When youâ€™re trying to lose weight or eat healthier, â€˜0 calorieâ€™ and â€˜0 fatâ€™ claims are enticing. However, these claims may not be what they seem. For example, an 8 oz. container of spray butter that claims to have â€˜0 caloriesâ€™ and â€˜0 grams of fatâ€™ has nearly 860 calories and 91 grams of fat! How can this be, you ask? Letâ€™s take a close look at these two common nutrient content claims and see how the calories and fat can add up.
Behind the â€˜0 Calorieâ€™ Claim
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) allows a companyâ€™s food label to state that its product has 0 calories if it has less than 5 calories per serving. A bottle of popular spray butter for example, has 3.8 calories per serving (according to the manufacturer) and can therefore be marketed as having 0 calories. This means:
- 5 sprays (1 serving) = 3.8 calories
- 10 sprays (2 servings) = 7.6 calories
- 20 sprays (4 servings) = 15.2 calories
Just less than four calories per 5 sprays of butter might not seem like a lot; however it can add up. Iâ€™ve known more than one person to pour butter spray on their food instead of using just 5 sprays. â€œAfter all, it has 0 calories!â€ If you do the same, you will have poured 860 calories on your food by the time the 8 oz. container is empty!
[An 8 oz. bottle of butter spray has 226 servings. At four calories per serving, an 8 oz. bottle of butter spray will add up to 860 calories! (226 servings x 3.8 calories/serving = 858.8 calories!)]
Behind the â€˜0 Grams Fatâ€™ Claim
A company can also claim that a product has ‘0 grams of fat’ if the product has less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving. According to manufacturer, the bottle of butter spray discussed above has 0.4 grams of fat per serving (5 sprays). At 0.4 grams per serving, an 8 oz. bottle of butter spray will add up to 91 unexpected grams of fat! (Remember, there are 226 servings in an 8 oz. bottle.)
Learn the Facts
Nutrient content claims are defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and allow companies to round a small quantity of calories per serving to 0 calories, and a small amount of fat per serving to 0 grams. As youâ€™ve seen above, these (or any) â€˜0 calorieâ€™ or â€˜0 fatâ€™ claims can be quite misleading and should not be taken literally.
So think again before you pour the butter spray on your popcorn or veggies. Even Â¼ of a bottle of butter spray can add 215 calories and 22.6 grams of fat to your meal or snack. Look at an 8 oz. bottle of butter spray the next time you’re at the grocery store and see how easy it would be to use the entire bottle (or Â¼ of a bottle) on a bowl of popcorn.
Be smarter than these and other nutrient content claims and realize that most foods (other than water) have calories.
About the Author:
Stephanie is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach as well as the creator of FitnessforWeightLoss.com