Fact Or Fiction: Are Pickles Really 0 Calories?

Nowadays, people are much more cautious about their diet and general lifestyle. We enjoy keeping an eye on how many calories we’re consuming and we often watch what we’re eating. 

Pickles have long been established as a healthy choice of food, and many people will claim that pickles are actually free of any caloric value. 

Fact Or Fiction: Are Pickles Really 0 Calories?

But what’s the truth? Are pickles really 0 calories? Technically, the answer is yes and no. In legal terms they are, but that’s not entirely the case.

Today’s article will explore the fact and fiction of this claim and aim to get to the bottom of it. Ready to discover the reality? Join us below and read on! 

Calories: What You Need To Know 

Before we go any further, it’s a good idea that we explore everything you need to know about calories, like what they are, how they work and if they’re good or bad. Let’s examine this area a bit more. 

What Are Calories And How Are They Measured?

Calories are the unit we use to measure energy that you receive from food and drink. When someone consumes more calories than they burn off through exercise, they store calories in the form of fat. 

To put it at its most simple, one calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a gram of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Therefore, you might see on a food packet something like “30 Kcal per 100g”. 

Are Calories Bad?

This is a relatively complex question. Calories aren’t “bad” as such, until you start to consume too many calories and begin to get obese, along with all of the health problems that are associated with obesity.

However, calories are a necessity to our everyday life – they are literally our energy. Even plants have ways to store energy using their fatty cells. 

There are times when someone needs to consume more calories than they burn off and there are other times when someone needs to consume fewer calories than they burn off. It depends on certain factors.

For example, someone might want to store more fat as they are going to a very cold climate for an extended period of time (this has been seen by researchers heading to arctic areas). 

However, if a person is obese – they will need to consume fewer calories than they burn. We burn calories naturally throughout the day, but performing physical activity will burn more calories. 

As our bodies will look towards our energy storage to keep going, fat “supplies” from our bodies will begin to deplete. 

What Is A Pickle?

This may sound like a silly question, but it’s actually quite important to this article. A pickle is a fermented cucumber, so it technically is a vegetable (despite being labeled a fruit of the vine!).

This is critical to understand because some people wrongly believe that vegetables all have no calories, and as a result they will continue to eat them without thinking about what they’re eating. 

No Calories? Really?

When we’re asking ourselves about what zero calories actually means, we need to separate the “reality” versus what the label says. One of the biggest factors in this is the single serving metric. 

Most food products will have an area on the label that explains nutritional value based on a single serving. Sometimes, these single serving portions make perfect sense and the figures all seem fine. However, other times they are wildly underestimated. 

Regulators in the food industry allow a food product to be presented as 0 calories if the food product is fat-free and the single serving caloric value is under 5 Kcal. They must also have no alcohol, no simple carbs and no proteins.

Surprisingly, there’s a lot of foods out there that fit this bill and pickles are one of them. However, pickles actually have 0.8 Kcal per single serving, which means if you ate ten of them – you’d consume 8 Kcal.

Now, while this is very low – it’s not calorie free, and this is very important to understand when in the context of answering this question.

What Is A Single Serving Of Pickles?

SIngle servings will differ from person to person in real terms. However, most labels will have a recommended single serving amount. 

What’s more bizarre is the fact that some products describe their single serving in ounces and pounds. So, one single serving of pickles might say “one ounce” – which suggests you’d need to weigh out one ounce of pickles to understand a single serving.

The easiest way to answer this question is to say that you should make your own judgment, because one serving for one person could be totally different from another person. While some labels will have simple serving suggestions on them, you don’t have to follow them.

How Strictly Should I Follow These Serving Suggestions?

As we said, you don’t have to. However, if you are an Olympic runner or you have an extremely strict diet, then that’s the only time you should take these measurements very seriously. 

You will likely have trouble understanding the single serving portion though, so it’s unsurprising that people may avoid pickles altogether if they fall into this category.

Fact Or Fiction: Are Pickles Really 0 Calories?

Will I Gain Weight From Eating Pickles?

As we mentioned earlier, weight is gained when you consume more calories than you burn off. As we have established, pickles do have a caloric value – albeit very small. 

It is very unlikely that you would be able to gain weight from eating pickles because you would need to eat a huge amount of pickles alone to burn fewer calories than you’re consuming. 

However, it’s important to note that you need to also take into account the other foods you are consuming with the pickles to work out how many calories you are actually taking in.

So, while you might not gain weight from eating pickles alone, you could gain weight from eating meals with pickles in them. At this point, we would like to point out that it’s not advised just to eat pickles alone! 

You need to have a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, healthy fats and some carbohydrates – unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor. 

Are Pickles Good For You?

Pickles do have some fiber, vitamins and minerals – but they have no fats, no protein and no carbohydrates. While they’re not necessarily bad for you, pickles alone are not a healthy meal. 

However, pickles included within a balanced diet can be fantastic – especially as a way to sate your appetite if you’re actively trying to lose weight. 

It’s important to note here also that while the majority of pickles will be fine for you to eat, some pickles are cooked in unhealthy ways or are used in unhealthy foods. Some fast food places will use pickles in burgers for example. 

These pickles are often fried in unhealthy oils and fats, and these actually do have a caloric value which is often higher than the pickle alone. 

Other 0 Calorie Foods 

Earlier, we mentioned that vegetables are often seen as being negative calorie foods. This is because of things like celery which many think burns more calories eating it than it does to consume it.

The fact is, all of these foods will have a caloric value, albeit very low and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to gain weight by eating them in usual portion sizes. At the same time, these foods can be filling. 

This is why they’re excellent to fill your plate with when you’re trying to control your calories, particularly if you’re trying to lose weight. If however, you’re trying to gain weight, you should still include these foods in your diet – but try to add more protein and fats. 

Will I Get Sick From Just Eating Pickles?

As we said earlier, it’s not advised to just eat pickles when it comes to your diet. Just eating pickles will likely result in rapid weight loss, a severely reduced energy level and you will probably feel sick a lot due to hunger. 

Without the right nutritional requirements, you may also find it difficult to fend off illnesses like the common cold because your immune system has been affected negatively. 

In other words, if you’re thinking about just eating pickles alone as a way to lose weight or as some sort of experiment – we’d seriously advise against it. Enjoy pickles as part of a healthy and balanced diet and get enough exercise, then you’ll feel great. 

The Bottom Line 

Pickles are only 0 calories on the label because the single serving is under 5 Kcal, along with the other specifications that allow them to be advertised as such. However, in real terms – pickles do have calories, but they do not have many.

Mark Williams
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