Low Calorie, Big Taste | A Dieting Guide To Flavor

Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Umami


One secret to a successful diet is adding these flavors to foods that are usually bland. Condiments provide the means to add taste to your food. Another secret is also to keep your calories in check. Some condiments can make that difficult.
Believe it or not, there are a variety of condiments that satisfy your cravings. Here is a guide for macro-friendly condiments that will hit all five of the basic tastes!




Nothing beats the taste of a milkshake or sugary cereal. Calorie-free sweeteners are ideal when you need something to sweeten up a drink or a plain bowl of oatmeal. Sugar-free syrup, low-sugar ketchup and sugar-free jam can provide a hint of sweetness for less than 50 calories a serving. Some sugar-free jam can provide some fibre in lieu of sugar carbohydrates. A win-win for health-conscious sweet lovers!



Sour flavors go well with savory dishes and can go a long way in adding a flavor variety. Low-fat or fat-free sour cream, plain yogurt (Greek or otherwise) and even pickle juice are great sour options to add to your meals. Citrus-based dressings like lemon juice and lemon pepper can make for a nice sour patch.




The word “salt” is in the taste’s name, so that should be a hint as to what you can add. Other salty condiments like mustard, spiced tomato paste, salsa, broth, stock (there is a slight difference), vinegar, soy sauce, and hot sauce are low-cal salty options. Most of these have a high level of sodium, so if you are concerned about your intake, you may want to avoid this flavor choice. The upside to this is that most salty condiments are the lowest in calories, ranging from 0-25 per serving.




Bitter usually has a negative connotation when it comes to flavor, but some of your favorite condiments have a bitter element to them. Coffee grounds and unsweetened cocoa are a great thing to add to dishes that are usually sweet. Horseradish (fresh, not sauce), mustard, and salad greens can be good garnishes for the savory dishes. Options are limited here, but it’s not impossible to find a bitter accompaniment to a meal.

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Umami is described as a “savory” taste, so it may remind you of a meatier dish that will make your mouth water. Salty seasonings like the ones stated in the salty section could also apply here. Asian condiments are very rich in umami flavor. Some include fish sauce, sweet and sour sauce and low-fat and fat-free cheese sauces.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here:

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