5 Ways you’re accidentally consuming calories


28th Jan 2022 Wellbeing

5 Ways you’re accidentally consuming calories

Was one of your Resolutions to cut down on excess calories? As you navigate your new diet, here are some pointers to help you along the way

As everyone’s hard at work following through with their New Year resolutions around weight loss, we highlight some areas where you may be accidentally gaining some extra calories, with the help of Tom Jenane, the nutrition and fitness expert for Nature’s Healthbox

Olive Oil


According to virtually every expert, the Mediterranean diet is the best of them all, and it is now even recommended on the NHS website.

However, extra virgin olive oil is the primary source of fat in this diet, being made up predominantly of monounsaturated fats.

While there are plenty of health benefits to olive oil, it is the quantity of calories in the oil that makes this a danger.

Many people pour olive oil all over their healthy salads, not realising a single tablespoon contains approximately 120 calories.

People also tend not to count the calories in the oil they’re cooking with when counting the calories in their meal, casually adding three tablespoons, which works out at around 360 calories.

One solution to this is to use olive oil sprays, with most providing one calorie per spray, meaning you can prevent yourself from adding too much.

Low-Fat Meals


When you see packaging on a ready meal or a snack stating “low fat”, this is normally added to highlight that they’ve lowered the fat content, and therefore are painting the image that this is healthy.

However, when they lower the fat content, they need to ensure it still tastes good, so they’ll often substitute the fat for sugar. The added sugar will spike your insulin and can lead to weight gain.

You should therefore check the nutritional info for the quantity of saturated fat, sugar and the overall calorie count, to work out if it fits into your daily allowance.



If you were to read a list of healthy foods, nuts would commonly appear on the list.

They can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, they’re packed full of unsaturated fat and also contain plenty of vitamins, iron and potassium.

But the issue is that these articles that cover nuts as a health ingredient don’t mention how many you should eat in a day as a portion. What can fit in the palm of your hand is often considered a portion of nuts, being 28 grams, or ten nuts on average.

As packs of nuts are often quite big, to make them economically viable, it can be easy to over-consume them. If you plan on eating nuts, we’d recommend counting them out and taking them with you, leaving the pack in the kitchen.



One of the biggest misconceptions with healthy eating seems to be around smoothies. While you can make yourself a healthy smoothie, you have to be wary when drinking smoothies available at supermarkets.

They will normally not use the skin, which contains the fibre, and is high in antioxidants. In fact, unpeeled fruits tend to have 33 per cent more fibre than ones without the peel.

Smoothies are commonly high in sugar which may be mainly fructose, but it’s still a form of sugar. Also, blending the fruits means that these naturally occurring sugars become “free sugars”, as the cell walls are broken.

With an average glass of smoothie containing around 30 grams of sugar, this will quickly use up your daily allowance.



Often, a healthy meal that has been prepared from scratch can be ruined by the application of condiments, jumping both the overall calorie count and the sugar levels significantly.

There is a reason why most premier league football teams ban ketchup and mayonnaise from the football canteens.

Even on salads, where ranch dressing is a common ingredient added to create some flavour, will often contain 129 calories in a 30ml serving size.

One great alternative can be some form of chilli sauce, which tend to be very low calorie and low in sugars.

If you are going to consume ketchup and mayonnaise, look for the healthier versions now available. Hellmann’s now produce a “lighter than light” mayonnaise, containing 11 calories in a tablespoon, compared to 90 calories in a normal serving.

Heinz produce a tomato ketchup with no added sugar and salt, making up 6.6 calories per serving.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter


This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...