Since this request isn't practical for most people, below is some of the most common food items that can completely throw your diet out of wack without you even knowing it.
Awe butter, it is delicious and usually a necessary ingredient for almost every recipe however, overusing it can lead to big trouble. On average a teaspoon of butter contains about 34 calories and ALL of that is from fat and there is no way just a teaspoon is enough (trust me I know). Now add in the fact that butter is present in almost every meal that you eat that can easily add up to another 100 calories in your diet that you don't need.
One GREAT exception to butter is roasted garlic, it has the same texture, its DELICIOUS, and only contains approximately 4 calories per clove. If your not a big fan of Garlic, then vegetable oil is another viable option that can be used which is much healthier. If you are looking for more creative substitutes, we also suggest apple sauce or ghee both of which can be used as a suitable substitute for butter. For ideas on how to use these substitutes, check out this article.
Hidden sugars are a danger that can be found in every type of food, they are simply empty calories and although delicious they do not have any place in your diet. Syrups, Dressings, Salad Toppings, Smoothies (even the “healthy ones”), Yogurt, Pasta Sauces; these are all sources of sugars that can potentially push you over the edge in terms of caloric intake. One option to avoid these items is to look for sugar free options but this is not always possible for some food.
You can also look for sugar alternatives, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. We personally love using cinnamon on items such as oatmeal and yogurt. Vanilla is also a great addition to certain foods in lieu of sugar. There are other sugar substitutes such as Stevia and Xylitol, that can be used however, a word of caution, not all of these substitutes are made equal nor are they all necessarily healthy. The different substitutes available are beyond the scope of this article but if you are interested, we suggest you take a look at this article.
Another danger is sugary drinks ESPECIALLY THE SELF PROCLAIMED HEALTHY ONES, Jamba Juice for example, advertises that their drinks are healthy, we beg to differ given the fact that they have in inordinate amount of sugar. Check out this article concerning a class action lawsuit concerning this.
Nuts & “Healthy Snacks”
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, but can be extremely calorie dense. Now we are not going to down on them to bad, they are a GREAT snack but the key is to ensure portion control is used. Nuts are a main ingredient in a lot of health bars and salads and while it seems sparse all of them can quickly add up putting your caloric intake off balance. If you are looking for the best nuts that you can eat and still lose weight, your best bet is going to be walnuts, cashews and almonds but you still must remember portion control, gorging on any nut will quickly lead to trouble for your diet.
Healthy snacks are also a potential danger as they can be chock full of hidden fat and sugars and as mentioned prior, their main ingredient is usually nuts which, while healthy, can quickly become a problem in regards to the amount of calories in each serving. When choosing a healthy snack it is imperative to check the label, although they are estimates it is easy to see if they are truly healthy or simply advertising the "good parts" of their product while hoping you won't read the rest of the nutrition facts (it happens more often than you think).
Salads are a great source of healthy calories, the lettuce itself is not the issue, it is the additions that are put into the salad that can cause trouble, the salad dressings and toppings can quickly turn a healthy food into a caloric (and fat) dense meal. If you are making your own salads, fruits are going to be your best friend. Most fruit (with the exception of grapes) are pack full of flavor and have little impact in terms of calories. Remember, nuts are OK as long as they are used sparingly, and NOT CANDIED.
Dressings is wear you have to be very careful, a low fat vinaigrette or just straight lemon is going to be your best option however if neither of those appeal to you than make sure you are diligent in measuring exactly how much dressing you are putting on the salad, failure to do so can quickly turn your salad into a fattening nightmare.
Hummus is delicious and comes in a variety of flavors, it is usually made with chickpeas, garlic, tahini and lemon juice. You will likely find it at many parties as it has become a very popular dip for chips and pita bread. Hummus, while tasty is also extremely caloric dense, one tbsp of hummus equals out to about 25 calories. With enough dips, that could easily equal out an extra 100-200 calories to your diet without you even knowing.
Protect your self from this potential hazard by being mindful of how much calories are in each serving and try to limit your intake to about 2-3 tbsp's.
Chia seeds are the latest super food craze and they are usually found in yogurt and healthy smoothies. They have a lot of omega-3 and fiber which helps with digestion and brain health. Unfortunately, they also have a lot of calories with one oz equaling a whopping 138 calories.
With all the health benefits that come with these seeds it is of little use to you if they throw your diet off track by increasing your caloric intake by over 100 calories! You can easily have your seeds and eat them too by limiting the intake, next time you enjoy a healthy shake ask them to add half the amount of Chia seeds then usual and you should be fine.
This by no means an exhaustive list of the foods that have hidden calories in them, there was a great paper written on this subject, we highly suggest you read it (click here), we have included an excerpt from this paper that lists some of the top foods with hidden calories and their substitutes.