Glossary of Fat Replacers

Food technologists are investigating a wide range of ingredients and processes to replace fat in foods and beverages. The following is a list of fat replacers currently in use or that have research efforts in place to develop them.


Microparticulated Protein (Simplesse®)
Reduced-calorie (1-2 calorie/gram) ingredient made from whey protein or milk and egg protein. Digested as a protein. Many applications, including: dairy products (e.g., ice cream, butter, sour cream, cheese, yogurt), salad dressing, margarine- and mayonnaise-type products, as well as baked goods, coffee creamer, soups and sauces.

Modified Whey Protein Concentrate (Dairy-Lo®)
Controlled thermal denaturation results in a functional protein with fat-like properties. Applications include: milk/dairy products (cheese, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream), baked goods, frostings, as well as salad dressing and mayonnaise-type products.

One example is a reduced-calorie fat substitute based on egg white and milk proteins. Similar to microparticulated protein but made by a different process. Another example is a reduced-calorie fat replacer derived from a corn protein. Some blends of protein and carbohydrate can be used in frozen desserts and baked goods.


Cellulose (Avicel® cellulose gel, MethocelTM, Solka-Floc®)
Various forms are used. One is a non-caloric purified form of cellulose ground to microparticles which, when dispersed, form a network of particles with mouthfeel and flow properties similar to fat. Cellulose can replace some or all of the fat in dairy-type products, sauces, frozen desserts and salad dressings.

Dextrins (Amylum, N-Oil®)
Four calorie/gram fat replacers which can replace all or some of the fat in a variety of products. Food sources for dextrins include tapioca. Applications include salad dressings, puddings, spreads, dairy-type products and frozen desserts.

Fiber (OptaTM, Oat Fiber, Snowite, UltracelTM, Z-Trim)
Fiber can provide structural integrity, volume, moisture holding capacity, adhesiveness and shelf stability in reduced-fat products. Applications include baked goods, meats, spreads and extruded products.

Also called hydrophilic colloids or hydrocolloids. Examples include guar gum, gum arabic, locust bean gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan and pectin. Virtually non-caloric; provide thickening, sometimes gelling effect; can promote creamy texture. Used in reduced-calorie, fat-free salad dressings and to reduce fat content in other formulated foods, including desserts and processed meats.

Inulin (Raftiline®, Fruitafit®, Fibruline®)
Reduced-calorie (1 to 1.2 calorie/gram) fat and sugar replacer, fiber and bulking agent extracted from chicory root. Used in yogurt, cheese, frozen desserts, baked goods, icings, fillings, whipped cream, dairy products, fiber supplements and processed meats.

Maltodextrins (CrystaLean®, Lorelite, Lycadex®, MALTRIN®, Paselli®D-LITE, Paselli®EXCEL, Paselli®SA2, STAR-DRI®)
Four calorie/gram gel or powder derived from carbohydrate sources such as corn, potato, wheat and tapioca. Used as fat replacer, texture modifier or bulking agent. Applications include baked goods, dairy products, salad dressings, spreads, sauces, frostings, fillings, processed meat, frozen desserts, extruded products and beverages.

A beta-glucan rich fat replacer made from oat and barley using an extraction process that removes coarse fiber components. The resulting product can be used in foods and beverages such as baked goods, milk, cheese and ice cream, yielding products that are both reduced fat and high in beta-glucan. (The soluble fiber beta-glucan has been cited as the primary component in oats and barley responsible for beneficial reduction in cardiovascular risk factors.)

Oatrim [Hydrolyzed oat flour] (Beta-TrimTM, TrimChoice)
A water-soluble form of enzyme treated oat flour containing beta-glucan soluble fiber and used as a fat replacer, bodying and texturizing ingredient. Reduced calorie (1-4 calories/gram) as used in baked goods, fillings and frostings, frozen desserts, dairy beverages, cheese, salad dressings, processed meats and confections.

Polydextrose (Litesse®, Sta-LiteTM)
Reduced-calorie (one calorie/gram) fat replacer and bulking agent. Water-soluble polymer of dextrose containing minor amounts of sorbitol and citric acid. Approved for use in a variety of products including baked goods, chewing gums, confections, salad dressings, frozen dairy desserts, gelatins and puddings.

Polyols (many brands available)
A group of sweeteners that provide the bulk of sugar, without as many calories as sugar (1.6 to 3.0 calories per gram, depending on the polyol). Due to their plasticizing and humectant properties, polyols also may be used to replace the bulk of fat in reduced-fat and fat-free products.

Starch and Modified Food Starch (Amalean®I & II, FairnexTMVA15, & VA20, Instant StellarTM, N-Lite, OptaGrade®#, PerfectamylTMAC, AX-1, & AX-2, PURE-GEL®, STA-SLIMTM)
Reduced-calorie (1-4 calories/gram as used) fat replacers, bodying agents, texture modifiers. Can be derived from potato, corn, oat, rice, wheat or tapioca starches. Can be used together with emulsifiers, proteins, gums and other modified food starches. Applications include processed meats, salad dressings, baked goods, fillings and frostings, sauces, condiments, frozen desserts and dairy products.

A calorie free fat replacer made from insoluble fiber from oat, soybean, pea and rice hulls or corn or wheat bran. It is heat stable and may be used in baked goods (where it can also replace part of the flour), burgers, hot dogs, cheese, ice cream and yogurt.

#Appears as corn starch on the ingredient statement, others appear as food starch modified.


Emulsifiers (Dur-Lo®, ECT-25)
Examples include vegetable oil mono- and diglyceride emulsifiers which can, with water, replace all or part of the shortening content in cake mixes, cookies, icings, and numerous vegetable dairy products. Same caloric value as fat (nine calories/gram) but less is used, resulting in fat and calorie reduction. Sucrose fatty acid esters also can be used for emulsification in products such as those listed above. Additionally, emulsion systems using soybean oil or milk fat can significantly reduce fat and calories by replacing fat on a one-to-one basis.

Salatrim (BenefatT)
Short and long-chain acid triglyceride molecules. A five calorie-per-gram family of fats that can be adapted for use in confections, baked goods, dairy and other applications.

Lipid (Fat/Oil) Analogs

-Esterified Propoxylated Glycerol (EPG)**
Reduced-calorie fat replacer. May partially or fully replace fats and oils in all typical consumer and commercial applications, including formulated products, baking and frying.

-Olestra (Olean®)
Calorie-free ingredient made from sucrose and edible fats and oils. Not metabolized and unabsorbed by the body. Approved by the FDA for use in replacing the fat used to make salty snacks and crackers. Stable under high heat food applications such as frying. Has the potential for numerous other food applications. For more information on olestra, check out the new olestra brochure.

Low-calorie, heat stable, liquid fat substitute composed of fatty acid esters of sorbitol and sorbitol anhydrides. Has approximately 1.5 calories per gram and is suitable for use in all vegetable oil applications including fried foods, salad dressing, mayonnaise and baked goods.

* brand names are shown in parentheses as examples.
** may require FDA approval.

faq2Do you have questions about low-calorie sweeteners? Want to learn more about maintaining a healthy lifestyle? You asked and we listened. Our resident Registered Dietitians answered the most popular questions about low-calorie sweeteners.

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