October 2, 2013 by thehealthyheartcenter
Don’t let the title conceive you; portion control is a beneficial strategy when it comes to losing weight. However, this is not the only method. Have you ever heard a calorie is a calorie? What you may not realize is that by choosing less caloric dense foods you can eat more and still consume the same amount of calories.
How does this work?
Research has shown that people feel full based on the amount of food they are consuming rather than how many calories they are consuming. Energy density is the relationship of calories to the weight of food. Foods with high energy density have about 4-9 calories per gram of food. Foods with low energy density on the other hand have only .7-1.5 calories per gram of food. For the same amount of calories people can eat more of low energy dense foods than of high-energy dense foods. This allows people to consume fewer calories while still feeling full.
You still want to eat your favorite foods and you still can! By making easy substitutions in recipes such as using non-fat milk instead of whole milk cuts the calories while using the same amount. Another good strategy is adding fruits and veggies to bulk up the meal. It can be hard to achieve the recommendations of fruits and veggies per day and this is a great way to get them in. For example, when making macaroni and cheese (with fat-free milk) you can add some of your favorite vegetables like tomatoes and broccoli. Typically foods with more fiber and water content make you feel full while providing a small amount of calories.
The following is a list of low-energy dense foods that you can add to your meal:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fat-free milk & milk products such as cheese and yogurt
- Whole grains – brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, popcorn
- Legumes – black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, green peas
- Lean meats – salmon, chicken breast w/o the skin
- Foods low in fat, saturated fat, added sugars, cholesterol, sodium
Limit the following high-energy dense foods:
- Fried foods
- Fatty meats such as bacon, ground beef
- Full fat milk products
- Dry snack foods – chips, cookies, crackers
- Foods with high fat and sugar such as butter, doughnuts, cakes, etc.
Beverages also don’t help you feel full even when they have a lot of calories. Try to choose beverages with a low amount of calories such as water, fat-free milk, or unsweetened iced tea. And there you have it, no more trying to manage weight by feeling hungry all the time!
Sources: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/Energy_Density.pdf, http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/pdf/rtp_practitioner_10_07.pdf