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Say ‘NO’ to Empty Calories – Embrace Healthy Snacking!

Dr. Lakshmi K

PhD in Food Science & Nutrition

3 min read

It’s that time of the day when you return home from a busy day’s work and tend to reach out for “snacks” or foods to satisfy UR hunger in a jiffy. But hold on to that thought. Snacking can de-route U from UR health goals. Let’s talk about snacking today. Most snacks U reach out for contain empty calories.

Say 'NO' to Empty Calories - Embrace Healthy Snacking!

The term empty calories apply to foods and beverages composed primarily or solely of sugar, fats or oils. It also includes salty snacks such as chips, samosas, and other fast foods. These snacks tend to supply food energy but contain very little or no nutrition in the form of good protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals or any essential amino & fatty acids.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises, “A small number of empty calories is okay, but most of us eat far more than something that is healthy.

It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

Say 'NO' to Empty Calories
Foods with empty calories that may lead to weight gain:
  • Sugar: Cake, cookies, sweets, candy, soft drinks, fruit-flavored sweet beverages (packaged juices) and other foods containing mostly added sugars (including High-fructose corn syrup)
  • Salt: All processed foods such as chips, fried snacks etc
  • Fat: Palm oil, butter, transfats and saturated fats
  • Alcohol: Beer, wine, hard spirits and other alcoholic beverages

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One review reports that for increase in consumption of added sugars, nutrients at most risk for inadequacy were vitamins A, C, E, and Magnesium.

The USDA advises the following levels of empty calorie consumption as an upper limit for individuals who engage in 30 minutes or less of moderate exercise daily.

Gender Age (years) Total daily calorie needs Daily limit for empty calories
Male 2–3 1000 135
4–8 1200–1400 120
9–13 1800 160
14–18 2200 265
19–30 2400 330
31–50 2200 265
51+ 2000 260
Female 2–3 1000 135
4–8 1200–1400 120
9–13 1600 120
14–18 1800 160
19–30 2000 260
31–50 1800 160
51+ 1600 120

Eating the right food at the right time is a secret to maintaining a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle.

Here’s a list of quick snacks that U can make after a tired day at work.

  • Sprout chaat (sprouts moong, grated carrot, cucumber, lemon, black pepper)
  • Makhana bhel (makhana, ½ tsp oil for roasting, grated carrots, beetroot, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, chilli powder)
  • Fistful mixed nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower-seeds, flaxseeds, watermelon seeds, walnuts, peanuts, almonds)
  • Oats kurmura-topped with sev and veggies
  • Peanuts roasted with kachumber salad
Post workout snacks

It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout. UR body tries to rebuild its lost glycogen stores and repair & regrow the muscle. The protein helps in rebuilding muscle and carbs help in recovery.

  • Multigrain toast with 1 tsp of almond butter/ peanut butter with a topping of 1 tbsp of mixed nuts.
  • Egg white sandwich with 2 multigrain bread
  • Paneer kati roll
  • Tofu frankie with jowar roti.
  • Smoothie – ½ apple, almond powder 1tsp, almond milk, ½ banana, 1 tbls spoon oats.
Kid friendly snacks
  • Banana nut smoothie (banana, dates, almond powder, milk or almond milk)
  • Dates ladoo
  • Cheese and egg sandwich
  • Mixed fruit salad with topping on almond shavings and walnuts.
  • Ragi malt

The above snacks are convenient, quick , and easy to make. We have put together healthy, nutritious, guilt free snacks that U can have even on a busy day. UR wholesome snack is just a few minutes away!