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“Empty calories” are those that come from added sugars and solid fats, as well as some processed oils. These include: carbohydrate-based desserts, such as cakes, cookies, biscuits, donuts, muffins, granola bars, and more. Sugary drinks, including soda, energy drinks, and fruit juice are included in this list as well.  White rice is a carbohydrate and staple of many diets around the world but unfortunately there are not many nutrients in white rice making this a kind of “empty calorie” food as well.

Although not completely “empty” of good nutrients, some food sources tout their “fortified” status with minerals, vitamins and/or other nutrients.   Some example are “fortified” breakfast cereals that advertise their added vitamins and fiber as well as sports/energy drinks that boast their content of electrolytes, vitamins and caffeine for energy.  However, when this slick marketing is peeled away, what is left are pretty much empty calorie food and drinks.

Remember that for those foods/drinks claiming a certain % of the US Daily Requirements of vitamins, we can all obtain 100% of these recommended daily intakes by simply taking a zero calorie multivitamin pill.

During your long-term weight control journey, take a step back and see what role “empty calorie” food and drinks are playing in your dietary intake.  Step into your pantry and see if chips, cookies, muffins and similar high caloric/little-value sources are present.  If so, take out the garbage bag and empty that pantry and your refrigerator of those empty calories.   Make foods and drinks earn their presence In your life by providing “valuable calories”.