All of us have either heard the saying ’empty calories,’ or we’ve said it ourselves. But what does it really mean? And, how bad is it?
Defining Empty Calories
Empty calories can be divided into the following categories, with the unifying theme of lacking nutritional value.
- Alcohol – this one’s pretty common sensical but it’s worth reiterating that alcohol is full of unnecessary calories. Especially beer! Yes, it can taste as lovely as an angel’s smile, but it’s not the best thing for you. Sorry.
- Sugar – it’s a fantastic way to enhance certain foods, but it’s not what the doctor ordered. Excess sugar adds energy to the consumer, but it does little else. No nutrients here to speak of, sadly.
- Solid Fat – this refers to fats that are solid at room temperature, including things like margarine and butter. They are found in all of your favorite foods, including pizza, chips, crackers, and even whole milk. Oh, and did we mention hamburgers? Again, we feel bad pointing this stuff out, but it’s simply too much to ignore.
What’s The Solution?
Isn’t it obvious? Avoid these calories like the plague! Psh, yeah if only it were that easy. Truthfully speaking, there’s no way around ingesting these empty calories from time to time. Instead, we just need to focus on a) limiting our intake, and b) supplementing them with healthy and nutritious items.
Habit-forming is the best solution. Get into the pattern of eating the healthiest food you can, and an occasional slip up won’t harm you too much.
One method that seems to work (for me at least) is envisioning how I’ll feel 3 hours after the fact. You know, like when you have a large piece of cake in front of your face and you just know your life will be a living hell after eating it. I guess the correct term is foresight, but I just call it “tummy ache avoidance.” It’s not brain surgery, it’s just a matter of personal safety.
Let’s be clear, you can be a relatively fit person and still consume empty calories here and there. In fact, 78 percent of people who earn $75,000 or more drink alcohol, many of whom shop at Whole Foods and have expensive yoga memberships. So it IS possible to indulge and still keep that youthful figure afloat. Believe it.
Like with any habit, moderation is key. As a wise man famously said, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”