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How Do They Affect Your Weight Loss Program?

Salad dressings and sauces are quite often ignored as far as their importance in a weight control diet. However, if used indiscriminately, these items are more than likely to bite back. This page contains several pointers intended to help you choose wisely.

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Salad Dressings:

Regardless of the type of salad dressing, always choose fat-free. The benefits for weight control are significant.

Caution: Light salad dressings usually contain more calories than fat-free dressings (sometimes by a significant amount), with no distinct taste advantage. To illustrate:

  • Fat-free salad dressing brings in 0 to 50 calories per 2 tablespoons (with vinaigrette dressings at the low end of this range, and creamy dressings like Ranch at the high end).
  • Light salad dressings bring in about 50 to 80 calories per 2 tablespoons.
  • Regular salad dressings bring in 100-150 calories per 2 tablespoons.

You can see that the difference in calories is significant. So, by choosing fat-free salad dressings, you ensure a calorie intake of up to 50 calories (usually 15-30 calories) per serving.

Salad Spritzers (from Wishbone), containing 10-15 calories per 10 spritzes, are a good way of maintaining portion control.

Sauces and Marinades:

For weight control purposes, these items should bring no more than 40-50 calories per serving (one tablespoon). Scouring the grocery shelves, I was pleasantly surprised to find a large selection of products which fell in this category. To name just a few:

  • Old Colony Steak Sauce (5 calories per tablespoon)
  • A1 Steak Sauce (15 calories per tablespoon)
  • A1 Marinade (32 calories per tablespoon)
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup (15 calories per tablespoon)

All the above products are fat-free and a have very reasonable sugar content (below 4 grams per serving). I would recommend avoiding marinades such as Ragu and especially Prego – they are simply too caloric for effective weight control. Moreover, they bring in saturated fats and a rather high amount of sugars.

A low calorie item that caught my eye in the grocery store was mustard. It turns out that even Honey Mustard or Dijon brings only 10-15 calories per tablespoon. So therefore, if you like mustard, use it!


In my opinion, this is a diet killer, especially the mayonnaise offered in restaurants and fast food places. At 90-110 calories per tablespoon, regular Mayonnaise is a highly caloric item. Mayonnaise is made from oil and egg yolks, therefore it's almost all fat. True, a large part of this fat may be unsaturated, and some Mayonnaise brands even claim it's a good source of omega3 fatty acids.
However: The amount of omegad3 in one serving of Mayonnaise is about 1/4 that in one serving of walnuts (to compare with a good source of omega3). And, the high calorie content of regular Mayonnaise doesn't justify its use in a weight loss diet. If need be, light Mayonnaise (such as Hellmann's Canola Mayonnaise - 45 calories per tablespoon and 0 saturated fats) is acceptable for weight control purposes. Fat-Free Mayonnaise (15-20 calories per tablespoon) is theoretically available, although I did not find it on the shelf of my grocery store. Needless to say, if you are a Mayo fan, this is the way to go.


This is another great product that caught my eye while researching grocery foods. Pickles are quite low in calories (especially the ones with no added sugar), have zero fat content and are reasonably filling. In other words, a perfect item for weight control.

  • Unsweetened Pickles bring in 0 to 10 calories per oz, and about 1 gram of sugar.
  • Sweetened pickles bring in 30-45 calories per oz, with 6-9 grams of sugar. (As you can see, even these are acceptable for weight control.)
  • Vinegar brings in zero calories - so it doesn't change the calorie content of food when used for cooking.
  • Cooking wines are largely based on vinegar and therefore have a reasonable calorie content, about 20 calories per 2 tablespoons.

Note: All calorie counts are approximate.

Return from "Salad Dressings, Sauces & al" to "Grocery Food Facts"








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