What you need to know about “empty calories”

If you strive to eat healthy, you may be aware of avoiding foods that contain “empty calories.”

Nutritionists often use the term “empty calories” to explain why some foods are better than others at helping you lose or maintain weight.

But is this concept a little outdated?

In theory, all foods can still be Nourishing the body with calories. Can it be enjoyed in moderation?

Let’s explore empty calories and whether it helps to think of foods this way.

What are the empty calories?

Free from calories It is a term often used to describe foods with little or no nutritional value.

“These foods do not contain beneficial nutrients such as protein, fiber or healthy fats and are usually higher in total carbs, added sugars and solid fats,” explains Beach Body nutritionist. Ilana Molstein, MS, RDN, And partner in establishing Mindset 2B Nutrition program.

On top of that, it’s often easy to overindulge in zero-calorie foods, explains Krista Maguire, RD, CSSD, and Beachbody Nutrition Director.

“Since these foods do not contain fiber and protein and often have higher sugar content, they can lead to blood sugar imbalances and the feeling of dissatisfaction that can lead to overeating,” says Maguire.

Bakery window with an assortment of cupcakes.

Examples of foods without calories

Common zero-calorie food groups include:

  • Desserts (for example, cookies, cakes, cakes, cupcakes, breakfast bars, and other pastries)
  • Candy (such as chocolate, hard candy, chewing gum, and other sweets)
  • Sugary drinks (such as soft drinks, mixed coffee drinks, and fruit juices with added sugars)
  • Solid fats (such as butter and margarine)
  • Fast food (such as potatoes, pizza)

A bowl of uncooked white rice

Is white rice a free food calorie?

Although not listed above, Molstein considers white rice to be empty calories.

“All rice starts out as a whole grain, like brown rice,” she says. “White rice has been stripped of the bran layer, which is supposed to give you the fiber and B vitamins. This leaves only the starchy center without the fiber to aid in fullness.”

But don’t rule out white rice yet.

Maguire says, “White rice Do It contains some nutrients Like protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals (some are due to fortification). Yes, it is stripped of some nutrients during processing; Nevertheless, white rice is considered a staple food in some countries where the population is still thriving.

Both experts agree that since rice is usually eaten as a base and in large quantities, it is best to replace white rice with brown rice, quinoa, or even lentil or cauliflower rice.

Is water an empty calorie food?

Funny enough, water, no-calorie food, it is Not Empty calories.

“It’s just the opposite,” says Molstein. “Water is a vital nutrient. Water.” 60% of body weight. Drinking water before eating can help you register satiety faster. “

Do empty calories cause weight gain?

Not surprisingly, if you overeat “empty calories” foods, you are more likely to gain weight.

“As someone over 100 pounds, I can personally attest to this Losing weight by reciprocity One of the sources of empty calories in my diet, “Molstein says.

Not only are these foods low in benefits, they also have an addictive quality that is not suitable for moderation. Furthermore, things like soda contain added sugars, which are known to cause health problems if you cannot exercise in moderation.

But is “empty calories” an old concept?

Slices of vegetarian pizza

Each of our nutrition experts acknowledge that the concept of empty calories is overly simplistic.

Because ’empty calories’ is a bit personal,’ says Maguire. “I wouldn’t call certain types of pizza calorie-free as there could be some – focus on Some – Nutritional value. A thin wholegrain crust, cauliflower crust or pizza with a little cheese, lots of vegetables and lean protein can provide some nutritional benefits. “

Both pizza and soft drinks are calorie-free. Soda is straight sugar, and pizza contains some valuable nutrients such as protein or calcium. Despite the nuances, empty calories are not, Muhlstein adds. We live in a largely unhealthy society, and this is a useful concept for teaching people how to make healthy food choices. “

Could empty calories have a role in our diet?

“Yes, empty calories can be beneficial,” says Maguire. Athletes may think of empty calories filled with simple sugars as quick energy to replace muscle glycogen. Other people – for example, an advanced adult struggling to maintain their weight – may benefit from the extra empty calories.

But if you’re not into any of those campgrounds, calorie-free foods should play a small role in your diet.

Ask yourself if you are the type to exercise moderation.

“Sure, you can eat sweets and sweets, but it’s a slippery slope, and you can fall into the trap of eating more and more empty calories,” says Molstein.

“If you train for a marathon or do a lot of physical activity, you can burn off the sugars, fats and calories from these foods. She adds that even athletes and people looking to gain weight will benefit from a healthy diet rich in fiber.”

How to make healthy choices

To make healthy food choices, it might be easier mentally to focus on who we are Could you We eat instead of what we cannot.

The other side to avoiding empty calories is to choose more nutrient-dense foods. Since most of the calorie-free foods are snacks, you need to get to them Healthy snacks While that!

What do you think?

Written by Joseph

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