What Are Empty Calories?

Calories are what’s found in food that gives us energy. So, the concept of an ‘empty calorie’ sounds quite contradictory. Well, a calorie can give you energy without actually giving you any nutrition. Sound confusing? Let’s take a look at some examples.

A four-fingered kit-kat contains just over 200 calories. If you were to only eat kit-kats you could get enough energy for the day but you wouldn’t get the right amount of vitamins, minerals, fibre or protein. This is because while kit-kats contain a high amount of macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein), they don’t contain a lot of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

If you were to compare a 2-finger kit-kat (106 calories) with one large granny-smith apple (116) calories you would notice that they both contain a similar amount of energy. However, the apple also contains 6g of fibre, vitamin-c and potassium. This makes the apple a much better option for optimal health than the kit-kat.

Common sources of empty calories are pastries, cereals, breads, sweets, chocolates and cakes. Also, processed foods such as string cheese, flavoured low-fat dairy, crisps and ice-cream. Essentially, anything man-made with a high amount of fat and sugar will most likely just be empty calories.

Some un-thought sources of empty calories are processed meats such as ham, sliced turkey and corned beef. Empty calories aren’t just in the chocolate-bar isle. They’re all over the supermarket and sometimes in the places you least expect.

This is why it’s so vital for us to eat from nature. The basis of your diet should come from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats, fish, poultry and eggs. Dairy can be a good option if your stomach can tolerate it. However, it can cause digestive upset from the protein and lactose content. So, if you feel as though it affects you badly, then it’s best to reduce your consumption or eliminate it completely.

So, what should you take from this article? The best way to make sure your health is in optimal condition is to eat from nature and avoid anything processed. However, this isn’t always practical. Instead, you might want to follow the 80/20 rule. This means that 80% of your diet should be made up of healthy, nutritious and wholesome foods while 20% can come from less-healthy, processed foods that you might be craving. This is the best way to reduce binge-eating and keep your hunger at bay whilst still sneaking in some of those treats we all like to enjoy from time to time.

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