A Low Energy Density Diet Helps Weight Loss

Why can you eat pounds of salad and lose weight when pounds of burgers pack the weight on? It’s all about the energy.

This video was originally published on NutritionFacts.org and was republished with permission. NutritionFacts.org

When most people think of weight loss, the “loss” usually has too strong a connotation. They assume that reducing weight means reducing portion size and how much food they can eat. That’s why it comes as a surprise to so many that studies have shown adding a few apples or pears to your daily diet will promote weight loss. The added fiber feeds gut bacteria which in turn make anti-obesity compounds.

But that’s not the whole story. Further studies put the equivalent amount of fiber as the fruit into cookies and found that the added fiber did nothing for the weight loss. If it wasn’t the fiber, then what was it? The answer: energy density. When we’re hungry, we tend to eat based on weight. Our stomachs are accustomed to trigger the “I’m full” signal to your brain when you eat a particular amount of food and expand the stomach. So it goes back to what it always goes back to – what you choose to fill it with.

Certain foods like hamburgers, fries, or sugary pastries are very high in calories per weight. On the other hand, celery is mostly water and fiber, so nutritionally it is not as dense, which is why it takes so much of it to fill you up. That’s why it’s easy to start small. If you just begin just adding those few pieces of fruit to your normal diet, you’ll notice a small change, but start making plant based food a normal part of your diet and you’ll notice a correlation. The more plants you eat, the more weight you’ll lose. Energy density is the reason you can eat pounds of plants and still lose weight while a single daily hamburger can give you a gut.

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