What are Empty Calories?

Every food that we eat is filled with calories. It is calories that accumulate and equal weight gain or weight loss. How many of your calories are not doing anything for you?

Empty calories are just what they sound like. They give you all of the negatives and none of the positives when you eat them. There are foods that are high in calories but low in fat. We often look at the lower level of fat and feel that it is okay for us to eat that food. But, that high caloric content may be hiding an even more sinister effect on your body.

Foods that contain these kinds of calories have no nutritional value. We eat food in order to bring nutrients into our bodies. The body can produce some essentially-needed components, but not all. The bulk of them need to be introduced to the body through our food choices. Foods that can be broken down into components that the body can then absorb and use for maintenance, repair and function, are full of necessary nutrients.

With no nutritional value, the food is either eliminated or stored for later use. When it is stored it is stored as fat. The body doesn’t know what else to do with it. More fat is what you don’t want on your body.

These empty calories are often in the fat group of the food pyramid. If you’ve ever seen a food pyramid, the smallest portion is occupied by fats and oils. Go to www.mypyramid.gov to see an updated version for children and adults. Fats are essential but we mostly eat the wrong kind, and that is not helping our body.

Junk food falls into this category too. They come under sweets and fats. Think of foods fried in oil. French fries, fried chicken and chips are all high in fats. They may be made of potatoes and poultry, but the fat content is higher due to the oils. If they are fried in trans fats, then you are also increasing your cholesterol levels and that could spell trouble.

Sodas are culprits for empty calories as well. They are filled with sugars that get stored as fat. Think about a soda. It has 130 calories per cup. That same 130 calories when used to eat a turkey sandwich, a salad and water is more filling and will last longer. Excess sugars and fats can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.

Eliminate those empty calories by eating natural foods for sweetness and also whole grains to increase the beneficial nutrients in your body. Go for fiber rich foods, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meat. Try to even go meatless sometime and opt for plant protein.