The food choices you make can help your diet or hinder it so there’s a need to eat smart. It’s not just a case of choosing low-calorie food options, you also need to go for high-volume foods. Such options can help you avoid hunger by making you feel fuller for longer.
When you choose low-calorie, high-volume foods it allows you to get away with slightly larger portion sizes without sending the scales in the wrong direction.
Eating fewer calories without having to put up with hunger?
It sounds like an impossible dream but it’s a dream that can come true with a little careful meal planning, though the level of benefit such planning can provide may vary from one person to the next.
Depending on how much you used to eat before you began dieting, and certain other factors, eating more high-volume, low-calorie foods may not entirely free you from hunger. However, even if you used to be a huge eater this type of meal planning will still reduce the level of hunger you feel.
What Is Energy Density (In Food)?
The term “energy density” refers to the amount of energy (measured in calories) food provides. Some foods, such as simple sugars and fats, have a high energy density. Other options such as broccoli and celery have a low energy density.
For instance, a (7g) teaspoon of sugar, provides 21 calories but a medium-size (40g) stick of celery only provides 6 calories.
Although the stick of celery is much larger and is nearly six times heavier than the spoon of honey, it provides three times fewer calories because celery has a lower energy density.
Let’s look at it another way.
Three (40g) stick of celery (7-8 inches long), provides a similar number of calories as a teaspoon of honey. Which option do you think will be best for helping to fill the stomach? Obviously, the answer has to be celery because it provides a lot more dietary fiber and bulk—it’s a high-volume food.
Celery Vs honey is an extreme example but, hopefully, it’s an example that will help you get a better understanding of the energy density and volume of food.
If you want to eat less and lose weight without having to deal with the torture of hunger, you need to focus on eating low-calorie, high volume foods. Needless to say, you also need to try and avoid high-energy, low-volume foods. Foods like that can help you to pack on the pounds faster than you can say gastric band surgery.
Energy Density In Food: A Look at the Factors Involved
Fruits and vegetables normally contain a high percentage of water and fiber without being overly energy-dense. Obviously, there are certain exceptions, and vegetables are generally less energy-dense than fruits. However, all that water and fiber helps keep the stomach feeling full.
A typical grapefruit, for instance, is around 88 percent water and a full fruit (123g) only provides 52 calories.
Now let’s take a look at another low calorie, high volume food. This time, well go with a vegetable instead.
Although you wouldn’t think of it to look at it, broccoli contains slightly more water than grapefruit. It’s around 90 percent water but it’s not so obvious because it contains so much more fiber.
A 100g of grapefruit flesh provides 1.6 g of dietary fiber but the same size serving of broccoli is contains 2.6 g of dietary fiber.
Foods that are high in fiber can be especially filling because all that fiber makes them more difficult to digest.
Popcorn is another low-calorie food that is good for making the stomach feel full.
That’s in its normal state. Adding syrup or butter will turn things around and turn a potential ally in your war against fat into an enemy fighting for the other side.
However, a cup of unadulterated, air-popped popcorn only provides around 30 calories and it’s so high in fiber it helps to keep your stomach feeling full. It’s also more nutritious than you may think. (Popcorn Nutrition Facts: A Healthy, Low-Calorie Snack?)
Fat has a high energy density. Each gram you eat provides nine calories. That’s more than double the calories you would get by eating a gram of protein or carbohydrate.
A single pat of peanut butter is so high in fat it provides around the same number of calories as you would get from eating a couple of cups of raw broccoli.
If you are serious about losing weight, you need to be very careful about eating foods that are high in fat.
If you limit the number of high-calorie, low-volume foods you eat, it will be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, if this causes the calorie deficit that’s necessary for fat-loss you could have a battle on your hands when hunger kicks in.
However, if you add more high-volume foods that are low in calories to your diet, it will help keep your stomach feeling full.
Apart from being filling foods that are low in calories, fruits, vegetables, are also a good source of vitamins and minerals. They also provide antioxidants. This is a winning combination that can boost immune function and make your body less susceptible to disease.
So, a few dietary tweaks could help you to lose weight and enable you to look good and feel good as well.
You don’t have to turn vegetarian though. If you want to lose weight without feeling hungry; chicken, pork, and other lean meats are good for suppressing the appetite too. Like fiber, they increase satiety because protein is hard to digest.