I think “condiments” has to be up there with “moist” or “curd” on my list of least favorite words to say out loud. Nevertheless, we are going to talk about condiments today as something that gets overlooked way too often when it comes to peoples’ diets. For one, it makes food taste so much better and can even turn the blandest of chicken breast into your favorite go-to meal. On the flip side, making the wrong choices in the wrong amounts can really put you behind the eight ball for your diet progress.

As we know, your net energy balance is going to determine if you lose or gain weight. Simply, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight, and if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. This is an important reminder because people often overlook and underestimate exactly how calorically dense many of the condiments we are putting on our food are.

Consider this hypothetical situation: a person who is currently eating 2,000 calories a day to maintain their weight is eating 4 meals a day. That means they have an average of 500 calories per each meal in order to reach their goal. If you had the suggested 2 tablespoon serving of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce, you are already having 70 of those calories just from the sauce that you are dipping into! Not only is that going to make keeping your caloric budget in check extremely difficult, but those portions are even pretty unrealistic for what I know most people do.
I for one, as an extremist, used to dump mounds of ketchup on my plate whenever I was having my daily chicken tenders and french fries. And that plate was clean afterwards too, it probably didn’t even need to go back in the dishwasher.

It’s not crazy to assume people are most likely using 2-3x of the amount on the nutrition label and if that’s the case for the above mentioned bbq sauce, you are wasting 5-10% of your daily calories on something that’s just supposed to modify the taste, not fill you up!

So while, bbq sauce is delicious and should be enjoyed, for your current situation, it might not be the most appropriate choice and it might be better to limit it or swap for another less calorically dense condiment.

Here are some of the most popular condiment options with their nutrition and some notes. As a note, some of them are dips/sauces/toppings/whatever and maybe aren’t condiments, but let’s not get caught up in semantics, guy who isn’t very fun at parties:

Ketchup (Heinz)

Serving: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 17 calories
Notes: This is one of the more flavorful and lower calorie options out of the classics (ketchup, bbq, and mustard). It has a decent amount of sodium (5% of recommended daily value) which is typical of condiments, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you’ve had plenty of potassium, are hydrated, and don’t have an unhealthy amount of body fat or hypertension. 1 tablespoon, however, is not realistic to me. I’m at least using 3-4 for any chicken, fries, etc.

BBQ Sauce (Masterpiece)

Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 60 calories
Notes: I used Masterpiece’s as an example. BBQ sauce ranges where the more southern, watery type bbq sauces usually only run you around 35. A ton of flavor but are usually filled with added sugars and sodium. Again, in moderation, totally fine, but probably not the best option out there.

Hot Sauce (Frank’s)

Serving: 1 teaspoon
Calories: 0 calories
Notes: Yes, you read that right. 0 calories for hot sauce. It’s my go to diet option when i’m trying to lose weight.


Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 10 calories
Notes: Another great option for dieting. I personally like using it on any shredded meal options.


Serving: ⅓ cup
Calories: 100 calories
Notes: Not a great weight loss option, but hummus does have some nice benefits. It has 4g of fiber and 5g of protein.


Serving: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 3 calories
Notes: Mustard has extremely low calories and actually has a really low sodium count at just 55mg. I think it would be a great option if it didn’t taste so disgusting (my personal opinion, not law)


Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 70 calories
Notes: Lol. I mean come on now guys. Enjoy this in moderation, but if you try to convince yourself that eating mounds of queso is a solid option for your health, we need an intervention. And if you have the self discipline to eat 2 tablespoons of queso at a time, I bow down to you.


Serving: 1 tablespoon
Calories: 94 calories
Notes: Probably the worst option as far as condiments go. That’s very dense for what you are getting out of it. It’s very high in fat with basically no other nutritional benefits.

Cool Whip

Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 25 calories
Notes: I think cool whip is awesome to use on fruit as sort of a de facto dessert when you’re getting a sweet craving.


Serving: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 50 calories
Notes: This is a complicated one. Not the best in terms of calories, but has a solid amount of vitamins A,C, and K as well as some healthy fats. Not bad too include, just watch going too hard in the chips and guac!

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