To know if you need to read this post, answer this question:
You are preparing a salad, you cut your tomatoes, your cucumbers, your ... I have no idea what else do you put in a salad... anyway, then you add generously olive oil or dressing.
In tracking your calories do you put only the salad or also the dressing?
If your answer was: "I put everything in MyFitnessPal, Alex, of course!".
I love you. Skip this post and let's get married. (only if you are a chick, no hard feeling guys but I'm straight).
If you answered: "Why should have I put in the dressing, that's just the dressing", consider yourself slapped in the face and read this post.
Enter "The Invisible Calories Monster".
This is a spooky monster. Fat and sly, right there in every meal ready to sabotage your fat loss goal. This monster doesn't want you to lose weight. It wants you fat.
This monster has supernatural properties of the finest kind.
It's a shapeshifter for once.
It turns into the most delicious forms but tends to pass unnoticed. That's its thing. It doesn't want you to notice it, it just wants you to take it in (totally not pun intended) and get fat. The bastard.
Where Does The Bastard Hide?
To help you reveal The Invisible Calories Monster, I'll give you here a breakdown of the most insidious places where this little fucker likes to hide making you eating more than you think and not helping you losing fat.
Maybe you are not aware of it but you can dramatically ingurgitate even 1000 kcal in a night without even realizing it.
Alcoholic drinks in fact, not only have carbs (although not all of them) but also have alcohol (duh) which has 7 kcal/g!
Furthermore, these are calories in liquid form, so, freaking easy to consume!
Let's see some shocking numbers:
- Small glass of wine (175 mL): 130 kcal
- Lager 5% (pint): 215 kcal
- Gin or vodka and tonic: 126 kcal
- Alcopop (275 mL): 171 kcal
- If you really can't avoid drinking for one night, limit you to very basic alcohol (tequila, rum, vodka, gin, whiskey) with no added components.
- Have a glass of water for every sip of alcohol (this will fill you up).
- If peer pressure imposes you to drink, just get one and sip it very very slowly and minimally. Nobody will think at the end of the night you still are at your first glass.
Coffee per se has virtually close to 0 calories.
But having a plain old fashion cup of Joe is indeed old fashion.
We must supplement it with the latest bullshit to give us special powers.
So go ahead and pour in your coffee some butter and coconut oil.
It will indeed "only" add 441 kcal.
Just know though that, in this case, you're not having a coffee. You're having a meal.
Other things you can add to your coffee that contains invisible calories: sugar, cream, milk, flavoring.
If you think "please, my grandpa drinks plain coffee" then you can add sweetener as erythritol, stevia, sucralose.
Walden Farms has 0 calories coffee creamers which I would definitely recommend if you can't drink your coffee plain.
Imagine you are eating 1 orange. It has a certain amount of calories but not much juice.
Now imagine you want to drink some orange juice. To make a glass of it, you need maybe 3 oranges. Well done, you just multiplied by 3 the amount of calories that you'd get from 1 orange!
Fruit juices not only provide way more calories than single fruits but present also a couple of important disadvantages:
- Reduced fiber content which will make you hungry faster and more brutally (which is definitely something that you want to avoid since you are cutting/dieting already).
- Usually, they contain added sugar severely increasing the amount of calories.
- Avoid juices as much as possible.
- If you can't, try to include the pulp of the fruit in the final product. It's not that gross.
- Use as few fruits as possible and dilute the juice with cold sparkling water to get a "soda effect".
- Throw in a couple of ice cubes too to add more volume.
- Use sweetener as stevia, sucralose, erythritol instead of sugar for taste.
I find this pretty funny. They create a fat-free version of a delicious product (for instance yogurt) to attract the people who are dieting.
And still, they pack this stuff with tons of sugar to keep the product tasty and with some flavor. Making you showing down 200 kcal while thinking that you are eating low calories products.
Or they have in the same package some "dressing" like jam or cereals.
Those are invisible calories! Stay away from them!
Carefully read the label and use 0 calories sweeteners as stevia, sucralose or erythritol for extra flavor.
Also, check the calorie-free sauces from Walden Farms as the pancake syrup.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are healthy af, you say. There cannot be anything wrong with them, you say.
They are the most insidious form of The Invisible Calories monster. Nuts are packed with calories! And they are small so you wanna eat a lot of them. A total recipe for disaster.
