Have you heard the term ‘empty calories’ and wondered what this means?
Empty calories refers to foods that contain low or no nutritional value but have high amounts of calories. Calories that can result in inches adding to your waistline and that do nothing to benefit your body.
Empty calorie foods provide plenty of energy but do very little to support health and in some cases will even rob your body of essential nutrients that may already be in short supply in your diet. One common problem with these foods is that they can taste great but will have minimal effect for satisfying hunger – and a lot of the time will stimulate it even further so you end up eating even more of them.
If your aim is to maintain a healthy, toned body with healthy body fat levels then a high priority should be to avoid empty calorie foods. Instead focus on foods that are nutritionally dense containing high natural levels of health boosting proteins, good fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
We don’t have to look far to find an endless supply of troublesome empty foods – the majority of processed items on supermarket shop shelves fit the description of empty calories. Sometimes they will even be cleverly cloaked as healthy options. Food producers refine foods so that they will ‘stay fresh’ for a long time – this process unfortunately reduces nutrition value through the removal of natural properties which would otherwise keep you well. One of the most problematic of these types of foods includes products made from white flour.
The modern invention of processing and refining of white flour has virtually obliterated the natural components that would once have kept your appetite in check, blood sugar stable, and cardiovascular and digestive systems healthy.
Let’s take a closer look at Wheat, the humble grain that White Flour is made from. Wheat consists of several components, the Germ or Seed containing natural oil, the Endosperm surrounding the Germ which is the starch, and then the outer layer, Bran, which contains fibre. The nutrients that can help keep you healthy are found in the Germ and the Bran. Milling processes strip away and remove the Germ and the Bran leaving the ‘empty’ Endosperm which is further ground into the highly refined carbohydrate we all know as White Flour. White Flour contains little of its original nutrient value but high amounts of carbohydrate calories (unfortunately your body responds to these sugars in a similar way to normal table sugar).
Wholegrain products made from ‘Wholewheat’ contain the important health providing nutrients that White Flour lacks. For this reason it is wise to choose Wholewheat alternatives instead of White Flour options. On food labels look for 100% Wholegrain in the ingredients.
The lesson from the Wheat example is that in nearly all cases better food choices are those that resemble their natural and unprocessed form as closely as possible – these foods are called ‘Whole Foods’. Minimally processed they contain natural components essential for good health.
Here’s a list of ‘empty calorie’ foods to avoid followed by a list of healthy ‘whole food’ options. By focusing your diet on whole foods you may find yourself achieving a leaner look and put an end to unwelcome body fat gain.
Empty Calorie Foods:
White Flour (Found in White Bread, Pastries, Crackers, Cakes, and Biscuits)
Alcohol (Beer, Wine, Spirits)
Wholegrain Flour (Found in Wholewheat Bread)
Brown / Wild Rice
Oats and Rolled Oats