Should U count calories in gum?

Chewing gum has long been a popular snack and oral habit. With its minty freshness and ability to freshen breath, many people chew gum throughout the day without thinking twice. However, some dieters and health-conscious individuals wonder: Should you count the calories in chewing gum?

The Basics of Chewing Gum Calories

Most chewing gums contain very few calories per piece. The calorie content ranges from about 3-15 calories per piece depending on the ingredients, brand and size. Here is the calorie breakdown for some popular chewing gum brands:

Chewing Gum Brand Calories per Piece
Trident 10
Orbit 5
Extra 11
Bubble Yum 15
Dentyne Ice 8
5 Gum 5

As you can see, a single piece of chewing gum contains very minimal calories, ranging from 3 to 15 calories depending on the type. So while chewing gum does technically contain calories, the amount is negligible compared to other types of snacks.

Should You Count Chewing Gum Calories?

Whether or not you should count chewing gum calories depends on your specific diet goals and calorie counting approach:

If you follow a strict calorie limit daily

For those following a strict daily calorie limit, such as 1200 calories per day, the calories from chewing gum may need to be accounted for. Even 15 calories per piece can add up if chewing multiple pieces per day. So strictly limiting intake to 1200 calories would require counting gum. However, for higher calorie diets, gum calories are less significant.

If you do flexible daily calorie intake

For those who follow a more flexible approach centered on averages and goals over time, counting gum calories is likely unnecessary. The calories are minimal enough that they likely will not impact progress over weeks and months of dieting. A few pieces of gum per day will not make or break weight loss goals.

If you’re tracking macros

People who track macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) may want to account for gum calories simply for completeness and accuracy. However, chewing gum is mostly devoid of protein, carbs and fat, so it won’t impact macro nutrient totals in a significant way.

Factors That Impact Chewing Gum Calorie Counts

While most chewing gum is low in calories, there are some factors that can impact the calorie content:

Sugar-free vs regular

Sugar-free gums contain fewer calories than gums sweetened with sugar. Sorbitol is commonly used as a sugar-free sweetener and contains about 2.6 calories per gram vs 4 calories per gram in sugar. So sugar-free gum has fewer calories than the regular, sugared equivalent flavor.

Size of gum pieces

Larger gum pieces containing more gum base and flavoring will contain more calories than smaller pieces. So a big stick of gum generally has more calories than pellet gum.

Brands and flavors

Certain brands feature more robust flavors, inclusions or gum bases, which increases the calorie content slightly. For example, Trident is known for its bold flavors, often containing 10 calories per piece, while other plainer gums like Orbit contain 5 calories.

Fillings, coatings and toppings

Gums featuring mint or fruit fillings, yogurt coatings, or candy sprinkles will have more calories than traditional plain gum. The extra fillings and toppings contribute additional calories and ingredients.

The Downsides of Counting Gum Calories

While counting chewing gum calories may seem harmless, there are some potential downsides to consider:

It may fuel unhealthy fixation on calories

Hyper-focusing on something as small as chewing gum calories can signify problematic fixation on numbers versus overall healthy eating habits. Letting a 5-15 calorie piece of gum throw off your entire day’s intake suggests a level of rigidity that is unnecessary and even unhealthy.

It could lead to guilt and stress

Feeling guilty about indulging in a piece of gum, or feeling stressed about accounting for gum calories in your count for the day, can contribute to an unhealthy relationship with food and negative emotions around eating.

It’s difficult to accurately track

Unless you are constantly counting the exact number of gum pieces chewed per day, actually tracking gum calories with full accuracy is difficult and impractical. Limited transparency around the exact calorie contents of gums also hampers accuracy.

It takes time and mental energy

Remembering to input your gum chewing for the day not only takes time, but also mental energy better spent on other healthy habits. The minimal calorie impact does not justify the tracking effort for most people.

Healthier Ways to Enjoy Chewing Gum

Rather than counting every calorie, focus on the potential benefits and healthier ways to enjoy gum:

Look for sugar-free options

Opt for sugar-free gums to keep calorie counts as low as possible while still enjoying flavor.

Pair with hydration

Chew gum while drinking water to help stay hydrated and satisfied.

Use minty gum for fresh breath

Pop a piece of mint gum instead of mints or breath strips for long lasting fresh breath.

Chew gum after eating

Chew gum after meals as part of your oral care routine to cleanse the palate and freshen breath.

Choose gum over higher calorie snacks

Reach for a piece of gum instead of higher calorie snack foods to satisfy oral cravings.

The Bottom Line

Chewing gum packs a flavor and texture punch with very minimal calorie impact. While technically counting gum calories provides the most accurate calorie intake accounting, it is unnecessary for most people due to the very low calorie content per piece of gum. Counting such minimal chewing gum calories promotes unhealthy fixations on numbers rather than overall health and moderate eating habits. For gum-lovers looking to manage their weight and calories, it is better to focus on more impactful areas like meal portions, sugary beverage intake, exercise and developing positive relationships with food.

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