Most cooking oils sit between 100 and 130 calories per tablespoon, and some pretty popular ones are on the lower end of that spectrum. Our list of over 40 different fats and oils has the lowest calorie ones listed at:
- Butter 102 calories
- Hard 100 calories
- Soft 102 calories
- Shortening 115 calories
- Lard 115 calories
- Beef tallow 115 calories
All of the values are per 15mL tablespoon, which is one of the most common measurements for cooking oils (you usually don’t need a lot unless you are deep frying). If you’re looking for even lower-calorie options, some choose to use methods like sauteing in a nonstick pan, with only a little water, or these days, air frying without any oils at all!
Why Do Some Oils Have Less Calories Than Others?
Cooking oil, a high-fat ingredient contains more calories per gram (9 calories) than high-carb or high-protein foods (4 calories). When we measure fats by tablespoon, we do so in mL and not grams, and some fats weigh more than others! This may account for the discrepancy in the caloric content of the oils.
Unless you are counting your calories, the caloric content of oil is usually not the most important thing, but rather the ratio of healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats versus trans and saturated fats. The other thing to consider when cooking with any oil is its smoke point, which is when you heat it too much, and it produces compounds harmful to health.
If My Oil Is Low Calorie, Can I Use More Of It?
Including a moderate amount of fat in a balanced diet is important for everyone. Fat should account for about 20% to 40% of total daily calorie intake, but these numbers can vary slightly based on factors such as body type and metabolism. It’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional or nutritionist to determine the appropriate fat intake for your specific needs.
For example, on a 1500-calorie diet, consuming around 450 calories from fat would be equivalent to approximately 50 grams of fat. To give you some perspective, this amount of fat can be compared to having roughly four tablespoons of olive oil, coconut oil, or a combination.
Overconsumption of fats and oils has been linked to conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, hypertension, unhealthy weight gain, and joint pain.
Do High-Calorie Oils Have More Vitamins?
Oils can still be a valuable addition to your diet. They add flavor and texture to your foods and can provide essential nutrients, including heart-healthy fats. Every oil will have slightly different nutritional compounds; higher calorie does not necessarily mean more vitamins.
Many oils, such as virgin olive oil, contain natural antioxidants like vitamin E. These antioxidants are known for their disease-fighting properties, offering additional health benefits. So, when choosing oils, it’s worth prioritizing those with high levels of antioxidants.
When searching for oils with lower calorie content, focus on those that are unrefined and cold pressed and predominantly made up of unsaturated fats. Look for keywords on the oil label or ingredient list, such as monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), and specifically omega-3 fatty acids. Unrefined and cold-pressed oils retain considerably more vitamins and antioxidants than refined oil.
I don’t mean to gross you out, but one of the first signs my clients mention is abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and an oily film on the top of the toilet water after they pass a bowel movement!
Chefs often use oil as a flavour enhancer to help ingredients cook evenly and reduce food sticking to the cooking equipment!
Eating too much oil can cause digestive upset, as the oils are not easily broken down by the body.
For protein, poaching uses the least oil as it is simply cooking your protein in hot water and blanching for vegetables, as this is the same. You can also saute on a nonstick pan without using any oil.
Diets high in omega-6 can cause inflammation in the body. Many cooking oils contain high levels of omega-6 and should be used in moderation. While omega-6 is an essential fatty acid, the modern diet has too much of it compared to omega-3, and we need to try and reduce the intake of omega-6 while increasing the intake of omega-3.
Canola oil is not banned in Europe. It is a rumor. I live in Europe, and there is canola oil at most supermarkets!