Junk food is a term used to describe foods with little nutritional value. Foods that have a high sugar or salt content can also be described as junk food, as they may be harmful to health. Examples of junk foods include salty snacks, candy, many sugar laden desserts and fried fast food. These foods are low in vitamins, minerals and proteins. For this reason, the calories provided by them are often termed "empty calories".
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One 12oz can of a cola-type soda contains around 140 calories. If you drink two cans of soda daily, this equates to around 8,400 calories per month. One pound of body fat is equal to 3,500 calories, so in one month you would lose 2.4 lbs, by daily replacing two soda drinks with water. In addition, a 2003 study published by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that if you drink around four pints of water daily you will burn an extra 95 calories. Over a period of a month, this would reduce body fat by a further 9oz.
Most candy has a high-sugar content but provides little in the way of nutrients. An ounce or gummy candy has around 92 calories, but is completely void of fiber, vitamins and minerals. The fiber content of foods should be considered when you want to lose weight; fiber-rich foods help to keep you feeling full, and slow the absorption of fat. A piece of fruit, such as a pear, contains around the same calories as 1oz of gummy candy, but it also has 5.5g of dietary fiber. A regular-size candy bar weighing 1.6oz has about 210 calories, depending on the brand. If you opt for a piece of fruit instead of the candy bar, during one month you would not only lose around a pound of fat, you would also increase your mineral and vitamin intake considerably.
Pizza is a fast food that is widely eaten in the United States. Although it is not totally void of nutrients, a pizza purchased at a fast food outlet is likely to be extremely high in calories. According to the USDA nutrient database, a 14 inch pizza with cheese topping purchased from a pizza chain contains 2,390 calories. This is more than the daily recommended allowance for a moderately active woman. If you typically eat pizza twice a week and exchange it for a meal of grilled fish, a baked potato and a large salad, you will reduce your calorie intake by around 3,500 calories a week. This would result in approximately 4 lbs of fat loss every month.
A regular portion of French fries bought from a fast-food restaurant provides around 370 calories and 18g of fat. Although some dietary fat is essential to maintain a healthy body, it is better to consume healthy fats from plant sources, such as avocados, nuts and olives. By exchanging two portions of French fries for a side of green salad twice a week, you will reduce your calorie intake by about 600 calories. This equals approximately 9oz to 10oz of fat loss per month.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Fat Free Kitchen: What is a Junk Food?
- Calories Per Hour: What It Takes to Lose a Pound
- Ask Dr. Sears: Fantastic Fiber
- HealthCastle: What are Empty Calories?
- PubMed.gov: Water-Induced Thermogenesis, Boschmann M et al, Dec 2003
- Heart.org: Know Your Fats
- United States Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database
- Free Dieting: Calorie Calculator