Would you like to eat more and weigh less? I think everyone would say “absolutely” to that one!
Energy density is defined as the amount of energy per unit weight of food. Foods high in water and fiber are usually lower in energy density, while foods high in fat are higher in energy density. An example of this is shown in the diagram below.
Yes, you can in fact cut your calories per day by HALF without cutting down your portion size, simply by substituting high energy density foods to low energy density foods. For example, swapping foods like meat and processed sugars with fruits and vegetables.
This works because the combination of water, fiber and high vitamin content in plant-based whole foods that are low in caloric density, tend to fill you up quicker helping you to stay satiated.
Our gut bacteria actually creates anti-obesity compounds from fiber which helps with management of weight/losing weight. The diagram below gives you another example.
As you can see, the fruits and vegetables have filled the entire stomach which signals the natural hunger-satiety mechanisms in the body (the stomach stretch receptors) to let the brain know you’re full. With the meat you’ve eaten the same amount of calories, but your stomach isn’t even half full, which means it is easier to overeat.
By eating for calorie density you are also increasing the overall nutrient density of your diet (going by the assumption you are eating healthy, low density foods of course) giving you concentrated amounts of valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids and phytonutrients, to name a few.
Example of a low calorie, energy density meal
Start off with 2-3 pieces of fruit. Then take a large plate and fill half of it with salad including raw and/or cooked vegetables, a little avocado, and a lemon juice or apple cider vinegar dressing. Fill the rest of the plate with steamed vegetables and rice or legumes. Add a side bowl of potato wedges baked without oil and salt and served with a homemade spicy tomato sauce.
I don’t believe in eating a restricted diet, and calorie density allows you to eat freely of unprocessed fruits and vegetables without the added oil and salt.
I believe eating for calorie density is a great way to go if you’re looking to optimise your overall nutrient intake, lose and/or manage your ideal weight, and eat more so that you feel very satiated.