Foods with hidden calories - Women's Running Magazine

Foods with hidden calories

Read Time:   |  February 9, 2018

peanut butter

If you took up running to lose weight, then you may be shocked to hear that even foods we consider healthy can be high in calories, leading to unexpected weight gain. Recently, a group of nutritionists warned that basic calorie labelling is misleading, meaning that many people are eating more calories than they think. “There is a lot of misinformation around calories, and it is crucial for the consumer, whether they are on a diet or not, to have the correct information about what they eat,” says Professor Richard Wrangham, of Harvard University. He says the public was being given “erroneous information about the energy value of many foods.” And that’s presuming people read the detailed nutrition information, which most of us don’t have the time to do. Then there are the issues of food additives, portion sizes, hidden sugars and basic, natural presumptions (fruit’s good, right? Yes, but…) and you end up with a food minefield. Read on and let us
take you safely through it…

1. Olive oil

Olive oil can help reduce bad cholesterol and improve your immune system, but pouring it over every salad and adding it to every dish is a bad idea, as each tablespoon contains 119 calories. So just four tablespoons of olive oil adds up to almost a quarter of a women’s recommended daily calorie consumption. Go easy.

2. Fruit juices

Would you eat three oranges in one go? Probably not, but a 250ml glass of 100% orange juice, made from the juice of those three oranges, contains around 110 calories.

3. Dried food

When you take the fluid out of food to produce dried fruit, you increase its calorie content. Avoid eating heaps of dried fruit, as it is very easy to consume an excessive amount of calories in just one snack.

4. Nuts

They’re healthy – a great source of protein and plant oils – but they are very calorific. Limit yourself to one or two tablespoons at a time, to ensure you stay within your recommended daily allowance.

5. Spreads

Nutella and peanut butter are marketed as healthy and although they contain high levels of protein, they also contain more calories than jam. One teaspoon (10g) of peanut butter
contains 62 calories.

6. Bananas

Bananas pack a huge nutritional punch, but one medium banana contains 100 calories – the equivalent of a ten-minute run.

7. Yogurts

You might be surprised to see yogurt on the list, but with the large variety available on supermarket shelves you need to take care when choosing one. A small pot of yogurt can contain up to 250 calories.

8. Breakfast cereals

Despite all the campaigns to make breakfast cereals healthy, they still contain a lot of calories. The recommended portion size is 30g, which contains 110 calories. By increasing your portion size to 50g, you increase your calorie intake by 75 calories per portion.

9. Smoothies

As with juices, it’s very easy to increase your calorie intake with smoothies. By combining milk, fruit, vegetables and protein powders in your favourite blend, you can easily hit 400 calories.
If you use a smoothie as a meal replacement you will be fine, but as a snack the calorie content will be too high.

10. Salad dressings

Some salad dressings can increase the calories of a healthy meal to more than that contained in a hamburger with chips – very annoying if you’re trying to be healthy. Three teaspoons of salad dressing contain 50 to 85 calories and there are more than three teaspoons in the pots of salad dressing that come with supermarket salads. Be careful when choosing your
dressing and use sparingly.

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

Meet the team

We use cookies to give you a better experience on By continuing to use our site, you are agreeing to the use of cookies as set in our Cookie Policy.

OK, got it