AICR Health Talk
Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: Will switching to sugar-free cakes and cookies help me lose weight?
A: Switching to sugar-free cakes and sweets is unlikely to lead to much, if any, weight loss. Sweeteners used in these products usually include a sugar alcohol, such as maltitol or sorbitol, which are not zero-calorie, but about half the calories of sugar. Besides, sugar-free baked goods contain significant calories from fat and refined grains. If you compare Nutrition Facts panels on similar types of regular and sugar-free cookies and cake mixes, you’ll see that they usually differ by zero to 30 calories per standard serving.
When you do compare the Nutrition Facts labels, look carefully. Sometimes the serving size of sugar-free baked goods is smaller, either with fewer cookies or with slightly smaller sizes per serving.
Small amounts of calorie savings do add up to produce weight loss. But for most people trying to lose weight, there’s generally no room for daily treats with 200 or more calories and little nutritional value. Choose only two regular cookies instead of three and you’ll save more calories than you do by choosing sugar-free cookies. Other strategies include choosing a smaller portion of cake, splitting a slice with someone or skipping frosted cake and instead topping the cake with sliced fruit.
You don’t need to cut out all sweets in order to lose weight. Work on creating a healthy lifestyle in which you choose sweets less often. When you have them, slow down and really savor a small portion -- the true calorie-saving secret.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).