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Empty Calories – Let us Understand this

Empty Calories

Foods are supposed to give calories and Empty Calories sounds like a paradox right? We need calories to function our day-to-day activities. These are the energy providers for sustenance and we get them through the food we eat. So, empty calorie foods are those which contain calories but lack essential nutrients like protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Read below to understand more on empty calorie foods, their effect on the body and how to replace them with nutrient-dense foods.

More about empty calorie foods

Empty calorie foods are mostly processed foods and packages beverages which have added sugar and solid fats. These foods increase your overall calorie intake for the day but offer little to no nutrients. Transfat like margarine is mostly added to processed foods to enhance flavour and texture. Though sugar is naturally present in most of the foods, processed sugar and addition of extra sugar is harmful. This makes a food high on empty calories.

Mostly empty calorie foods are cheap, convenient and inexpensive compared to fresh foods. A few examples of empty calorie foods are cakes, cookies, biscuits, jams, packed fruit juices, ice creams etc. Fast foods joints which provide pizza, burger, burrito bowls etc are also contributing to your empty calorie consumption. Since these foods contain minimum or no fibre, one may tend to go overboard with portions leading to overeating. This also poses higher threat to health other than the mere intake of unwanted calories.

Alcohol is another source of empty calories. It provides 7Kcal of energy for every gram. Alcohol contains little to no nutritional value and does not contribute to any significant contribution of nutrients to our daily diet. There is no way to store alcohol in the body other than as fat unlike protein or carbohydrates. So if you are avoiding packed foods but having alcohol on a regular basis, your consumption of empty calories is still higher!

Beware of empty calories

Loading excess empty calories along with regular food consumption with sedentary lifestyle leads to various health complications. These include insulin resistance, increase body fat, obesity, hormonal fluctuations in both men & women and lowered bone mineral density. Since most of these conditions are inter-related, triggering one condition can silently lead to the other if not taken care at the right time!

Replacing empty calories with nutrient dense foods

As the name suggests, these are natural and are rich in essential nutrients. Fruits, vegetables and other plant products are a few examples for the same. These foods are fewer in calories but denser in nutrients. They are healthy and balanced to provide the nutrients required for normal body functioning. They are also higher in soluble fibre which means you would know how not to overeat them.

Though eating an empty-calorie food occasionally is acceptable, an overall unhealthy lifestyle along with this could be a bad combination. This is especially true when you are under high stress, rarely eat home-cooked foods and have no time for exercise! It becomes natural for us to rely on empty-calorie foods in such scenarios as a matter of convenience and to save time.

Good health is an outcome of healthy food choices day in and day out. It may seem like a tough task for you but our Experts at BucketList Dreams can make it hassle-free and easy for you.

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-Aruna

Consultant, Nutrition