Have you ever go on a diet to lose weight, but you are hungry all the time and have no energy. What if I tell you that you can eat more food to weight less, does that sound too good to be true? Well, it is possible to eat more to weight less if you are smart at choosing what to eat.
First, to know what kind of food you should eat, you need to know about calorie density. Calorie density is simply a measure of how many calories are in a given weight of the food. People often asked if a calorie is just a calorie. In a lab, maybe, but in reality, the same amount of calories in different food have a different effect. For example:
How do you think you would feel after you eat three pieces of bacon compared to eating 5 cups of broccoli? Which one would be fuller?
So a food that’s high in calorie density has a large number of calories in a small weight of food like the bacon in the example, whereas food that’s low in calorie density has much fewer calories in the same weight of food like the broccoli in the example. Therefore you will get more satiety with low-calorie density food for the same amount of calories.
Generally, people typically eat a similar amount of food every, by weight. Research has shown that people can eat freely from foods that are 300 calories per pound or less and not gain weight. Therefore, by eating foods with a lower calorie density, you can eat the usual amount of food or more while reducing your caloric intake.
As you can see from the calorie density table below, most of the low-calorie density foods are fruits and vegetables, and most of the high-calorie density food is processed food and animal products. So if you were going to eat only the top green part, basically you are eating the whole food plant-based diet. I am not saying that you should adapt the whole food plant-based lifestyle, but it is the evidenced-based diet that has been proven that it will improve your health, reverse chronic diseases, and help you lose weight.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the whole food plant-based diet, you can read about it here. There’s also an excellent app called 21-Day Vegan Kickstart that provides you with meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, and videos to help you start your plant-based diet journey. One of the dishes from the app is the portobello burger. When you compare the calorie of portobello burger to a whopper, you can see that by replacing high-calorie density ingredients with low density one, you can eat a lot more food and yet consume fewer calories.
If you don’t want to go all-out whole food plant-based diet route, here are some tips on how calorie density can help you with your weight loss journey.
Start adding low-calorie density food
You can start by slowly adding more low-calorie density food (fruits, veggies, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains and legumes) to your daily meal and cutting down on oil, sugar, process food, and animal products. Then start increasing the low-calorie density food while trying to reduce high-calorie density food as time goes by. You should begin to see your weight falling off.
Preloading your meal
Research shows that if you start your meal with a big bowl of salad, fruits, or vegetable soup, you will consume fewer calories in total compared with eating just the main meal.
Don’t starve yourself
Eat when you’re hungry, don’t starve yourself. Snack on low-calorie density food like fruits and vegetables, so when it’s come to dinner time, you won’t eat as much.
Avoid liquid calorie
Try to consume food in its original form. By liquefying them, it won’t fill you up as much as eating them whole.
Stay away from high-calorie density food
Limit (or avoid) foods that are high in calorie density, primarily process food and fat/oil. As you can see in the calorie density table, butter and oil have the highest calorie density.
If you follow the above tips, you should be able to lose or manage your weight without feeling tired or hungry. At the same time, you will be improving your overall health.