The Myth of the Empty Calorie

As a logically thinking person who has always been interested in both science and language, I was completely mystified by the phrase “empty calories” when I heard it for the first time. That doesn’t make any sense, I thought. Calories are not tangible items that can be either full or empty. Calories are energy. It is literally impossible for a food to consist of nothing but energy – what would that even look like, an edible beam of lightning?!

Obviously, I know what people are really trying to say when they use this phrase. They want to tell you that the snack you’re eating is lacking in nutritional value because it mostly contains sugar, fat or both and doesn’t have much else to offer. I have been told that “There are no nutrients in it that our bodies really need!”

Well … I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked, fat and carbohydrate were major nutrients that my body needed. The very fact that they’re in there means that the food does have nutritional value. I might go so far as to say that all food does, or else it wouldn’t be food! It is arguable whether or not you are worse off if you consume that carbohydrate in the form of sugar, but anyone except for the admittedly still alive no-carb crowd* would agree that we do need some of it.

The motivation behind labelling food in this manner is an ingrained belief that sugar and fat are bad for us and should only be consumed in small quantities, preferably together with other things. To be honest, I do have an inkling that I, myself, am in fact eating too much sugar and that this is bad for me. However, that’s not because I believe that the sugar itself is bad – it’s because I fear I’m not getting enough protein. I can easily tell that this is the case whenever I suddenly feel like eating a ton of eggs while that bar of chocolate over there looks totally icky. I also think that I should include more fiber in my diet, but again this is not related to anything else being bad.

Another important factor that can cause many of us to question the “healthiness” of a food is the amount of vitamins and minerals in it. Of course it is true that we need them, just like we need all of the major nutrients. There is no reason to insist that they be in every single meal that we eat, though – if you’ve already had your daily fill of vitamin C, for example, any additional vitamin C will simply go to waste. I understand the urge to take a “better safe than sorry” approach, but it will do no harm to stray from that occasionally. No matter how you turn it: Food that mostly consists of major nutrients is not useless.

*If you want to live off of animal products only and can arrange that with your conscience, go ahead. On the other hand I have also heard of poor individuals who tried this and became very ill, which clearly indicates that it is not an option for everyone.

Oops – and also, what?!

I’ve been offline for so long that two comments were stuck in the moderation queue for quite some time. My apologies. However, one of those two comments made my mind boggle a little:

I just visited your blog and have found it to be of a very high standard. I’m Erica, the marketing manager of, a dating site for BBW and BHM. We dedicate to provide better services for plus size people. Is it possible for us to be partners to achieve win-win cooperation?

Would you like to have your own BBW dating site? You can earn money if you have users registering at your site. We can set it up for you at no cost. Any interested in it?

Excuse me, the what now? Do marketing people even read the blogs they’re commenting on? First off, this is a very simple blog hosted on and I have no experience in programming whatsoever. It has so little content yet that you certainly can’t tell whether it’s going to be “of a very high standard” in the future or not, and couldn’t the fact that I have trouble keeping it updated regularly possibly indicate that I don’t have the time and energy to maintain another site on top of it?

That said, I am neither a BBW nor a BHM nor interested in dating sites and I do not even support the use of those acronyms. As some of my internet friends would say: FAIL.

Now, on to writing the post that I originally logged on for …


Isn’t it just terribly disappointing if you discover a particularly clever cartoonist on deviantART and spend half an hour happily browsing his gallery, only to happen across a fat joke among all the great works? The artist’s note contained an explanation that almost made me like the guy again, but then he ruined it in a reply to one of the comments. I’m not linking the piece because it’s more than two years old, in case you were wondering – and of course I also don’t want to send any traffic its way.

But it was not just that. Curious as I am, I checked to see if there were any newer comments and if he was still replying to them … which does not seem to be the case, but instead I discovered a very fresh rant from just two days ago, left by another great artist whom I’ve liked for several years, that was bursting with fat hate and all the usual stereotypes.

That’s right, the obesity stupidity epidemic has just ruined my day twice. A similar thing happened to me with a blog post by the author of a book I’m reading, but fortunately it was not quite clear from the context what was going on in his head at the time, so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

And that’s why I’m almost afraid to find out anything personal about writers, musicians and actors that I admire. That’s also part of why I never read interviews, but to be honest I have never been very interested in those anyway.

I’m not offended, I’m disappointed. I don’t want to be the Angry Politically Correct Person who leaves a comment only for the sake of complaining after two whole years. There’s a chance that I might reply to the other artist’s rant, though, since I know I’m not dealing with a troll but it was terribly offensive nonetheless.

Life as an open-minded person is hard sometimes.