Many modern foods and drinks contain empty calories. These are calories that come from foods with almost no nutritional value. Learning and understanding how to recognize empty calorie in foods can help a person to develop healthier eating habits.
What are empty calories?
The term empty calories apply to foods and beverages primarily or solely composed of sugar, fats, oils, or alcohol. These calories supply food energy but almost zero nutrition such as vitamins, minerals, protein, fibre, or essential fatty acids. The added fats and sugars make these empty calorie foods taste good, which can cause people to crave them1.
Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter, beef fat, and shortening. Some solid fats are also found naturally in foods. They can also be added when foods are processed by food companies or when they are prepared. Carbohydrate-based desserts are the prime source of empty calories.
Empty calories come from added sugars and solid fats, as well as some processed oils.
Where can they be found?
Foods and beverages containing empty calories:
- carbohydrate-based desserts, such as cakes, cookies, granola bars, and more
- sugary drinks, soda, energy drinks, and fruit juice
- candies and chocolate bars
- some meats, including bacon, sausages, and hotdogs
- some full-fat foods, such as butter, shortening, and ice cream
- processed oils, such as soybean and canola oil
- condiments, such as ketchup, mayonnaise and more
- fast food and other snacks, including burgers, wraps, pizza, French fries and more
- fatty cheese and ice cream, and other full-fat dairy products as they contain a good amount of solid fat
- alcohol like beer, wine, hard spirits and another alcoholic beverages.