Do you love hot sauce but worry it may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts? Hot sauce can be confusing when you’re watching calories. The good news is, hot sauce can be a slimming condiment if chosen wisely.
Hot sauce contains nearly zero calories or carbs. The minimal calories come from the vinegars, peppers, and added vegetables or sweeteners. A tablespoon of a simple pepper-and-vinegar hot sauce has 0-5 calories. More complex recipes with extras like tomatoes or sugar can have up to 20 calories.
The key is checking the label. Avoid hot sauces with preservatives, stabilizers, and artificial colors. These signal overly processed, high-calorie options. Instead, choose ones with just real, recognizable ingredients like peppers, garlic, and vinegar. A tasty hot sauce adds lots of flavor for barely any calories, so you can lose weight without sacrificing taste.
This article will explain exactly how hot sauce can be low in calories, while still packing a flavorful punch. You’ll learn how to select the best hot sauces for weight loss goals, and get recipe ideas for spicing up meals. Read on to master hot sauce, without the calories derailing your progress!
Hot Sauce Nutrition Facts
Hot sauce nutrition varies based on the ingredients, but most are low in calories and carbs. Here are the main nutrition facts:
- Calories: 0-20 calories per tablespoon
- Fat: 0g
- Carbs: 0-3g per tablespoon
- Protein: 0g
So what gives hot sauce its calories and carbs? Mainly the additional vegetables, fruits, sweeteners or thickeners added to the peppers and vinegar base.
Hot Sauce Ingredient Variations
Hot sauce recipes vary greatly, leading to calorie differences:
- Ingredients: Peppers, vinegar, salt, garlic
- Calories: 0-5 calories per tablespoon
Examples: Tabasco, Cholula, Louisiana-style
These simple hot sauces get their heat from peppers and tang from vinegar. With minimal ingredients, the calorie count is negligible.
- Ingredients: Peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, vinegar
- Calories: 5-15 calories per tablespoon
Examples: Many salsa-style hot sauces
The extra vegetables add some calories, carbs, and thickness to the texture. But these sauces are still a fairly low-calorie choice.
- Ingredients: Peppers, pineapple, mangos, oranges, vinegar
- Calories: 10-20 calories per tablespoon
Examples: Habanero mango, pineapple habanero
The added fruit bumps up calories and carbs slightly, but adds sweetness. These tropical hot sauces are a moderate-calorie choice.
- Ingredients: Peppers, sugar, honey, maple syrup, vinegar
- Calories: 15-40 calories per tablespoon
Examples: Sweet chili sauce, hot honey
Added sugars like cane sugar, honey, and maple syrup increase the calorie count. Check labels and limit sweetened sauces.
Choosing Low-Calorie Hot Sauces
When shopping, read labels and watch for these red flags:
✘ Excessive added sugars
✘ Fillers like corn starch, wheat flour, modified food starch
✘ Artificial colors
✘ Words like “syrup” or “sweet”
Instead, choose hot sauces with:
✔ Short, simple ingredient lists
✔ Real, recognizable ingredients like peppers, vinegar, garlic, vegetables
✔ 0-20 calories per serving
✔ Low or no added sugars
Using Hot Sauce for Weight Loss
So how can hot sauce help you lose weight? Here are some slimming strategies:
The capsaicin in peppers may give your metabolism a slight boost. Studies show it can increase calorie burn by up to 50 calories per day. The effect is temporary, but take advantage after meals by going for a walk.
Spicy foods may curb appetite and cravings. The heat could kick hunger to the curb, helping you eat less at meals.
Add Flavor Without Calories
Skip high-calorie condiments like ketchup, mayo, and creamy salad dressings. Swap in hot sauce to add lots of flavor for barely any calories.
Spice Up Veggies and Lean Proteins
Rather than relying on fatty, sugary sauces for flavor, use hot sauce on healthy foods. It makes a great low-cal “dressing” for proteins and roasted veggies.
Avoid Boredom Eating
Boredom and bland foods lead to overeating. Adding spicy heat makes healthy meals more exciting, which could prevent mindless snacking later.
Low-Calorie Hot Sauce Recipe Ideas
Ready to put hot sauce to work for weight loss? Here are slimming recipe ideas:
- Add hot sauce to egg white omelets and scrambles
- Drizzle on top of avocado toast
- Mix into plain Greek yogurt with spices for a dip
- Top salads with vinegary hot sauce instead of creamy dressing
- Add to bean, veggie and rice bowls
- Use as sandwich spread instead of mayo
- Toss with grilled chicken, fish, shrimp or tofu
- Mix into ground turkey for spicy tacos or burgers
- Roast cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts with oil and hot sauce
- Spice up popcorn, roasted chickpeas or nuts
- Dip raw veggies in Greek yogurt mixed with hot sauce
- Dress up cottage cheese with hot sauce and black pepper
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about hot sauce and calories? Here are answers to some common FAQs:
Q: Are hot sauces with 0 calories really 0 calories?
A: Most hot sauces that list 0 calories per serving actually have between 0-5 calories per tablespoon. The FDA allows labels to list 0 calories if a serving contains less than 5 calories. So while a hot sauce may say 0 calories, it likely has a small amount.
Q: Do more scoville units = more calories?
A: Not necessarily. The scoville scale measures the pungency or “heat” level of peppers, not calories. Some very hot peppers like habaneros are still low calorie. What matters most is the other added ingredients, not the scoville units.
Q: Are organic hot sauces lower in calories?
A: Organic hot sauces aren’t necessarily lower in calories than non-organic. The ingredient variation has a larger impact on calories than whether it’s organic. Check the label for the shortest, simplest ingredient list.
Q: Should I avoid MSG in hot sauces?
A: MSG has been controversial, but most experts consider it safe. Some people have sensitivities to MSG, so you can choose sauces without it if you prefer. MSG has no calories or carbs.
Q: Are hot sauces with warning labels higher in calories?
A: Not necessarily. Some hot sauces have warning labels just for extreme heat, not added sugars or calories. But thick, sweet sauces more likely need warnings and are higher calorie options.
So don’t fear the flavor! Embrace hot sauce as a healthy tool for weight loss. Just be sure to choose sauce wisely by reading those labels. With the right pick, you can add lots of