If you have followed me for a while or watched my videos on youtube, you will know that I always recommend eating high volume, lower calorie plant foods to get more bang for your buck when looking at #veganweightloss
Calorie Density is simply a measure of how many calories are in a given weight of food (ex: calories per pound of food).
Foods HIGH in calorie density have a large amount of calories in a small weight of food. Foods LOW in calorie density have much fewer calories in the same weight of food. Meaning you can consume a larger portion of the low calorie dense food than the high calorie dense food for the same amount of calories. Think a pound of greens versus 1 tablespoon of olive oil. So choosing food with a lower calorie density allows us to consume our usual amount of daily food (or more) while reducing our caloric intake. Woo Hoo! That sounds like something to celebrate to me.
Another cool thing is that the foods lower in calorie density (veggies, fruits, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains, and legumes) also have a higher density of nutrients. So without even thinking about it, if you follow a diet lower in calorie density, you will automatically be consuming more nutrient dense foods.
So, how to practically add in low calorie dense foods to your day? Here's 3 simple ways:
1. Try having whole juicy fruits (like whole melon, grapes, oranges, or grapefruits) for breakfast. Start lunch and dinner with a big salad or vegetable based soup.
2. Fill half of your plate with in tact whole grains, starchy vegetables, or legumes and the other half with vegetables and/or fruit.
3. When in doubt, add veggies. Vegetables are the lowest in calorie density while fat and oil are the highest. Therefore adding veggies to your meal will always lowers the overall calorie density of a meal. Conversely, adding fats and oil will always raise the overall calorie density of a meal.
Other cool stuff about Calorie Density:
Research has shown the we can freely eat foods that are 300 calories per pound or less and not gain weight. What??!! And...we can consume larger portions of foods that are between 300 and 800 calories per pound and still lose weight or maintain weight depending on individual metabolisms and activity levels. Foods with a 800 to 1800 calorie density should be limited as these contribute to weight GAIN and interfere with weight loss efforts.
There are more specific calorie density scales you can find online, but here is simple Calorie Density Scale for you to refer to for a basic understanding of what I'm talking about:
FOODS CALORIES PER POUND
Vegetables 60 - 195
Fruit 140 - 420
Potatoes, Pasta, Rice, Barley, Sweet Potato, Corn, Hot Cereals 320 - 630
Beans and Legumes 600
Breads, Bagels, Muffins, Dried Fruits 9020 - 1360
Sugars (processed sugars, honey, molasses, agave, corn syrup, maple syrup) 1200 - 1800
Dry Cereal, Baked Chips, Fat Free Crackers, Pretzels, Popcorn 1480 - 1760
Nuts and Seeds 2400 - 3200
In conclusion, this is not necessarily a "diet" to follow, but a really easy way to quickly gauge what you are eating so you can have larger quantities of lower calorie foods to keep you full while helping you lose weight! That is something to be excited about!