Diabetes and Weight Loss: How To Feel Satisfied On Fewer Calories
Sometimes the difference between success and failure lies in the way we think about, and define things.
We might, for instance, have an easier time losing weight if we focus on eating foods that allow us to feel full on fewer calories. To do this, we have to choose foods according to their “energy density.”
The energy density of a food is the number of calories, or energy it provides. So, foods with high energy density have many calories, and those with low energy density have less calories:
- High energy density = many calories
- Low energy density = less calories
Focusing on energy density means we can lose weight by eating a large volume of low-energy-dense (LED) foods, and feel fuller on fewer calories.
Water, Fiber, Fat
What primarily makes a food high or low in energy density is its water, fiber, and fat content.
Since water is non-caloric, edibles that contain a lot of water - such as many fruits and vegetables - are LED foods. A half grapefruit, for example, has only 37 calories, as grapefruit is about 90 percent water. Fiber is another substance that adds volume to food, but does not increase its calorie content, and fiber slows digestion. So, eating high fiber fare not only helps us feel full, but to feel full longer.
Fat, not surprisingly, adds energy density to foods—just a small amount of food high in natural or added fat may contain a large amount of calories. A single pat of butter, for instance, has nearly the same calories as a couple cups of water and fiber rich raw broccoli.
In the light of energy density, it’s easy to see the wisdom of loading half our dinner plate with veggies such as asparagus, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, or green beans. By doing this we get a lot of fiber and waterlogged food volume to fill our tummy, without racking up too many calories.
Besides increasing our veggie intake, here are a few more tips for getting LED foods into our diet:
- Eat mostly whole fresh and frozen fruits, or fruit canned with juice instead of syrup. Limit intake of dried fruit and fruit juices since they are generally high in sugar, increasing their energy density.
- Eat more protein-rich foods that are also low in fat such as legumes (e.g., beans, lentils, peas), skinless white-meat poultry, fish, and lower fat dairy items.
- Choose bread, cereal, pasta, and rice products made from whole grains instead of refined or processed grains. Whole grain foods such as oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread have a higher fiber content and more nutritional value than their refined counterparts.
- Cook with healthy fats such as high quality olive or coconut oils. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of healthy fat, and contain many essential vitamins and minerals.
- Opt for sweets that are low in added fats and sugars, and contain some healthy ingredients, such as cookies made with whole grain flour and bits of dark chocolate.
The concept of energy density is helpful because it reduces calories without leaving us feeling deprived or hungry, and since many LED foods also have low-glycemic values, it may be an ideal diet focus for individuals with diabetes.
Source: Mayo Clinic