Whenever weight loss is your goal, it’s important to keep hunger under control. This leads many dieters to seek out foods marketed as zero calories, such as pickles.
But just because food companies market pickles as a zero calorie food, that doesn’t make it true. So do pickles have calories?
If you’ve ever wondered, how do pickles have no calories – keep reading to learn the pickle calories truth. You’ll also learn the reasons pickles are often touted as a great weight loss tool.
Do Pickles Have 0 Calories?
First of all, pickles are made by immersing a raw cucumber in an acidic liquid or saltwater brine. Pickling fruits and vegetables is a way to keep them from spoiling.
So if pickles are simply cucumbers soaked in saltwater, and cucumbers have calories – then how are pickles 0 calories?
The truth is, pickles have calories. Food companies are allowed to refer to them as zero-calorie foods due to their low calorie count.
In fact, the FDA allows manufacturers to label anything with less than 5 calories as a zero calorie food. That’s why some jars show 0 calories, while others show 5 calories per serving.
Furthermore, many people refer to pickles as a negative-calorie food. That’s because some say it takes more energy to chew and digest a pickle than the amount of calories in a pickle. However, negative calorie foods are a controversial topic since not everyone believes that digesting your food negates the calories you eat.
Whether you refer to pickles as a calorie-free food or a food with negative calories, the bottom line is pickles can be counted as a healthy snack if you choose a high quality brand.
How Many Calories Do Pickles Have?
Since there are a variety of pickles to choose from, the calories in pickles are determined by other ingredients added into the jar or recipe. While some pickles contain close to zero calories, others can have up to 150 calories or more per serving.
When it comes to calories for pickles, always check the labels prior to purchase. While you’re looking at the calories, also glance at the ingredients. Many brands add preservatives that aren’t great for weight loss or health. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Before we get to which pickle ingredients to avoid, let’s talk about general pickle calorie counts in various kinds of pickles. That way you know where to start whenever a pickle craving strikes.
Calories In Pickle Spear
Pickle spears are often used as a garnish, or even sometimes as a quick snack. Since pickle spears can help quench pickle cravings, while also taking the edge off of hunger, that begs the question – how many calories in a pickle spear?
Most brands of pickle spears contain between 0-5 calories per spear. This includes most of the popular brands you find on store shelves, such as Claussen, Vlasic, and Mt. Olive spears.
If you’re wondering how many calories are in a dill pickle, most brands found on store shelves are the dill pickle variety. So the dill pickle calories are all in the same range of 0-5 calories per pickle spear.
Keep in mind, these are the brands of pickles that include cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt and other preservatives as the ingredients. Once you add sugar into the mix, that changes the calorie count completely.
Calories In Pickle Slices
The calories in pickle slices are even lower with only around 1 calorie per slice.
This makes sense since jars of pickle slices typically contain the same ingredients as jars of pickle spears. The slices are just smaller than the spears – which means they have less calories per slice.
Since pickle slices are often a sandwich garnish, the real calorie concern should be what’s on the rest of your sandwich. Getting rid of the bread and opting for a low carb plan is a great place to start!
Calories in Sweet Pickles
The amount of calories in sweet pickles can vary anywhere from 14 calories in a medium sized Gherkin pickle, all the way up to 146 calories per cup of bread and butter pickles.
These are higher than classic dill pickle calories since the final product contains more sugar. While a small amount of sugar is added to most pickles in order to balance the tartness of the vinegar, some sweet pickles ramp up the sugar content quite a bit.
Adding more sugar helps create a sweeter flavor profile, which some pickle lovers crave.
Fried Pickles Calories
If you love deep fried pickles, your preference may change once you learn that they contain significantly more calories than a regular dill pickle.
Since these pickles are typically coated in breading and then fried in fat, deep fried pickles contain up to 174 calories for a single spear. When you add in a high-fat dipping sauce, the calorie count increases even more.
Are Pickles Good For Weight Loss?
Whenever weight gain is a concern, most people look for that miracle food that will help you take off the weight quickly. With less than 5 calories in a pickle spear, are pickles the weight loss miracle you need?
