Step 3: Cut Out Empty Calories

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Step 3 – Cut Out Empty Calories


[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”style_1.png” align=”left”]Quick Summary:

Consume nutrient dense foods (i.e. foods with additional vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants – not just carbohydrates, protein, or fat) at each meal in order to promote health and weight goals

Empty calories should not be included in your everyday diet*

Empty calories from liquids are not detected well by the body’s satiety center and can lead to over-consumption (i.e. 200 calories from soda will not fill you up the same way that 200 calories from chicken, broccoli and olive oil will)

Research suggests that added sugars may also impair your antioxidant defense system

Slowly remove sugar-sweetened beverages by first replacing them with ‘diet’ versions, and eventually choosing unsweetened beverages

Read nutrition labels – even beverages/foods that you think are healthy may contain added sugars and calories

*’Splurge days’ are to be expected within reason, especially since complete elimination of certain foods or food groups may contribute to overeating which will prevent you from reaching your goals.

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What is a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage?
Most people automatically think of soda. What about iced tea, lemonade, sports drinks, energy drink? What about juice or sweetened milk alternatives? There is often a misconception that these beverages are ‘better for you’ when compared with soda. Even though certain iced teas may contain antioxidants and lemonade may appear to be more ‘natural’, the calorie and sugar content is very similar to soda and therefore, should not be a routine part of your diet. Sugar sweetened beverages are those that include caloric sweeteners (4 kcals per gram).

Change your Habits:
What we eat or drink, why we eat or drink, when we eat or drink, and how much we eat or drink, is largely driven by our habits. One of the major goals of this program is to help change your current habits so that you can improve your health. Cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages will not only cut out calories that are currently hindering your weight loss, but it will make more room for nutrient dense foods (think vegetables, unrefined grains, lean meats, fish, fruit, nuts, etc) that will contribute to your overall health.

Cutting out empty calories is often one of the first recommendations made by nutritionists, registered dietitians or other health care professionals when weight loss is warranted. However, for this program, I chose to first add in a nutrient dense snack and then try to help you to better understand the calories/portions that you typically eat before taking something away that you enjoy. However, the truth is that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to some level of addiction, and undermine your weight loss goals. Simply going ‘cold turkey’ may not be realistic for everyone so I have devised a step down plan to help wean you off of these added calories. Please see below for action steps to help eliminate these empty calories in a way that will minimize negative side effects.

Action Steps:
1. Identify sources of empty calories in your diet
2. Identify similar beverages or foods that can replace those empty calories
3. Start slow
1. Replace half of your sugar sweetened beverages with the diet version for one week
2. The following week, replace all sugar sweetened beverages with the diet version
3. The following week try replacing the diet version with unsweetened beverages

Additional Suggestions:

If you cannot replace 1 regular beverage with the diet version, consider a ‘half & half’ version (i.e. ½ regular iced tea mixed with ½ diet version twice a day)

If you are a juice lover, first make sure you are consuming 100% juice (switch if necessary). Next, cut the juice with water (or seltzer) so that you are still getting the flavor, but for less calories

Add or infuse (buy a fruit infused water bottle or pitcher) lemon or other fruits to water

Brew your own tea (hot or cold)



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