When you're working hard to lose weight, you might be spending plenty of your time at the gym using the cardio machines and lifting weights. Doing so is valuable, but you'll also need to be smart about your diet. Lowering your caloric intake is instrumental to losing weight, but you need to be smart about the calories you take in. Foods that are low or moderate in calories are valuable, but you need to be sure that you're not eating empty calories. This term describes food that contains calories but has very little nutritional value or none at all. When you're losing weight, you need to fuel your body with nutrients, so empty calorie foods should be on your "don't eat" list. Here are some things to know about empty calories.
Examples Of Empty Calories
Generally, foods considered to have empty calories are easy to identify — they're typically those that are highly unhealthy for you. Soft drinks, for example, have empty calories; these beverages contain calories but have no real nutritional benefit. Conversely, fruit juice may be high in calories — thus making you mostly avoid it when you're trying to lose weight — but it also contains vitamins and minerals. Candy, ice cream, baked goods, and other similar items are typically known as foods that offer empty calories.
Risks Of Empty Calories
One of the concerns about eating empty calories is that these foods are often high in sugar. This can be detrimental to your efforts to lose weight. When you consume sugar, especially if the sugary food isn't rich in fiber to slow the absorption of the sugar into your system, you'll have a dramatic blood sugar response. You may immediately feel energized, for example. However, your blood sugar will drop soon afterward, and this will make you feel tired and lethargic. In many cases, you'll begin to crave sugar to feel more energetic, which can cause you to overeat unhealthy foods and unnecessarily boost your caloric intake — all without giving your body valuable nutrients.
It's common to crave sweets when you're on a weight loss program, especially if you've stayed away from most sweet foods. If you're tempted to reach for something sweet, look for a nutrient-rich food that also offers sweetness. A piece of fresh fruit, for example, is perfect. Fruit isn't considered to have empty calories because of its nutrient-dense nature, and the fiber present in fruit will prevent the dramatic blood sugar response that you commonly get in empty calorie foods.