Fake food facts

Why counting empty calories is a waste of time

Why counting empty calories is a waste of time


Do you have food cravings? Does it seem like you are always hungry? Does food dominate your thoughts most of your waking moments? Are you a serial dieter, forever fighting a weight war? If this describes your experience and how you feel I’m willing to bet that a lot of the food you eat is low fat, sugar free or heavily processed. I’ve come to a point where I question whether a lot of these products really are food.

Can we ever feel full eating empty calories?

There are lots of products designed to be tasty and ‘moreish’, so no wonder it’s hard to not finish that jumbo bag. But these foods that never quite satisfy, leaving us craving more, are at best useless in providing our bodies with nutrition, while at worst they load us up with substances that will make us fat and sick.

Filled with empty calories, this is a measurement of the digestible energy present in high-energy foods with poor nutritional values, as most of the energy comes from processed refined carbohydrates, fats and sugars. An empty calorie, although the same energy content as other calories, lacks nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, minerals and dietary fibre. If such products dominate our diet, we are cheating our body and brain out of the nourishment needed daily to function correctly.

The ‘food’ that fills but never quite satisfies

Empty calories mostly come from solid fats and/or added sugar.

Products loaded with unhealthy fats include:

  • Those full of trans-fats, such as chips, deep-fried chicken, crisps, burgers
  • Fast/Junk foods are one of the biggest traps of unhealthy fats

Products that contribute added sugar empty calories include:

  • Fizzy drinks, sodas, fruit juice drinks and sweetened beverages
  • Cakes, biscuits, pies and pastries
  • Sweets
  • Ice creams and frozen yogurts
  • Breakfast/cereal bars

Other products high in empty calories include refined grains such as crackers, biscuits, white rice and white bread.

“Man is what he eats”

The German philosopher Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach made this observation some 150 years ago. It turns out the microbial world we are now discovering bares out his philosophical observation even more than he could have imagined. What we eat and how it is prepared has an incredible impact on our state of mind and health on a daily basis, with an even larger cumulative effect over time. Real Food is food with minimal processing and refining, maximising nutrition from natural ingredients rather than artificial substances. It’s eating simply, simply eating.

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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