What are empty calories and why should you avoid them?

Sometimes, when we’re hungry, we seek culinary satiation in the form of snacks that are mostly devoid of nutrients. When we overeat these canned foods, we feel lethargic afterward.

“These foods are called ‘empty calories.’ These are foods and drinks that are high in sugar, fat or alcohol. Regular consumption of these foods increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, lifestyle and hormonal disorders, apart from an apparent increase in weight and bloating,” says Trisha Agarwal, nutritionist at PositivEats.

Empty calories are often found in the following foods:

Carbohydrate-containing desserts such as cakes, cakes, pastries, etc.
Sugary drinks including soda, energy drinks and fruit juices.
Candy bars, chocolate bars, hard candy.
Some meats, including bacon, sausage, and sausages.
Some full-fat products such as butter and ice cream.
Processed oils such as soybean oil and canola oil.
Condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce.
Alcoholic beverages.
– Most of the fast food and fast food like burgers, chips and pizza.

Learn how to make a healthy swap! (Image: Getty/Thinkstock)

According to Agarwal, these foods are packed with toxic high amounts of sugar and fat and come in packages and cans. “You feel the need for more. Any real or fresh food tastes bland and boring if you regularly consume food bought off store shelves.”

The nutritionist adds that you can easily replace unhealthy food items with healthy alternatives. “Replacing empty calories with calories is the best way to avoid them.”

Here’s what you can do:

* Sweetened yoghurt can be replaced with sugar-free yoghurt.
* Artificially sweetened cereals should be replaced with sugar-free muesli.
*Cookies can be avoided, instead small gluten-free peaches or crackers can be consumed as alternative snacks.
*Fried chicken should be avoided and instead grilled or baked chicken should be eaten.
*French fries should be replaced with air fried potato fingers.
* Replace alcohol + mixers with alcohol + a little soda (for instant) + water.
* Barbecue sauce can be replaced with sriracha sauce.

“You should seek the guidance of your nutritionist to help you decide which foods to say yes to. You should also establish an oral vitamin routine for yourself, for example, magnesium deficiency leads to chocolate cravings,” concludes the expert.

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