Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Quick Tips: Avoiding Empty Calories
Dieting is hard. But avoiding "empty" calories helps you reach a healthy weight without feeling like you're dieting.
Your body needs a certain amount of energy each day. Energy comes from food in the form of calories. Calories let you function and keep doing your daily activities. But after your body meets its needs, it stores extra calories as fat. Most of us get plenty of calories in our diet—often too many.
Foods with empty calories have lots of calories but very few nutrients like vitamins and minerals. "Convenience foods," like packaged snacks, chips, and sodas, are common sources of empty calories. Nutrient-rich foods, on the other hand, have a lot more nutrients in relation to their calories. A few examples are vegetables, peanut butter, bran cereal with fruit, and fish.
Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee drinks
Water, no-sugar-added fruit juices, tea or coffee, tomato juice, and other vegetable juices
Whole milk and dairy products made from whole milk
Fat-free or 1% milk and other low-fat dairy products
High-fat meats like many cuts of beef, corned beef, pork sausage, and luncheon meats
Low-fat ground beef, turkey breast, and skinless chicken
Sugary treats like cakes, candies, and cookies
Fruits, low-fat yogurt, and treats made with less sugar
Chips, crackers, french fries, and other fried treats
Baked chips, air-popped popcorn, and whole-grain crackers
Breads made with refined flour such as white, sourdough, and ciabatta breads
Breads made with whole grains: whole wheat, rye, and sprouted wheat (They have lots of fiber.)
High-fat salad dressings
Low-fat or yogurt-based salad dressings
Choose foods that have lots of nutrients. Look for foods that are high in:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Current as ofJuly 26, 2016
Current as of:
July 26, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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