Come on, admit it, we all do it. Every now and then we sneak to the refrigerator for a little indulgence. And what is worse, when we are at a party, we find ourselves grazing on the parties' little nibbles mindlessly. Whether we gravitate toward comfort food or a sip of our favorite brew, we can have a habit of working quite a few non-essential calories into our diets. These unnecessary treats are known typically as empty calories.
Empty calories are, as explained by nutritionist and One Minute Wellness Coach Deborah Enos, "calories that taste great but don't do anything to 'improve' your health. For example: soda has calories that will fill you up but it doesn't have any nutrients that your body can 'pull out' that will strengthen it or improve your health in anyway."
In terms of effecting your diet, "empty calories are common 'filler foods,'" says Enos, "meaning that they fill you up so that you may not end up choosing more nutritious foods. For example: you're eating at an Italian restaurant, the bread basket hits the table, and you slather three big slices with butter. You fill up on the bread and butter (empty calories) and then when your meal comes, you're too full to eat much of it. Empty calories end up replacing nutritious foods in your diet, which can leave your body in a nutritional deficit."
But what are some of the worst offenders out there? We checked out the USDA MyPlate guide to empty calories to determine the most common and most surprising sources of empty calories on the list. "There are quite a few bad offenders on this list," says Enos. "Soda makes the top of my list. The reason why? Liquid calories made with high-fructose corn syrup never really fill you up. Soda is something that should be avoided at all costs!"
Along with soda, items like Cheddar cheese and chocolate cake were among the ones to make the list. Enos suggests counting calories (in a mentally healthy way) with the help of downloadable apps for accuracy. To make sure that you stay on track with your health at your next party, check out our slideshow and don’t make the mistake of loading up on these empty-calorie foods.