When it comes to weight-loss there are some very simple principles that can help you tremendously when you just understand them. One very important one is calorie density.
Let me explain in a tic.
Calorie density simply means that how many calories per 1 gram a specific food product contains. For example, cherries contain 0.5 calories per 1 gram. So 10 grams of cherries contain 5 kcal, 100 grams contain 50 kcal and so on.
Foods that are calorie dense contain lots of calories per 1 gram. The most calorie dense food is oil which contains 9 calories per 1 gram. That’s almost 20 times as much as cherries! This means that only one teaspoon of oil contains as many calories as 100 grams of cherries. Cherries are not calorie dense, in other words cherries are calorie dilute.
How does this help you? Well, think about the one teaspoon of oil. That’s a very small amount and you would easily consume that amount without even noticing it, especially if you use oil in frying your food. Just to fry your food you wouldn’t use only one teaspoon of oil, you would use three or even more. Then, you would have consumed 135 calories only in the form of frying oil.
To consume 135 kcal by eating cherries you would have to eat 270 grams of them. That’s already a noticeable amount. You could eat them as a snack even. But eating three teaspoons of oil? That’s only a very small sip and wouldn’t make you feel full at all.
Eating calorie dense foods does not take much volume in your stomach. It means that you can eat lots of calories without even noticing it. But when you eat calorie dilute foods they take much more volume in your stomach, making you feel full.
Foods which are calorie dense are those that contain lots of oil (or other fat). This means foods like nuts, meat and cheese but also foods that contain added oil like cake, muffins or fries. These foods contain lots of calories per 1 gram so they are very easy to overeat on because they don’t take as much volume in your stomach when compared to calorie dilute foods.
The least calorie dense foods are vegetables, berries, fruits, whole grains, potatoes and beans. It’s impossible to overeat on vegetables because you would have to eat them in such huge quantities that you just wouldn’t be able to do it. Three teaspoons of oil contain as many calories as a whole pound of broccoli! You can easily fill your stomach with these foods without consuming too many calories. They make you feel full on much less calories.
Here is a picture to illustrate that:
Here is another picture. Both meals contain 1575 calories. Notice how different they are? The one to the right contains much more stuff but still the calories are the same. So there’s much more to eat in the meal to the right.
Here are other illustrative pictures. Each plate contains 100 calories. Notice how just very small portions of nuts and pastries contain the same calories as huge piles of vegetables?
When eating only foods that are calorie dilute you minimaze your possibility to overeat. This means vegetables, berries, fruit, grains, potatoes etc. plant foods. This is what the plant-based diet for weight-loss is all about.
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