The term “empty calories” does not mean “zero calories”.

What Are Empty Calories?

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

2 min read

In the UK we sometimes refer to snacks as empty calories.

Don’t be fooled by this expression; it doesn’t mean these snacks are calorie-free.

Instead, this term is used to describe foods which aren’t very filling.

For instance, somebody might describe a packet of crisps or a bar of chocolate as “just empty calories”, because the person who eats them will not feel satisfied for very long before they feel hungry again. Juice and soda also fall into this category.

As an example, a can of Coca-Cola provides 210 calories but it will do a very poor job of curbing your appetite. By comparison, if you ate a bowl of porridge oats you’d spend a similar number of calories but would feel full for a couple of hours.

All of these foods and drinks have one thing in common; their primary ingredient is sugar.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have these, by the way. I believe that there is nothing wrong with consuming these snacks provided you are able to fit them into your daily targets and stick to your plan. Heck, I’ve personally found that most of my PT clients (and website users) actually see better long-term results from their diet when they make room for these little treats, as opposed to trying to cut them out entirely.

However, it’s worth noting that the pitfall of these “empty calories” is that it becomes very easy to over-eat (because they’re not filing), so it’s up to you to keep them in check!



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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

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