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The Dreadful Empty Calorie

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Empty calories have many negative side effects

Empty calories have many negative side effects

Empty calorie food have very little or zero nutritional value, containing almost no dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals or amino-acids (the “stuff” that keeps our body working optimally).

Most people know the common offenders (sodas, candy, pie, cake, etc.) but even health foods can be harmful to you, so its important to read labels. Its usually a good rule to stay away from anything that has more than 10 ingredients in it. And the ingredients you should definitely stay away from are enriched and bleached flour, artificial coloring, MSG, sodium nitrate and nitrite.

What does this mean for you?

The problem with eating food with a low nutritional density is the resultant nutrient deficiency means that you have to take in more calories, possibly a surplus of calories to get the amount of vitamins and minerals you need.pizza

Empty calorie foods also leave you hungry after consuming them, making you want more later in the day. Soda is a good example, because people will drink it to satisfy their thirst, just to end up thirstier than before and wanting more.

So how can this affect your body?

When eating foods with lots of empty calories, you experience a blood sugar spike, which falls almost as quickly as it peaked. This is known as the “crash” you experience after things like sodas, candies, or desserts. This swing in blood sugar can be intense, leaving you tired and craving another boost from these empty calorie foods.

This swing can lead to a negative cycle in your body, easily leading to weight gain.

So why do people eat these foods?

Empty calorie foods are made to taste good, they’re convenient, they’re cheap, you can find them almost anywhere, and they set off the ‘reward system’ of your brain, which sends off signals of pleasure.

What are they?

These empty calories are made from solid fats (shortening, butter, beef fat) and added sugar (sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup), and are added to make foods more enjoyable.


Added sugars- fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sodas

Solid fats- ribs, bacon, hot dogs, sausages, cheese, pizza

Both solid fats and sugars- ice cream, donuts, pastries, cookies, cakes

                                                                                  Easy changes:

Sweetened applesauce = choose unsweetened applesauce

Regular ground beef = choose extra lean ground beef (95% lean)

Sugar-sweetened cereals = choose unsweetened cereals

 Its time to decrease the empty calories and eat for good health.healthy eatings

And remember:

In order to achieve something you’ve never done before, you must be willing to become somebody you’ve never been before

Calorie Break Down

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I’m going to break down what a calorie is, how its used, and some other fun facts!


So just to be clear, calories aren’t bad for you, they’re needed to survive.

Plain and simple, a calorie is a unit of energy that the body uses to function.

And there are 3 main sources of calories: Proteins (1g = 4 calories), Carbohydrates (1g = 4 calories), and Fats (1g = 9 calories). We need all 3 sources to survive so trying to cut out any one of these is not a good idea.

Lets put this information to use.

We’re gonna take a look at an oatmeal label, and see how the calories, Proteins, Carbohydrates “Carbs”, and Fats play out.

On the label, our oatmeal has 2 grams of Fat, 4 grams of Protein and 32 grams of Carbs, producing a total of 162 calories.

Of these 162 calories,

18 come from Fat (9 cal x 2g),

16 come from Protein (4 cal x 4g) and

128 come from carbohydrates (4 cal x 32g).

 Your body can only do 2 things with this energy: burn it (daily living & exercise) or store it. And the #1 pathway is to store this energy as fat!!!


Do you have goals of losing weight? Gaining weight? Maintaining weight? nutritional eating

Ultimately, your body weight is dependent only on the difference between the amount of calories that you consume versus the amount of calories that you burn (aka caloric balance).

  • If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight
  • If you burn more calories than you eat you will lose weight
  • If you eat the same amount of calories that you burn your weight will not change

Also, there is no such thing as good and bad calories. Molecules don’t come with labels indicating where they came from, whether that’s processed, organic, free range, etc. (that doesn’t mean I don’t care where they came from for other reasons such as added hormones).

Be sure to check back for my follow up post on the dreaded “Empty Calorie” and what it means for you.

And remember:

In order to achieve something you’ve never done before, you must be willing to become somebody you’ve never been before