Reducing Calories from Condiments for Weight Loss

When you’re trying to lose weight through dieting, every calorie counts. Weight loss experts like Dr. George Fielding often recommend keeping a food journal to track calorie intake. By monitoring your daily calories and aiming for a caloric deficit, your body will burn fat and you will lose weight. The 500 calorie deficit you need daily to lose weight is often achievable by making small changes to your diet. In previous articles, we described ways to reduce calories from beverages and foods. Here we take a closer look at condiments and other small additions that can add a lot more calories than you realize.

Hold the Mayo (and the Calories)

When you’re tracking calories, it’s important to monitor any additions or modifications to your food. In other words, you can’t just log that you ate a hotdog for lunch. In addition to the calories from the meat and bun, there were calories in everything you put on top of it. These are both tempting to exclude and easy to forget, but a schmear here and a dab there can close up that 500 calorie deficit without your noticing. Be mindful of serving sizes when using:

  • Ketchup. One tablespoon of ketchup contains about 20 calories and a whopping 3.7 grams of sugar. If you’re looking to cut calories, mustard alone is a better bet. It typically has less than half the calories of ketchup and no sugar.

  • Mayonnaise. Go light on the mayo, too. It has 100 calories per tablespoon, mostly from fat.

  • Salad dressing. If you can’t bear to eat salad plain, ask for the dressing on the side. That way you can control the portion size better. Salad dressings are usually loaded with oil and sugar.

  • Butter. We all know butter makes everything delicious, but use it sparingly. It also clocks in just over 100 calories per tablespoon.

  • Cream cheese. Many bagel shops slather on cream cheese, adding far more than just a schmear. At more than 50 calories per tablespoon, this can make an already high calorie bagel snack even worse for your daily totals.

  • Peanut butter. High-protein foods like peanut butter are potentially helpful for staving off hunger, but it’s important to measure them carefully. Peanut butter is approximately 100 calories per tablespoon, so a little goes a long way.

Dr. George Fielding, NYU Langone Medical Center

Begin Your Weight Loss Journey with Dr. George Fielding

If you are struggling with obesity or weight-related health issues, contact the NYU Langone Weight Management Program. Dr. George Fielding and colleagues can help with everything from dietary guidance to bariatric surgery. To schedule a full evaluation, please call 212-263-3166 or email