Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr
Original Image by jeffreyw via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

Solid Fats and Added Sugars (SoFAS) is the fancy word for empty calories. The question isn’t do you consume empty calories, cause we all do.  The real concern is how much and often do you consume SoFAS.  Approximately 35% of the American diet is due to SoFAS consumption, also considered as 800 calories for the day.

A common misperception is that all calories are the same, however, the concept and consumption of empty calories prove otherwise.  Empty calories derive from from SoFAS and do not possess and vitamin, mineral or nutritional value to one’s diet. Eating too many SoFAS can lead to tooth decay, weight gain, deficiency of nutrients and/or insufficient insulin production in the pancreas, which can lead to diabetes.

It’s evident it’s hard to say no to empty calories with many struggling with weight.  The top culprits of empty calories include grain desserts (i.e. cookies and cakes), pizza and soda. Solid fats come from saturated and trans fats that are solid at room temperature.  Added sugars are added during processing and/or prep. Added sugar has many names, so look out on the ingredient list on nutrition labels for: cane juice,anhydrous dextrose, fructose,maltose, fruit juice concentrate, fruit nectar, peach nectar, pear nectar, glucose, corn syrup solids, honey, glucose, syrup–corn, high-fructose corn, malt, maple or pancake, lactose, crystal dextrose, dextrin, sugar cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener and/or sugar–brown, invert, raw or white granulated.

Suggestions for limiting SoFAS intake:

Original Image by Comrade Foot via Flickr
Original Image by Comrade Foot via Flickr
  • Trim fat from meat
  • Replace sugary drinks with water
  • Opt for cooking with canola, vegetable, olive or coconut oil instead of solid fats, such as margarine, butter and/or shortening
  • Use fruit as a topping on oatmeal instead of brown sugar
  • Skip whole dairy products for low fat or skim
  • Instead of using honey or agave, mix fresh or frozen fruit with plain greek yogurt for a great snack and/or breakfast

There’s no specific numerical allotment of how many empty calories, aka discretionary calories one can eat, but with moderation and physical activity, a few empty calories won’t harm any one.Reading nutrition fact labels is key in discerning if product is SoFAS or not as well as being aware of what you’re eating on a regular basis.  Moderation is key!

Sources: Engaged Health Solutions

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