Calorie Counting Fats and Carbohydrates in Your Diet

By Jane Kirby, The American Dietetic Association

On a gram-by-gram basis, fat has more calories than carbohydrates or protein. Therefore, eliminating fat or cutting down on the amount you eat helps you lose weight. However, if fat is replaced with carbohydrates, as it is in many fat-reduced and fat-free products, the total number of calories in a serving may not be reduced. Consequently, no weight loss occurs.

The following table shows you how reducing fat in a product doesn’t always mean that its calories are reduced, too.

Lowfat Doesn’t Always Mean Low Calorie
Food Portion Calories
Refrigerated whipped topping 2 tablespoons 25
Lite refrigerated whipped topping 2 tablespoons 25
Canned turkey gravy 1/4 cup 30
Canned fat-free turkey gravy 1/4 cup 30
Fig bars 2 110
Fat free fig bars 2 100
Canned refried beans 1/2 cup 100
Canned fat-free refried beans 1/2 cup 100
Peanut butter 2 tablespoons 191
Reduced-fat peanut butter 2 tablespoons 187
Vanilla frozen yogurt 1/2 cup 104
Nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt 1/2 cup 100
Homemade caramel topping 2 tablespoons 103
Fat-free caramel topping 2 tablespoons 103

But in some cases, a lower fat content does mean fewer calories, especially when it comes to dairy products. The following table gives a few examples.

Where Lowfat Does Mean Lower Calorie
Food Portion Calories
Cottage cheese, 4% milk fat 1/2 cup 110
Cottage cheese, 1% milk fat 1/2 cup 82
Whole milk 8 ounces 150
Fat-free milk 8 ounces 85
Yogurt, lowfat 8 ounces 155
Yogurt, nonfat 8 ounces 135
Vanilla ice cream 1/2 cup 135
Vanilla ice milk 1/2 cup 90