Hidden Calories and How to Find Them

Through many years of evolution, the foods available to us in supermarkets and online have become vast, varied and creative.

Nowadays, the terms ‘low carb’, ‘zero carb’, ‘low fat’ and ‘low calories’ are all too common, but are they truly what they seem?

The inclusion of sugars in many foods we consume weekly are often not included in the total carbohydrate count, thus misleading the consumer in believing they are eating less carbs and less calories than what is in the product.

Chances are these products have been chemically modified with sugar or something similar too still provide a sweetened taste and flavour, yet because the sugar doesn’t necessarily have to be declared on the nutritional panel as a carbohydrate, the product still meets the profile of a low sugar item.

Sugar Free Examples

Examples of this are far and wide; however, common ones that everyone may be aware of include:

  • Jelly Lite

  • Sugar Free Maple Syrup

  • Sugar Free Hot Chocolate

  • Low Carb protein bars

  • Low Carb beers

  • Protein Ice Cream

Let’s face it, there is honestly no such thing as zero carbs (except for water).

How to identify these hidden calories

Everything we eat has calories in it.

So, the sugar in question obviously contains calories. So how do you identify it if in fact it does contain these hidden calories?

Firstly, refer to the list of ingredients to see if there are products listed such as Xylitol, Dextrose, erythritol, sorbitol, maltitol or something you don’t recognise. These would most likely be sugars and still contain calories that are not declared on the nutritional panel of these products.

However, if you are still unsure, you can work it out. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Total carbohydrates x 4 = Calories

  2. Total protein x 4 = Calories

  3. Total Fats x 9 = Calories

Total up these three calorie totals and compare it to the total calories identified on the nutritional panel. If the two don’t match, or more specifically, if the number you calculated is less than the one on the panel, then there are some calories missing due to the un-included sugars.

Unfortunately, this is the new landscape we are facing with hidden calories in many packet products we now commonly buy, particularly health related products. The sooner we get education across to those that need it, the more we can decrease confusion and allow individuals to make better food choices.

Don’t overindulge on products such as these that clearly contain many chemicals that are not designed to be consistently consumed by the human body.

Always look for real food options:

  • Greek Yogurt for Diet Jelly.

  • Honey for Sugar Free Maple Syrup.

  • Chocolate Protein powder for Sugar Free Hot Chocolate.

Alternatively, as detailed above, learn about these sugars and what is not being declared, and make the appropriate calculations to allow for all calories.

However, there are always plenty of options from an organic, whole food perspective. So why not look to real food options over chemicals?