Allow me to make this very clear: cooking sprays are a great alternative to using butter or oil if you want to save calories. But, they’re not actually calorie free.

It’s easy to get confused here. The label says 0 calories, but you know that oil contains calories, so how in the world is this spray zero calories?

The FDA makes the rules, and they say that if a serving contains under 5 calories, you can round down to 0 on the label. In this case, a serving has roughly 2 calories, so they display 0.

Problem is, a serving size is assuming you’re spraying for 1/4 seconds. I think it’s physically impossible to pull that off unless you’re a witch.

Assuming you spray for about 4 seconds (which is pretty long), that is still only about 30 calories, so there’s still no need to sweat it.

I never count cooking spray in my macros, because 20-30 extra calories is not enough to worry about in my eyes. If you want to be super strict and be as accurate as possible, you can certainly estimate these calories, but I truly don’t think it’s worth it.

If an extra 20 calories stresses you out, you need to stick around and read my posts so I can help ya repair your relationship with food! I just want to help educate you here, not scare you.

I have plenty of posts on the topic of stress related to food, and why you shouldn’t stress over your calories being higher or lower some days, but let me break it down for you very quickly here.

Let’s say your cooking spray adds 30 calories to your meal. You thought it was 0, so now you’re stressed that you missed those extra 30 calories.

First and foremost, 30 calories are not going to be the difference of hitting your goals or not- I promise. Second, I like to put it into perspective this way:

Do you get stressed out if you get less steps in one day? Probably not.

30 calories can be the difference of going grocery shopping and getting extra steps in. That small amount of calories burned or consumed is going to even itself out over time- it’s not worth stressing about!

In my condiment calorie guide, I mentioned how mustard contains 36 calories per 2oz serving, which I know throws a lot of people off. That’s only because a serving contains roughly 3 calories, so the label rounds down to 0. You can consider is calorie free since the calories are so low, but it’s not actually free from calories. If you’re adding mustard to a sandwich, you’re probably only adding about 12 calories or so anyway.

Regardless, rest assured that a label showing 0 calories means that the caloric impact is still very minimal, even if it’s not exactly 0.

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