Choosing lower-calorie foods, meaning a larger portion with fewer calories, can help you lose weight and control hunger.
Feeling full with fewer calories? It may sound like another weight loss trick, but it’s not. The concept of energy density can actually help with weight loss. In fact, well-planned weight loss diets, like the Mayo Clinic diet, use the concept of energy density to help you lose weight and keep it off long-term.
Lose weight by eating more and eating fewer calories
Simply put, energy density is the number of calories (energy) in a given amount of food. A high energy density means that there are many calories in a small amount of food. Low energy density means that a large amount of food is low in calories. If you want to lose weight, one strategy is to eat foods that are low in energy density. In other words, you want to eat more foods that contain fewer calories. This helps you feel fuller with fewer calories.
Here’s a quick example using raisins and grapes. Raisins have a high energy density, 1 cup of raisins contains about 480 calories. Grapes have a low energy density, 1 cup of grapes contains about 104 calories.
The keys to energy density and weight loss
Three main factors play a role in whether a food is high or low in energy density:
Fruits and vegetables are generally high in water and fiber, which add bulk and weight but not calories. Because of this, they are low-energy-density foods. Grapefruit, for example, is about 90% water. Half a grapefruit contains only 64 calories. Fresh, raw carrots are about 88% water. A medium-sized carrot contains only about 25 calories.
High-fiber foods not only add bulk, but they also take longer to digest, so you’ll feel fuller for longer with fewer calories. Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains all contain fiber. Popcorn is a good example of a high-volume, low-calorie whole grain. A cup of open popcorn contains about 30 calories.
Fats have a high energy density. For example, a butter waffle contains almost the same number of calories as 2 cups of raw broccoli. Foods that naturally contain fat, such as B. Various types of meat or foods that have added fat have more calories than their leaner or lower-fat counterparts.
Changing your lifestyle is never easy. And creating a nutrition plan based on the concept of energy density is no exception. The first step is to know which foods are the best choices in terms of energy density.
Here is an overview of the energy density of certain foods
Most vegetables are very low in calories but high in volume or weight. Most vegetables contain water and fiber, which allows for weight gain without calories. Here are some examples:
To add more veggies to your diet, top your pasta with sautéed veggies instead of meat or cheese sauce. Reduce the amount of meat on your plate and increase the number of vegetables. Add veggies to your sandwiches. Snack on raw vegetables.
Almost all types of fruit are part of a healthy diet. But some fruits are lower in calories than others. Fresh, frozen, and whole canned fruit without syrup are good options. In contrast, fruit juices and dried fruits are concentrated natural sources of sugar and therefore have a high energy density, more calories, and are less filling. To get more fruit into your diet, add blueberries to your morning cereal. Try mango or peach slices on whole-grain toast. Or add tangerine and peach slices to your salad. Store whole fruit in a prominent place in a bowl or in the fridge and eat whenever you like.
Many carbohydrates are grains or grain products like cereals, rice, bread, and pasta. Whole grains are the best option as they contain more fiber and other important nutrients. Emphasize whole grains by simply choosing whole grain options over refined grains, including foods made with sugar or white flour. Choose for example:
whole wheat bread
whole wheat pasta
Because many carbohydrates are more energy dense, be mindful of portion sizes.
proteins and dairy products
These are foods of plant and animal origin. The healthiest choices with the lowest energy density are high-protein, but low-fat and low-calorie foods, such as:
Beans, peas, and lentils, are also good sources of fiber.
Lean meat and poultry
Low-fat or fat-free dairy products
Although fats are high-energy foods, some fats are healthier than others. Include small amounts of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Nuts, seeds, and oils like olive, flax, and safflower contain healthy fats. Limit saturated fats and trans fats like butter.
Sweets, like fats, generally have a high energy density. Good candy options are those that are low in added fat and contain healthy ingredients, such as fruit, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. This can be, for example, fresh fruit with low-fat yogurt, a biscuit made from wholemeal flour or some dark chocolate. When it comes to sweets, care must be taken to ensure that the portion is small and the ingredients are healthy. Even a small piece of dark cholate can fit into a weight loss program.
Make energy density work for you
If you embrace the concept of energy density, you don’t need to starve or deprive yourself. By including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains in your diet, you can feel full with fewer calories. They can even afford to eat candy once in a while.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information is given replace the advice of a doctor.
Like our content?
Receive our latest publications directly in your mailbox every day free of charge
decrease calorie density