Do you know what empty calories are? You may have heard the term before, but do you know what they actually are? Many people don’t, so today, I am going to discuss what empty calories are and why they’re important to be aware of.

What Are Empty Calories?

Simply put, empty calories are foods or drinks that provide no nutritional value or benefits to your body. That means they have little to no protein, fiber, vitamins, or minerals. When taken in moderation and in alignment with your overall goals, these foods can be fine. However, when consumed in excess, they can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Common Foods With Empty Calories

A bowl of cereal

Below, I list some common foods that contain empty calories. Do note that these foods are not necessarily bad for you. The key is moderation and being mindful of how often you’re consuming them.

Alcohol

I love my wines, but alcohol is one of the biggest sources of empty calories. Alcohol is often used as a way to cope with stress or unwind after a long day. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s important to be aware that alcohol is packed with empty calories and provides no nutritional value. Over time, excess alcohol consumption can cause you to lose touch with your hunger cues and lead to overeating.

Cereals

Many popular breakfast cereals are loaded with empty calories. While cereals are the ultimate breakfast food because they’re quick and easy to make, they’re often lacking in nutritional value and contain mostly empty calories. When eating cereals, be sure to choose those that are high in fiber and low in sugar. And, always pair your cereal with a source of protein such as milk or yogurt.

Energy And Fruit Drinks

Fruit and energy drinks are two other major sources of empty calories. Most sweetened drinks are made with high fructose corn syrup, which is a type of sugar that can lead to weight gain and other health problems. And sports drinks often contain added sugars and artificial ingredients that offer no nutritional value.

Solid Fat

Solid fats are another type of food that contains mostly empty calories. Both solid fat and added sugar are found in many processed foods such as cookies, cakes, and chips. While these foods may be delicious, they offer little to no nutritional benefit and can cause you to lose track of your goals.

Candy

A plate of hard candies or chocolate minis on your desk may seem harmless, but candy is one of the most commonly consumed empty-calorie foods. Mini candy treats are easy to overeat and don’t provide any nutritional benefits.

What Are The Dangers Of Not Being Mindful Of Empty Calories?

A plate with a sad face drawn on it

If you’re not mindful of the empty calories you’re consuming, it can lead to weight gain. Asides from this, when you consume too many empty calories, your body stores them as fat. And over time, this can lead to obesity and other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Additionally, when you consume empty calories, you’re missing out on an opportunity to nourish your body with nutrients that are essential for good health. By filling up on foods that lack nutritional value, you’re not giving your body the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need to function properly.

How To Cut Down On Empty Calories

A person standing on a scale

If you want to cut down on the empty calories you’re consuming; there are a few things you can do.

1. Make A List Of Your Favorite Empty-Calorie Foods

The first step is to make a list of your favorite empty-calorie foods. This could be anything from soda and candy to cookies and cake. Once you have your list, take a minute to think about why you like these foods. Is it the taste? The texture? The feeling you get when you eat them?

2. Identify Your Triggers

The next step is to identify your triggers. What are the things that make you want to eat empty-calorie foods? Is it boredom? Stress? A specific time of day? Once you know your triggers, you can begin to find other ways to cope with them. For example, if you tend to reach for tons of snacks when you’re bored, try finding a new hobby to keep yourself occupied.

Using foods as a way to cope with emotions is also a common trigger for many people. If this is something you struggle with, it’s important to find other ways to deal with your emotions. This could be talking to a friend, going for a walk, or writing in a journal.

3. Practice Mindful Eating

The third step is to practice mindful eating. This means being more aware of the foods you’re consuming and why you’re eating them. When you eat mindfully, you’re less likely to overeat or make poor food choices.

Some tips for practicing mindful eating include:

Eating slowly: Take your time to chew your food and savor the flavors.

Paying attention to your hunger cues: Listen to your body and eat when you’re actually hungry, not just because it’s “time to eat.”

Avoiding distractions: Turn off the TV and put away your phone so you can focus on your food.

4. Get Nutrient Dense Foods

The fourth step is to make sure you’re getting enough nutrient-dense foods. These are foods that are packed with nutrients but relatively low in empty calories. Some examples include fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, and whole foods.

5. Drink Plenty Of Water

Water is essential for good health, and it can also help you cut down on empty calories. When you’re properly hydrated, you’re less likely to crave foods. Aim to drink eight glasses of water per day.

6. Seek Professional Help

If you’re struggling to cut down on empty calories, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A registered dietitian or nutritionist can provide you with personalized advice and support.

What Not To Do When Cutting Down On Empty Calories

A tape wrapped around a fork

When you’re trying to cut down on empty calories, it’s important to avoid drastic measures. Below, I list some things to avoid when cutting down on empty calories.

1. Avoid Skipping Meals

Another common mistake people make when trying to cut down on empty calories is skipping meals. This is a bad idea for several reasons. First, it can make you more likely to overeat later in the day. Second, it can cause your blood sugar to drop, which can lead to cravings and poor food choices. If you’re trying to cut down on empty calories, make sure you’re eating regular meals throughout the day.

2. Avoid Restrictive Diets

Diets are another thing to avoid when you’re trying to cut down on empty calories. These diets are often very restrictive, and they’re not based on sound science. Additionally, they’re not sustainable in the long term, which means you’re likely to regain any weight you lose once you go off the diet. If you want to cut down on empty calories, stick to making small, sustainable changes to your meals instead of following a fad diet.

3. Avoid Unhealthy Weight Loss Methods

I recommend you avoid using unhealthy methods to lose weight. This includes things like weight loss supplements and drugs. These methods are not only ineffective, but they can also be dangerous. If you want to cut down on empty calories, focus on making beneficial lifestyle changes instead of using these unhealthy methods.

4. Don’t Over Indulge On Alcohol

While moderate alcohol consumption has some health benefits, overindulging can quickly offset any potential positives. Not only is alcohol filled with empty calories, but it can also lead to poor food choices and overeating. If you want to cut down on empty calories, be mindful of your alcohol intake.

5. Don’t Cut Out All Of Your Favorite Foods

If you try to cut out all of your favorite foods, you’re likely to end up feeling frustrated and unhappy. It’s OK to enjoy your treats! Just be mindful of the portion size and make sure the majority of your meals are made up of nutritious foods.

7. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

If you slip up and eat more empty calories than you intended, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone makes mistakes! Just get back on track and focus on making mindful choices in the future.

8. Avoid Getting Caught Up With Food Labels

Finally, don’t get too caught up with food labels. While it’s important to be aware of the nutrients in the foods you eat, obsessing over food labels can lead to unhealthy behaviors.

Conclusion

Cutting down on empty calories is a great way to improve your health and lose weight. The process can be a challenge, but it’s definitely possible with a little effort. Start by identifying your triggers and finding other ways to deal with them.

Then, focus on eating mindfully and getting enough nutrient-dense foods. And finally, don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up – everyone makes mistakes! Just get back on track and focus on making mindful choices in the future.

If you want to learn more about healthy eating and feeling comfortable in your own body, sign up for Lesley Goth’s How to Love What you See in the Mirror Again Masterclass!

 

weight loss meditation

Download My Free Weight Loss Meditation

You have Successfully Subscribed!