What are empty calories?
N.B. This blog is also available in Finnish and you’ll find it here
Briefly, foods with empty calories can contribute to your total caloric intake, but supply only little or no nutritional value.
I’m sure, that you’ve heard the term “empty calories,” but what exactly those are? Calories are supposed to give you energy and keep you doing daily activities, so how can they be empty?
Briefly, foods with empty calories can contribute to your total caloric intake, but supply only little or no nutritional value. In other words it means that those kind of foods doesn’t provide you all (or even a few!) essential nutrients (carbs, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water) to stay healthy and energetic, but they will load you up with unnecessary calories. For example, you can eat a chicken salad or one chocolate covered donut for lunch and they’ll offer you the same amount of calories, but only one will give you long lasting energy, and the other one will be stored on your waist and makes you feel sluggish!
And because your body doesn’t get all the nutrients it needs, you are likely to get sick more easily and be more tired during the day.
Mostly empty-calorie foods tend to be highly processed foods that typically contain unhealthy fats and added sugars, which may lead to weight gain. And because your body doesn’t get all the nutrients it needs, you are likely to get sick more easily and be more tired during the day. It’s okay to enjoy empty calorie foods every now and then (read: have cheat days and indulge on a vacation), but excessive intake doesn’t make good for you in a long run.
To make it easier to scout out and avoid those empty calories, I gathered some examples for you:
• Cookies, pastries, sweet rolls and cakes: basically those contain only sugar, white flours and harmful fat.
• Breakfast cereals: they may sound healthy and some of they have added vitamins, minerals and fiber, but take a look at the amount of sugars per serving in cereal box and you’ll see what I mean. It’s almost the same thing, than have candies for breakfast!
• Jams and flavored syrups: don’t have any nutritional value, give you A LOT of sugars and additives.
• Chips: soaked with fat and salt, don’t give you nutritionally anything even though those are made of potatoes.
• All deep-fried foods: offers you tons of calories from fat and very few nutrients.
• Candies and chocolate bars: it’s probably obvious that they are just full of harmful things without any nutrients.
• White bread: It normally doesn’t have added sugars or fat that much like all the other examples, but gives you hardly any nutrients.
• Juices and sodas: most of them have tons of added sugars, they don’t fill you up, and lack nutrition. Actually, drinking calories is one of the easiest ways to gain fat!
• Alcohol: related to previous, alcohol doesn’t offer you anything else than a moment of hilarious feeling and dehydrated body on the next day!
Instead of guzzling for a bag of chips as a snack, lean on fruits.
As a substitute for highly processed foods, choose for example, fat-free or 1% milk and other low-fat dairy products, fresh fruits and veggies (steamed or oven cooked), whole grain breads, low-fat ground beef, turkey breast, and skinless chicken. Instead of guzzling for a bag of chips as a snack, lean on fruits. Or even better, dip them in low-fat yogurt to get additional calcium and protein, and I’ll promise that you’ll feel better afterwards!