Calories serve as a source of the fuel for the body. Anything you consume will be broken down by your body to derive energy and nourishment. The amount of energy you need on a daily basis is determined by the intensity of activity in your lifestyle. If you are one of the few millions who have a pretty active lifestyle then your calorific needs are higher than those who have a sedentary one.
Similarly, if you are keen on getting in shape you would have to cut back on your regular calorie intake or at least modify it. Many a time, altering your calorie intake doesn’t seem to yield the anticipated results. This could be due to various reasons and a major one being, the excess empty calories in your diet.
An Insight Into Empty Calories
Empty calories are incapable of supplying energy on consumption and they are nutritionally unbalanced too. They are basically what we find in unreal foods. They only give your body unnecessary amount of salt, sugar, bad fats which can lead to weight gain and nutritional deficiencies.1
Anything that used refined sugar, flour, chemical additives, fats like trans and saturated fats in its preparation can be considered as foods with empty calories. Almost all beverages, candies and desserts can give you lots of added sugars. Fast foods, cheese and full-fat dairy, hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and ribs are filled with lots of solid fats.2
5 Reasons To Avoid Empty Calories
People who consume empty calories on a daily basis suffer some form of health issues or the other. Here are 5 reasons that will motivate you to cut empty calories from your diet.3
- Following diets that are high in sugar and fat can suppress the activity of a brain peptide called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This reduces cognition, learning abilities and memory power.
- Having foods devoid of fiber but high in salt and spices messes with your digestive system causing flatulence, constipation, and gastrointestinal disorders.
- The refined sugars in junk foods keep the insulin levels chronically high insulin levels, which eventually leads to insulin resistance, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes.
- High-sodium foods lead to its retention in the body. This causes hypertension and its complications.
- Long-term consumption of these foods leads to a vicious cycle of food addiction, depression, and weight gain.
Follow A Nutrient-Dense Diet Instead
On the other hand, if you value health and the importance of having a well-functioning body, you can do that by consciously choosing nutrient-dense foods. These foods give sufficient calories plus an abundance of antioxidants, fiber, lean proteins, healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins. You wouldn’t need to adopt any fad diet to maintain an optimum weight if you consume many of the nutritionally rich foods mentioned below, regularly.4
- Liver (Beef and Chicken)
- Kale, collards and dandelion greens
- Broccoli rabe, cabbage, cauliflower, and spinach
- Exotic berries: acai, goji, camu camu
- Red peppers
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- Wild salmon and sardines
- Bone broth
- Grass-fed beef
- Green beans
- Egg yolks
- Wild mushrooms
- Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, chia, and flax
- Raw cheese and kefir
- Sweet potatoes
- Black beans
- Wild rice and other whole grains
You don’t have to go cold turkey when it comes to eliminating empty calories from your diet. You can have up to 75 empty calories per day. But, it’s better to get habituated to having lesser portions of foods with empty calories and limiting the frequency of consumption.5
|↑1||Snacking Associated with Increased Calories, Decreased Nutrients. United States Department Of Agriculture|
|↑2||Empty Calories Chart. United States Department Of Agriculture|
|↑3||Mishra, Geeta Arya1 Sunita. “Effects of Junk Food & Beverages on Adolescent’s Health–.”|
|↑4||Di Noia, Jennifer. “Peer Reviewed: Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach.” Preventing chronic disease 11 (2014).|
|↑5||Add more nutrient-dense foods to your diet. Harvard Health Publishing|