Even though pickles have some weight loss claims attached to them (especially with the pickle juice left behind), I wouldn’t exactly call them a miracle weight loss food. Still, they have some overall health benefits which may be a good reason to keep them in your daily diet.
Since improved health leads to long term weight loss, having a dill pickle spear or a cup of dill pickles as a snack could help your overall weight loss efforts. Some of the health benefits of pickles may include:
- Vitamins and Minerals: Pickles contain a high concentration of vitamins and minerals. This is because the salty brine draws out the water from the pickles.
- Great Source of Healthy Probiotic Bacteria: Fermented pickles can help improve gut health by contributing to the good bacteria necessary for better digestive health. (Look for labels that say “naturally fermented” since most pickles are not fermented).
- Good Source of Vitamin A: A pickled cucumber is a great source of beta-carotene, which turns into vitamin A in your body. This may help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory diseases.
- Aids in Electrolyte Imbalances: Pickle juice is high in sodium. It also contains some potassium and magnesium. Therefore it can help ease muscle cramps and may help with dehydration – especially on a keto diet.
- Helps Balance Blood Sugar Levels: Some say the vinegar in pickle juice can help even out blood sugar levels.
Do Pickle Calories Even Matter?
Of course the biggest weight loss benefit associated with pickles is if you follow a calorie restricted diet. Having a small spear as a quick snack could be just what you need once you hit your daily calorie allowance, yet you feel like you need a crunchy snack.
While I no longer believe a low-calorie diet is the best way to lose weight (especially if your goal is to keep the weight off long term), I remember the days of desperately searching the kitchen high and low for a low-calorie snack. Pickles are a lifesaver if you still believe eating fewer calories is the path to weight loss success.
Of course, now I believe not eating enough calories is one of the most common reasons for yo-yoing weight. If you want to learn how I lost 100 pounds by eating more healthy fats (while keeping pickles in my plan) – check out my free guide. It shows you how I finally found sustainable weight loss after decades of struggling with low calorie diets.
Weight Loss Drawbacks
Eating too many pickles can also have negative consequences on the scale. Even though pickles only contain trace amounts of calories, most pickles contain high levels of sodium. Too much sodium can lead to water retention. This means a higher scale weight in the form of retained water.
Also, the recommended daily value of sodium is less than 2300 mg per day. Since one kosher dill pickle spear contains an average of 283 milligrams of sodium, it’s easy to reach your daily limit with just a few pickles.
Consuming large amounts of sodium on the standard American diet can lead to high blood pressure. This contributes to many other potential health problems. If blood pressure is a problem for you, always look at the nutrition facts and choose a low sodium brand.
A final drawback of keeping pickles in a balanced diet is some of the ingredients in most pickles on grocery store shelves. Harmful ingredients to avoid include polysorbate 80, yellow 5, and sodium benzoate. These ingredients are all found in brands like Vlasic Kosher Pickles, and all have potential health consequences of their own.
While some studies state the ingredients are safe, it’s always best to look the study sponsors. I do my best to steer clear of controversial ingredients for improved health and better weight loss.
Pickles are not truly a zero calorie food. Even though pickles are touted as having zero calories, most pickles contain between 0-5 calories.
Most dill pickle spears contain between 3-5 calories.
Pickle juice is sometimes used to help occasional heartburn since the juice is acidic. If chronic heartburn is a problem, learn why heartburn is typically caused by low stomach acid and how you can finally improve this painful symptom for good.
Pickle juice can help a small fraction of people who suffer with low blood pressure due to the extra acid in the juice. Learn how to improve low stomach acid the right way to improve the health conditions associated with low blood pressure.
Make Weight Loss Easy
If your goal is to eat more pickles in order to stick to a calorie restricted plan, please understand this is one of the biggest weight loss mistakes I made for decades. Even though it seems counterintuitive, the average woman eats too few calories for sustainable weight loss.
Want to learn the other mistakes I made that led to decades of devastating yo-yo diets? Check out our free masterclass. You’ll learn the tricks I learned to lose 100 pounds – and how I finally kept it off for good!
Do Pickles Have Calories
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