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Empty-Calorie Foods Have Real Empty Promises

Take a look at the problem of empty-calorie foods…

Overweight Guy Being Chased by ColaEmpty-calorie foods are foods which contain significantly more calories than nutrients. They’re also referred to as energy-dense foods, providing unnecessary energy with few or zero nutrients. It’s fairly obvious that consuming these foods can lead to weight problems and poor health.


In fact this includes almost everything inside that vending machine at work you love so dearly. Do chips, soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweets and chocolate sound familiar during break time and lunch?

Empty-calorie foods have negative effects on your health. Let’s analyse a specific case. Let’s compare empty-calories obtained from liquids (drinks) with nutrient-dense calories from a piece of fresh fruit like an orange.

Soft drinks Energy drinks Fruit juice Raw fruit
Soft Drinks Energy Drinks Fruit Juice Raw Fruit
Total sugar content A can of Classic Coca-Cola (355ml) contains 39g of sugar (equivalent to 156 calories from sugar) A can of Monster Energy Drink (473ml) contains around 54g of sugar (216 calories from sugar) A bottle of Just Juice orange juice with stevia (350ml) contains 13.3g of sugar (53 calories from sugar) An orange provides 17.56g of sugar (70 calories from sugar)
Types of sugar Table sugar/sucrose (1 glucose + 1 fructose) or may contain HFCS* Table sugar/sucrose (1 glucose + 1 fructose) or may contain HFCS* Sucrose, fructose, glucose. May have added sucrose or HFCS* Sucrose, fructose, glucose
Fibre content None None Very minimal Plenty
Effect on insulin secretion Increases insulin secretion
Causes insulin to spike
Increases insulin secretion
Causes insulin to spike
Minimal insulin secretion
Small insulin spike (unless it has a lot of added sugar)
Minimal insulin secretion, no spike
(fibre slows absorption of fruit sugars)
Effect on the liver Promotes fatty liver – sudden flood of fructose is a toxin to the liver. Promotes fatty liver – sudden flood of fructose is a toxin to the liver. Promotes fatty liver – sudden flood of fructose is a toxin to the liver. Fibre means no sudden flood of fructose on the liver
Nutritional value None None Low – processing  destroys much of the nutrients High – abundant in vitamins, fibre and antioxidants
Special Notes Many contain high levels of caffeine.
Side effects may be experienced with over 400 mg of caffeine.
1 cup coffee = about 100 mg of caffeine.

*HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup (is roughly ½ fructose and ½ glucose depending on the brand used).

Can you spot what’s wrong with the empty-calorie foods on the table? By the way, why did we choose empty-calorie drinks (fluids) instead of empty-calorie solid foods?

I’ll leave you to answer the first question. In answer to the second question, empty-calories from drinks have a significant impact on your weight. With the abundance of empty-calorie drinks available today, its easy to lose sight of healthy options like water in favour of lousy, delicious choices. If you want or need more calories, better not get them from fluids, try “real” food.

Girl with Healthy FoodSugary drinks don’t have the same bulking effect on the stomach as solid food does. This means that they don’t cause the same amount of appetite suppression as regular food. So of course you go on to eat a big lunch, even after you have downed a 1.5 ltr coke. See the problem?

Bottom line? Water is still the best choice of beverage and it contains no calories. If you’re craving the sweetness of soft drinks, eat an orange or an apple WITH your water. Problem solved.

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