Calorie Density

One of the core concepts that I like to talk about when losing fat or maintaining a lean, healthy physique is the concept of calorie density. It vastly simplifies things as the complexities of trying to figure out what you should be eating.

Each food item has a certain amount of calories per pound. See diagram below, taken from Doug Lisle’s talk on The Pleasure Trap.

calorie density

If you eat food at the left side of the graph you get to eat a larger volume of tasty food than you do if you eat foods on the right side of the graph. Volume, or stomach stretching is an important component of feeling satiated. See diagram below, also taken from Doug Lisle’s talk on The Pleasure Trap. Someone noted that this photo may have originated from the book Eat to Live by Dr. Furhman.

So this would be salads, fruit, vegetables, legumes (beans) and whole grains (rice, quinoa). Things to be careful of, even as a plant-based eater is flour and anything higher – crackers, meat, dairy, nuts, oil.

Stomach fullness with calorie density

You can hopefully see from the picture that lower calorie dense foods fill up the stomach more than higher dense foods like oil and fatty foods. So the bottom line is that for a given amount of calories you can eat more lower calorie dense foods or less higher calorie dense foods.

Our bodies have an ability similar to animals (who don’t tend to be obese unless they live with humans) to detect the caloric content of whole foods, but when they are processed and higher in density it becomes more difficult.

We are also set up to seek high calorie foods and can get addicted to salt, sugar and fat. So a lot of the products that we see in the stores have just the right amount of these items to keep us hooked.

I’ve had a lot of success focusing on caloric density and satiety via starches so I recommend you check out The Starch Solution by Dr. McDougall, The Pleasure Trap by Doug Lisle and Calorie Density by Jeff Novick to fully grasp this concept.

Finally, an amazing benefit of this method aside from losing fat and getting healthy is that you don’t have to count calories anymore! This is incredibly freeing and a stress-free way to eat!

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