Calorie Density — How to Lose Weight Eating More Food

What is calorie density?

Calorie density is a measure of the calorie content of food relative to its weight or volume.

It is also called energy density and is usually measured as calories per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of food.

Choosing foods with a low calorie density can help with weight loss. It makes you automatically eat fewer calories while still eating large and filling portions (5Trusted Source6).

An easier way to make sense of this is to imagine a full plate of food. The fewer calories the plate contains, the lower the calorie density of the meal.

A vegetable with 30 calories per 100 grams has a low calorie density, while chocolate that has 550 calories per 100 grams has a very high calorie density.

Although calorie density may be less well known than other weight management concepts like calorie counting, choosing foods based on this measure may be simpler and more effective (7Trusted Source).

For example, basing your diet on low-calorie-density foods tends to limit you to predominantly healthy and nutrient-rich whole foods.

It can quickly clean up your diet, eliminating most calorie-dense, processed foods that are generally unhealthy and easy to overeat.

SUMMARY“Calorie density” refers to the number of calories per weight or volume of food. It’s a very simple, effective method to improve your diet.

How does calorie density affect weight?

Eating too many calories is a key factor in weight gain (89Trusted Source).

Several studies have shown that individuals who consume low-calorie-density diets also eat fewer total calories per day. This is linked to a lower body weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source).

Accordingly, studies reveal that those whose diets comprise mostly high-calorie-density foods have an increased risk of weight gain and obesity (11Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

Calorie density also affects hunger.

Low-calorie-density foods tend to provide less fat and more water and fiber. This is great for making you feel full and reducing your daily calorie intake (13Trusted Source).

In contrast, many calorie-dense foods are highly processed and extremely palatable, making them easy to overeat.

Research indicates that whole foods tell your brain to stop eating, while this effect is delayed when you eat highly processed foods (14Trusted Source15Trusted Source).

In one study, participants ate 56% more calories when provided a high-energy-density meal, compared with a low-energy-density one (2Trusted Source).

Another study compared calorie intake for high- and low-calorie-density meals that were matched for palatability and macronutrients.

People ate an average of 425 more calories when given the calorie-dense meal than when given the low-calorie-density one (3Trusted Source).

SUMMARYResearch has linked people’s intake of high-calorie-density foods to weight gain and obesity. Those who eat more low-calorie-density foods tend to eat fewer calories and have a lower body weight.

A low-calorie-density diet helps you lose weight

A low-calorie-dense diet may aid weight loss.

It focuses on whole foods and limits your intake of processed foods, naturally increasing your intake of protein, vegetables, and fruit.

All of these foods have been shown to aid weight loss by reducing total calorie intake per meal or per day (16Trusted Source17Trusted Source).

A low-calorie-density diet can lessen hunger since your stomach senses the volume of food you have consumed in a meal.

A low-calorie-density meal also fills your plate. This helps your meal last longer and forces you to chew more, further increasing your feelings of fullness (13Trusted Source).

In one study, participants lost an average of 17 pounds (7.7 kg) after they switched their high-calorie-density fats to low-calorie-density fruits and vegetables for 1 year (4Trusted Source).

Finally, results from an observational study found that adults who consumed lower-calorie-dense diets had significantly lower measurements of waist circumference and BMI after five years (10Trusted Source).

SUMMARYResearch has shown that a low-calorie-density diet can be a great method to lose weight and improve your general eating habits.

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