Let's see how many calories are in a cup (80g of nuts):
- Cashews: 442 kcal
- Pistachio: 445 kcal
- Peanuts: 454 kcal
- Almonds: 460 kcal
- Hazelnuts: 502 kcal
- Walnuts: 523 kcal
- Brazil nuts: 525 kcal
- Pine nuts: 538 kcal
- Pecans: 553 kcal
- Macadamia: 574 kcal
Seeds are also very insidious as they contain really a lot of calories, check this list:
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds: 285 kcal
- 100 g chia seeds: 486 kcal
- 100 g hemp seeds: 592 kcal
- 1 cup sunflower seeds: 818 kcal
- 1 cup sesame seeds: 825 kcal
- 1 cup flaxseed: 897 kcal
Read these numbers twice to definitely remember them next time you think nuts won't change much in terms of how many calories you are eating.
On a diet, I would avoid nuts altogether. If you wanna include them, eat as little as possible and put the bag away out of your sight. And avoid completely the roasted ones, they even have more calories!
Sauces, Condiments, And Dressings
Beware of these, they can transform a low-calorie meal as a salad in a McDonald's equivalent.
Loaded with sugars or oils, sauces and condiments can quickly and badly increase the number of calories you're eating.
1 tablespoon of honey mustard has 139 kcal!
Or take mayo, 100 kcal in 1 tablespoon!
You see how easy it is to go overboard with these ones.
- Avoid them altogether on a diet.
- Substitute with apple vinegar, plain vinegar, soy sauce, Sriracha sauce, Tabasco sauces, herbs and spices, salt and pepper.
- When eating out, always ask for the condiments to be on the side.
- Try replacing them low-fat yogurt or low-fat sour cream.
- Walden Farms has a choice of several sauces and condiments calorie-free that you can try, like their salad dressings.
As much as I love olive oil, this, like all the oils, has really a lot of calories.
Oils are a form of fat and since fat has the highest amount of calories per gram among the macronutrients, you can understand how 1 tablespoon of olive oil has 120 kcal.
The same goes for all the oils you are using for cooking: coconut oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, peanuts oil, etc.
Carefully watch the amount of oil you're using. Ideally, you should measure it with measuring spoons and cups to know the exact amount you are using.
Fresh and Dried Fruits
Here we also see how a healthy food isn't necessarily low-calories.
The most caloric fruits:
- 1 banana: 105 kcal
- 1 mango: 201 kcal
- 1 cup sliced avocado: 234 kcal
- 1 cup figs: 279 kcal
- 1 cup shredded coconut: 283 kcal
- 1 cup dates: 414 kcal
Dried fruit is a concentrated version of fruit which means that it'll have more calories in a smaller volume.
The most caloric dried fruit:
- 1 cup dried apricots: 314 kcal
- 1 cup dried figs: 380 kcal
- 1 cup pitted prunes: 418 kcal
- 1 cup not packed raisins: 434 kcal
What a shocker right? They look so harmless (and delicious!).
That's how The Invisible Calories Monster rolls!
- On a diet avoid dried fruits altogether.
- Substitute high calories fruit with berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) and vegetables.
Healthy (?) Cereals
You know those bags of granola or those mixes of cereals with dried fruit, coconut and stuff. By now you should know how many hidden calories are in there.
Furthermore, sugars are usually added to these to make them taste freakin' delicious.
Watch out for the labels on breakfast bars, snacks, and ready-to-eat cereals.
How To Expose The Invisible Calories Monster
The Invisible Calories Monster goes undisturbed in its businesses because you never pay attention to it.
You never stare it into its eyes. If you'd do so, you'd realize it is there and you'd avoid it!
For every single food item you are putting in your mouth ask yourself:
"what am I actually eating? what's inside this?"
Sure, it's gonna be annoying at first but soon enough you'll learn to automagically recognize the invisible calories and avoid them.
Also, and this should go without saying, check the nutrition label of what you're eating!
Most of the time, the fact that something is healthy, it doesn't necessarily mean it is low calories! Think of the low-fat yogurt or olive oil or dried fruits.
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Let me know in the comments: which food did you think had low calories but you surprisingly realized it was a huge fattening-bomb?
Are you ready to take action and become superhuman?
P.S. If you want to be coached by me and you are badass, committed