We know we get energy in the form of calories from the food we eat. Calories are an essential part of the diet.But we often hear people saying – “Don’t fill up on empty calories!” Have you ever wondered what that statement means?
WHAT ARE THE EMPTY CALORIES
Empty calories are present in foods that have high caloric value but little or no nutritional value. These foods are energy-dense but poor in essential nutrients.
Processed and refined foods high in sugar or fat are often considered as foods providing “empty calories”.When it comes to food, empty calories mean that the food contains little or no essential vitamins or minerals. So, these foods provide nothing of value to our bodies beyond calories that may cause weight gain in some individuals.
SOME SOURCES OF EMPTY CALORIES
- Soft drinks and energy drinks, contain a lot of added sugar.
- Cakes, muffins, pastries, cookies, biscuits and white bread
- Ice-cream, donuts, and chips
- Most fast foods – pizzas, burgers, French fries, and deep-fried takeaway foods
- Highly processed fatty meats such as sausages and bacon
- Candies, syrups, and sweets
- Not to forget, alcoholic drinks.
All of the food mentioned above contains very high levels of fat, or sugar, or both, without much of any other nutrient.
HOW THESE EMPTY CALORIES CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN ?
There is no health benefit of consuming foods that contain empty calories, and they can have a negative impact on your health. As they can lead to weight gain and chronic diseases, so it’s best to limit or avoid empty calories.
WAYS TO AVOID EMPTY CALORIES
- Try to limit the number of foods containing empty calories to only sometimes and in small amounts by practicing mindful eating.
- Move away from heavily processed food and packaged food towards a diet containing more whole and natural foods.
- Eat more nutrient-dense food, such as whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins.
- Read the food labels before buying food items. Seek out foods rich in nutrients while shopping for groceries.
- Plan your meals well in advance. Having a healthy option ready for every meal can help avoid unhealthy snacking and consumption of high-calorie foods.
- Reduce alcohol intake. Regularly drinking alcoholic beverages may add many empty calories to the diet as there are 7kcal in 1g of most alcohols. Reducing your alcohol intake can also help improve your overall health.
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