You may often wonder how you can eat more, not to gain fat, but to lose weight.
The answer is simple: calorie density.
It is used to describe the number of calories in a given volume or weight of food.
Understanding how it works can help you lose more weight and improve your diet. And what’s more, focusing on low-calorie-dense foods allows you to eat a large volume of food while still cutting back on calories.
What Is Calorie Density
Calorie density is a measure of the calorie content of food relative to its weight or volume.It is also called energy density, and is usually measured as calories per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of food.
Choosing foods with a low calorie density can help you lose weight. It makes you automatically eat fewer calories while still eating large and filling portions.
An easier way to make sense of this is to imagine a full plate of food. The fewer calories the plate contains, the lower the calorie density of the meal is.
For example: a vegetable that contains 30 calories per 100 grams has a low calorie density, while chocolate that contains 500-550 calories per 100 grams has a very high calorie density.
How Counting Calories Affects Weight
Eating too many calories is a key factor in gaining weight.
Several studies have shown that individuals who consume low-calorie-dense diets, also consume fewer total calories per day.
This is also linked with a lower body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.
Accordingly, studies have shown that those who consume diets made up of high-calorie-dense foods have an increased risk of weight gain and obesity.
Low-calorie-dense foods tend to contain more water and fiber, along with less fat. This is great for making you feel full and well fed, and reducing daily calorie consumption making you lose weight.
In contrast, many high-calorie-dense foods are highly processed and extremely palatable. As you may know, they are very easy to be overeaten.
Research shows that, natural whole foods help signal your brain to stop eating, while this effect is delayed when you eat highly processed foods.
Low Calorie Dense Can Help In Losing Weight
A low-calorie-dense diet is perfect for several reasons.
- It focuses on natural, whole foods and limits your intake of processed foods.This is normally combined with an increased intake of protein, vegetables and fruit. All of these have been shown to aid weight loss by reducing total calorie intake per meal or per day.
- A low-calorie-dense diet can help with hunger, since your stomach senses the volume of food you have consumed in a meal.
- A low-calorie-dense meal also fills your plate. This helps make your meal last longer and forces you to chew more, further increasing your feelings of fullness
Improves Your Health
A low-calorie-dense diet forces you to overhaul your diet and make many positive changes. All of these changes benefit your long-term health.
A low-calorie-dense diet includes:
- Less processed food: Your intake of processed, unhealthy food will be reduced
- More nutrients: A low-calorie-dense diet encourages you to consume more micro-nutrient and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
- A well-balanced, sustainable diet: This way of eating teaches you to focus on healthier, low-calorie foods while not forcing you totally to eliminate other foods or food groups forever
- Reduced calorie intake: Reducing your calorie intake and losing weight is one of the best ways to improve your health if you’re overweight
- More healthy food: You will eat more low-calorie and highly nutritious foods
- More lean proteins: These can help with weight loss and have several other benefits
Foods That Have A Low Calorie Density
- Vegetables: Vegetables have a very low calorie density. Most green vegetables have the lowest calories out of all foods. This is because they are primarily made up of water, fiber and a very small amount of carbs.
- Fruits: These have a low calorie density because of their high fiber and water content. Berries and other watery fruits tend to have the lowest density.
- Meat and fish: Lean proteins like chicken, white fish and turkey have a low calorie density, yet fattier meats and fish have moderate-to-high calorie density.
- Milk and yogurt: Reduced-fat milk and yogurts with no added sugar also have a low calorie density and provide a good source of protein.
- Eggs: Whole eggs are a protein-packed superfood with a low calorie density, especially when combined with vegetables into meals such as omelets.
- Sugar-free drinks: Beverages such as water, coffee, tea and other sugar-free drinks technically have a low calorie density and can help keep you full.
- Starchy carbs: Some natural starchy carbs like potatoes, legumes and other root vegetables can have a low-to-moderate calorie density. This is especially true once they’re cooked, since they fill with water.
Limit Your High Density Foods Intake To Lose Weight
If you want to try this approach and base your food selection on calorie density, you will need to limit your intake of foods with high calorie density.
Here are a few key foods you’ll want to limit:
- Candy and chips: Candy and chips tend to be high in sugar and fat, making them very calorie-dense and very easy to overeat.
- Fast foods: These are some of the most calorie-dense food on the planet. Studies show an average fast food meal contains around twice the calories of a normal, healthy meal.
- Pastries and cakes: Candies, pastries and cakes are very calorie-dense and easy to overeat.
- Oils: While certain oils are healthy such as coconut and olive oil, they still have a very high calorie density. Avoid all processed vegetable oils and consume healthy oils in moderation.
- Fatty meats: Some fatty meats have a very high energy density. This includes bacon, sausages, lamb, fatty beef cuts and several others.
- High-fat dairy: Although they may have health benefits, foods like butter, cream and cheese have very high calorie densities. Consume them in moderation.
- High-fat condiments: Some sauces and sides, such as mayonnaise, pesto and ranch dressing, are very high in calories and should mostly be avoided.
- Nuts: Like other healthy fat sources, nuts are very calorie-dense. While they do have many health benefits, they are easy to overeat. Try measuring out your portions before you eat them.
- Sugary drinks: Soda, juice, commercial high-sugar smoothies and milkshakes are high in empty calories and should be avoided as much as possible.
If you are trying to lose weight, you should definitely have to limit your intake of most foods with high calorie density, or you can use some natural high-fat foods that are healthy, but should be consumed in small quantities.
Basing on 90% of your intake on foods with a low calorie density, you can easily reduce calorie intake and lose weight with little effort.
Monitoring and calculating what you eat is the best way to start losing weight.
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