How to Reduce Empty Calorie Foods


Avoid empty calories, that is, high-calorie foods and drinks with little nutritional value. MyPlate recommends we limit our intake of sugary drinks as well as the following sugar- and fat-laden items:

  • Cakes, cookies, pastries, and donuts. One slice of chocolate cake contains 77 percent empty calories.
  • Cheese. Switching from whole milk mozzarella cheese to nonfat mozzarella cheese saves you 76 empty calories per ounce.
  • Pizza. One slice of pepperoni pizza adds 139 empty calories to your meal.
  • Ice cream. More than 75 percent of the 275 calories in ice cream is empty calories.
  • Sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs. Adding a sausage link to your breakfast adds 96 empty calories.
  • Wine, beer, and all alcoholic beverages. A whopping 155 empty calories are consumed with every 12 fluid ounces of beer.
  • Refined grains, including crackers, cookies, and white rice. Switching to whole wheat versions can save you 25 fat-laden empty calories per serving.

Physical Activity

Strive to be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily, preferably with moderate to vigorous activity levels on most days. Physical activity does not mean you have to go to the gym, jog 3 miles a day, or hire a personal trainer. Any activity that gets your heart pumping counts, including gardening and other yard work, playing basketball, and dancing. MyPlate personalized plans offer recommendations for weekly physical activity.

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