This post has been updated since it was originally published on April 15, 2022.
If weight loss is your ultimate goal, experts say reevaluating and analyzing what you eat on a daily basis is an important step to take. In addition to frequent hydration, regular exercise, and a consistent sleep schedule, a well-balanced diet is crucial for healthy weight loss. We talked to health experts to find out more about 6 common condiments that could be adding extra calories without you realizing it, and what to replace them with. Read on for tips and advice from Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian, Lisa Richards, Registered Nutritionist, and Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT, Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer.
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Tomato Sauce With Added Sugar
The first condiment anyone looking to lose weight should avoid is ketchup with lots of sugar, says Best. While manufacturers have begun to offer no-sugar-added varieties of ketchup, most consumers continue to turn to traditional ketchup out of preference and habit, he notes. “Most ketchup brands provide 4 grams of added sugar in just one tablespoon of their product,” adds Best. “Knowing that several tablespoons of this seasoning are used in a typical meal makes this number even more alarming.” Too much added sugar in the diet will increase the number of calories consumed and, at the same time, increase the risk of chronic diseases, she stresses. “Gut health can start to take its toll, as a high-sugar diet promotes gut dysbiosis and imbalance of gut bacteria,” she continues. Considering there are alternatives to traditional ketchup, “it’s ideal to opt for those instead.”
high fat mayonnaise
This condiment, especially the traditional egg-based form, shouldn’t be considered healthy in any way, says Richards. Those made with healthy oils, like olive oil, can be a “great addition to a recipe or meal,” but should still be used sparingly, he suggests. Richards also points out that the saturated fat content and emulsifiers used in healthy varieties can damage many organs, especially the liver. “As the liver works to filter the excess fat and toxins we ingest, you can feel overwhelmed and stressed by high-fat condiments like mayonnaise,” he adds. Instead of opting for mayonnaise, Richards says, “It’s best to skip this condiment or choose a healthier alternative, like whole fresh avocados.” These, she says, are more easily processed by the body and the “fat found in them will be easier to digest and use for fuel.”
Creamy Ranch Dressing
Whether you use it on salads or dip chicken fillets, frequent amounts of ranch dressing and similar sauces aren’t your best friend when it comes to healthy weight loss. “A serving of ranch dressing will provide you with about 150 calories and 15 grams of fat,” says Feder. “This can really hinder your weight loss journey if you like to eat ranch dressing frequently.” Feder adds that “the best thing you can do” is choose a light or fat-free option if you want to have ranch and still lose weight.
Sweetened Barbecue Sauce
Sweet, tangy, and delicious, barbecue sauce may not seem unhealthy, as it’s often low in calories, but Feder points out that this condiment often comes with a ton of sugar. “A serving of barbecue sauce only has about 70 calories and no fat,” he says, yet most people “don’t realize” that it also contains about 16 grams of sugar in that serving. “This added sugar can really hinder weight loss and metabolism,” says Feder. “The best thing to do is look for sugar-free or reduced-sugar barbecue sauce,” she suggests, if you still want to have it in your diet.
high calorie honey mustard
Full-fat honey mustard can add hundreds of calories to a meal, Feder says, and this can certainly hamper your weight-loss goals if you consume it frequently. “Just one serving of regular honey mustard can contain between 100 and 180 calories,” she says. “In addition to being high in calories, it typically has 10-15g of fat, which is a lot for a single serving of condiment,” Feder continues. The best option, she concludes, is to look for “reduced-fat or fat-free honey mustard if you’re trying to lose weight.”
This is a condiment that you will always want to have in moderation due to its high amount of salt. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 tablespoon of shoyu soy sauce contains approximately 879 mg of sodium, while 1 tablespoon of tamari soy sauce contains 1,005 mg of sodium.