A food that is labeled as “zero calories” (or no calories, calorie free, or any other variation) actually can have some calories. There can be up to 5 calories per serving and the food still qualifies as calorie free.
This particular label is from a flavored water with added electrolytes and vitamins. There are no calories, but it does contain artificial sweeteners. Erythritol, crystalline fructose, and rebiana (stevia extract) are listed as the second ingredient on the label. (“Reverse osmosis water” is the first.)
Depending on your feeling about sweeteners that are not regular sugar, you might opt for the original version of this water that has 120 calories per bottle, but uses fructose (fruit sugars) and cane sugar for sweeteners.
“Low calorie” or “few calories” means the food has less than 40 calories per serving. This sports drink has 30 calories per serving. (But watch out – there are 2.5 servings in the bottle!)
The original version of this drink has 80 calories per serving. The sweeteners in the regular version are sucrose (cane sugar, or table sugar) and dextrose (glucose, a sugar made by people, animals, and plants for energy). The low calorie version uses sucrose and sucralose (Splenda).
A food that is labeled with “fewer calories” or “lower calories” (or any variation on this theme) has at least 25% fewer calories than the reference food (a comparable product). The comparable food must be declared on the label, along with the difference in calorie content.
This ice cream has 1/3 fewer calories than regular ice cream. The reference food here is just the “average” regular ice cream. This ice cream has 120 calories per serving, compared to 210 calories per serving in regular ice cream.
Even with reduced and lower calorie foods, it is still important to watch the serving sizes. The serving size for this ice cream is 1/2 cup, and there are 12 servings per container. (120 calories per serving adds up fast – that’s almost 1500 calories in this tub of ice cream!)
Did you notice this ice cream also has 1/2 the fat of regular ice cream? We’ll be diving into the different fat labels next week.
Stay tuned for “sugar labels” later this week!