Hive Health Media

Don’t Fall for ‘0 Calorie’ and ‘0 Fat’ Claims!

When you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier, ‘0 calorie’ and ‘0 fat’ 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 ‘0 calories’ and ‘0 grams of fat’ has nearly 860 calories and 91 grams of fat! How can this be, you ask? Let’s take a close look at these two common nutrient content claims and see how the calories and fat can add up.

Behind the ‘0 Calorie’ Claim

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) allows a company’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. I’ve known more than one person to pour butter spray on their food instead of using just 5 sprays. “After all, it has 0 calories!” 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 ‘0 Grams Fat’ 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 you’ve seen above, these (or any) ‘0 calorie’ or ‘0 fat’ 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 ¼ 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 ¼ 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

Stephanie is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Lifestyle & Weight Management Coach as well as the creator of FitnessforWeightLoss.com.

2 Comments

  1. Tyler

    February 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I would much rather my patients spray 3.8 kcals on a potato than a stick of butter

  2. jen

    February 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Totally agree! If you have about 3 meals a day, decide with each meal to have at least one “0 calorie” product; be it green tea, black coffee or fat-spray (all those have calories by the way) add it up over the day then multiply by 7 to get your weeks amount…not so unnoticeable now is it?

    Not that it’s usually in a *normal* diet enough to put on pounds, kilos or stones in weight over the week but firstly who is normal and secondly why ruin what could be an edge in your battle of the bulge?

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