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A Better Way to Look at Food

By Len Canter
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 8, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- A "low-energy-dense food diet" sounds like just another weight loss fad, but it's an approach with decades of research behind it.

The concept is simple: Eat more foods with a higher water content to get more volume for fewer calories.

Energy density is simply the amount of energy -- or calories -- in a gram of a food. Foods can be very low-, low-, medium- or high-energy density.

Butter, for instance, is a high-density food with 180 calories in 20 grams. Watermelon is very low, with just 7 calories in 20 grams. Portion size is another way to see the difference. For example, one and a half juicy oranges have the same number of calories as a mere three pretzel rods.

To find a food's energy density, divide the number of calories in a serving by the number of grams in that serving. Energy density ranges in the very low category are from 0.5 to 1 calorie/gram. As you move to the high end, it's from 4 to 9 calories per gram.

You can easily calculate the energy density of any food. Use a calorie counter to do the math for fresh foods. For packaged ones, use the Nutrition Facts Panel and divide the calories by the grams in a portion.

Low-energy density foods are usually high in fiber as well as water, so they're filling. That's one reason why replacing high-energy density foods with low ones to reduce calories is more effective than just cutting portion sizes, which can leave you feeling deprived. Eating low-energy density foods works equally well for weight loss and weight maintenance.

In recipes, making the switchover can be as simple as adding more non-starchy vegetables in place of starchy ones, and some of the meat. Rather than eating sandwiches, replace the bread with leafy greens by putting the sandwich fillings into a big salad. When eating grains, choose foods like oatmeal and quinoa that increase in volume when cooked in water -- they're a lot more filling than dry cereal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has much more on the energy density of foods and tips to make substitutions.

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=740461

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Water
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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