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