Hidden Calories, Part 1

Hidden Calories

Hidden calories…

One of the things that can derail us without us even knowing.

This is the first part of our series on how to root out and remove hidden calories from your diet.

With tracking and weighing our food day to day we can oftentimes become lax with our efforts and dismiss things that we would otherwise deem insignificant. 

One example I use with my clients often is the mint/candy jar that’s found on almost anyone’s office desk. Over the course of the day a person might grab 3-4 mints and never even consider the calorie content. Using a generic brand’s nutrition information, 3 peppermints add up to 80 calories per day, or 560 calories per week. Taking a step back, we see that this is the equivalent of a Big Mac, which no longer seems dismissive. 

So why would we go through the efforts of planning our day out, weighing whatever food we have planned, just to sweep the equated amount of a quick fast food run under the rug?

One source of hidden calories that most of my clients use daily, if not multiple times a day, is cooking sprays/mists.

The reason why it’s considered “hidden” is that the label lists it as having 0 calories. The one caveat being that it’s for a 1/4-1/3 of a second spray.

Who do you know in this world that uses only a 1/3 of a second spray? No one that I know of, including myself. If you look closely, the first ingredient listed is oil or butter, depending on which product you purchase.

This essentially means you’re using the base ingredient much the same as if you used the regular form. 

So, why is a company able to list an item as having 0 calories when it obviously doesn’t? This is due to a loophole that the FDA allows with nutritional values. If an item has less than 5 calories per serving, then a company can list it as having 0.

The serving size for a 1/4 second spray is labeled as being .25 grams. A gram of fat has 9 calories, 1/4 of this would be ~2.25 calories, therefore meeting the above stipulation. 

So the next question is: How do we quantify the amount of cooking sprays we use? Well, we wouldn’t pull out our stopwatch to time how long we’re using it fortunately. We’ll weigh what we use, the same way we would account for the majority of our other food items. 

1. Remove the lid of your spray can/bottle, and place the bottle on the scale.

2. Zero/tare the scale.

3. Spray what item(s) you normally would.

4. Place the can back in the scale.

At this point, if you’ve used enough, you’ll likely read a negative number. That number is the number of grams of fat you sprayed. 

Now, you don’t need to do this every time you cook, as most of us tend to utilize a similar spraying pattern or amount each time we use cooking sprays. Run through the above steps a few times then average out your number and plug in to your MM+ app. 

For some of us this will seem minor,  but the theme of this series will be what we consider to be dismissive can add up, and I’ve had clients use upwards of 300 calories per day from cooking sprays


  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.60