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Constantly watching your eating habits but not losing weight? You might be consuming more calories than you realize through ‘hidden calories. Or more accurately, hidden to you! Even for those who count calories as a habit, it can be easy to underestimate what you’re actually putting into your body. Unfortunately, if you’re not creating a calorie deficit (which can be as small as 200 calories), you won’t be able to lose weight.

These ‘hidden’ calories are the kind that we eat or drink without knowing. Plenty of people fall into their trap, and it can be as simple as being aware which helps you finally tip the scales in your favor.

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Five ways you might be consuming hidden calories

If you’re counting calories, you’re probably interested in losing weight. But sometimes it seems like the numbers just aren’t adding up. Consistently hitting your target but not losing weight? Hidden calories might be to blame.

Here are a couple of pointers which might explain why those last few pounds are being so stubborn, and which may help you bridge the gap between maintenance and weight loss calories.

1. Not accounting for calories in milk, sugar, and oil

There are some basics which we tend to use every day: milk and sugar in our coffee, cooking oil at dinner, and even margarine on toast. When we don’t account for these little extras, they can add up quite quickly.

If you drink three cups of coffee a day with fat free milk and one sugar and use a teaspoon of cooking oil for your roast vegetables, you’re looking at about 100 extra calories per day. It isn’t a lot, but if you’re working on a small deficit, it could be enough to stall your progress without you realizing.

If there are things you regularly eat or drink and don’t work into your calorie allowance, consider adding them at the start of your day when you’re working out your meals.

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2. Snacking or tasting food

If you’re the type to taste sauces as you cook, sample your kids’ food before you serve it, have a bite of your partner’s burger or steal a handful of their fries at dinner, you  might be consuming more than you realize.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above – as long as your partner doesn’t mind you stealing the fries!. But it should be factored in when you’re considering why you aren’t losing weight. Little snacks or bites of food might not be filling or feel like they’ve formed part of your fuel for the day, but they do add up.

3. Not counting liquid calories

Aaah, good old liquid calories. It seems unfair that something with so little volume could be contributing to weight gain or lack of weight loss progress. Sadly though, calories still count even when they’re in drinkable form. The usual culprits are things like that Friday night glass of wine or the daily full fat cappuccino you love. But they aren’t the only culprits.

Remember to consider things like your orange juice at breakfast, the energy drink after a workout, or the hot chocolate you share with the kids as an after-school treat. If this sounds like you, losing weight could be as easy as opting to stick to lower calorie options. Like water and coffee or tea with skim milk, for instance.

Man drinking class of orange juice against blue background - juice has many hidden calories

4. Not knowing how to track calories when eating out

It’s easy to track calories at home. You can weigh your ingredients and you know exactly what’s gone into your meals. Plus, you can always check the packet if you’re eating readymade or convenience food.

When you’re eating out though, it becomes harder. Who knows how much oil your vegetables were cooked in? Or whether the BBQ sauce has a teaspoon or tablespoon of sugar in it? And exactly what cut of beef has gone into that curry?

Although it’s not an exact science, try to track meals outside of your home as accurately as possible. Instead of thinking of it as ‘a cheeseburger of unknown calories’ think of it as a patty, a standard bun, and a slice of cheese. Breaking your meals down into easier elements to count the calories can help. As can learning how to build a healthy plate in any situation.

Plus, assume that most things are cooked in oil if you aren’t sure!

5. Overindulging in healthy but high calorie foods

We love avocado as much as the next person. And cashew nuts too. Mmm, and olives. There’s also no doubting they can form part of a healthy diet. After all, they’re packed with nutrients and good fats. But though these types of foods are healthy options, they are still fairly high in calories.

If you’re grabbing a handful of nuts and seeds as a snack, piling avo and olives into your salads, eating plenty of scrambled eggs and cooking with a heavy hand on the olive oil, it could explain why you’re struggling to shift the pounds. When you’re trying to lose weight, even calories from healthier options need to be considered.

Woman biting into piece of avocado toast

Scale not budging?

If you’ve been watching your eating habits and still not seeing the scale budge, you might be consuming more calories than you realize. If you’re experiencing weight loss plateaus, consider if any of these factors could be at play.

By paying attention to these small details and making adjustments where necessary, you may be able to bridge the gap between maintenance and weight loss calories. And see progress in your weight loss journey, too!

Want to track everything accurately? Unlock detailed nutrition info, health scores, and calorie counts for any recipe you save to Whisk – whether you build it yourself or import it from your favorite site. Download the app or sign up on web now for free.