Prepping a meal? Know the difference between healthy and empty calories

Qatar Living
By Qatar Living

Camila Herrera, our go-to Nutritionist-Dietician here in Qatar, has more than 7 years’ experience in her field, including working with members of the royal family. With February as QL's Health and Wellness Month, we're focusing especially on keeping up a well-rounded lifestyle that's good for your body, mind and soul.

This week, we're focusing on the value of the calories in your food. A calorie is a unit of energy contained in food, so the more calories we eat, the more energy our body takes in.

Most processed foods like cookies, chips, candy and sugar-sweetened beverages are considered empty calories because they have little to no nutritional value, but contribute to excess calories and weight gain.

Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter, beef fat, and shortening. Some solid fats are found naturally in foods. They can also be added when foods are processed by food companies or when they are prepared.

Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added when foods or beverages are processed or prepared.

So, with all this information what we can conclude is that any processed food which has fat or sugar added is called an empty calorie food.

Here's a simple example to help you understand the difference between healthy and the empty calories:


- Think Healthy: I’m very thirsty, I'll drink a glass of water.

- Think Empty: I’m very thirsty, I'll drink a soft drink.


- Think Healthy: I will prepare myself juice with fresh oranges.

- Think Empty: I'll buy a processed orange juice in the  supermarket that isn't fresh.


- Think Healthy: I feel hungry, I will eat some fruits. 

- Think Empty: I feel hungry, I'll have some chocolate and ice cream.


- Think Healthy: I want a coffee, just black, no sugar, no milk.

- Think Empty: I want a coffee, with full fat milk, cream on the top and sugar.

Our bodies need vitamins, minerals and fiber to prevent diseases, allow a healthy weight and feel satisfied. If our diet consisted solely of soda, white bread and candy, we would constantly feel hungry. Highly processed foods are often over eaten because they have no fiber and do not bring a feeling of satiety.



AHP Nutritionist-Dietician

Camila Herrera is a Nutritionist-Dietician, with more than 7 years’ experience in her field. After she graduated in her birth place (Ecuador), as a Food Engineer she completed a Minor in Human Nutrition and started her career.

In 2012, she moved to Qatar and started to work as a Nutritionist, attending counselling diets for medical and no medical patients of any age.

After 3 years she started to work with the “Royal Family” as their personal Nutritionist (her biggest challenge) and in the present days, she is part of EMC (European Medical Center).

Additionally, Camila has her own web page
and is the co-founder of the “be well-health food” slogan.

“Having a medical problem is not an excuse to start gaining weight… you don’t need excuses, just learn how to eat well, your body will thank you."

Contact Camila


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