Empty calories only provide energy but very little nutritional value. The parts of food that provide empty calories contain virtually no dietary fiber, amino acids, antioxidants, dietary minerals, or vitamins.
Empty calories come mainly from solid fats and added sugars.
- Solid fats: Although these exist naturally in many foods, they are often added during industrial food processing, as well as during the preparation of certain foods. Butter is an example of such solid fat with empty calories, except it’s the fortified variant.
- Added sugars: These are sweeteners that are added to foods and beverages during industrial processing. They are filled with calories. The most common types of added sugars are sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.
Added sugars and solid fats are said to make foods and drinks more enjoyable. However, they also add many calories and are major contributors to obesity.
Alcohol can also contribute empty calories to the diet. One normal serving of beer can add 153 kcal to a person’s intake for the day.