April 21, 2015

Eat More Weigh Less

Sound too good to be true?

You can eat more AND lose weight if you are dense, nutritionally dense that is.

Nutrient dense foods are packed full of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, and protein, but relatively few calories. Foods that provide little nutrition but lots of energy are called empty calorie foods – foods that if eaten in large quantities or regularly will cause weight gain and poor nutritional intake. An example of an empty calorie food is 10 jelly beans which provide 100 calories but no nutrients. Compare that to 3 oz (85 g) of pork, still 100 calories but loaded in protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 just to name a few.A piece of apple pie will give you 400 calories, but so will five apples but chances are you won’t be able to eat all five before your stomach is full. Filling up faster with fewer calories and more nutrients is good for your waistline and your health.

Nutrient dense foods are less processed more natural foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low fat milk and milk alternatives, and lean meat and meat alternatives.In fact, the less processed, the more nutrient dense a food is. Research shows that people who choose foods that are nutritionally dense often take in fewer calories because they are filling up on fibre, water and protein. These three components are secret weapons when it comes to weight management. They are also getting extra nutrients to fight disease and boost their immune system.

When deciding what to eat consider the nutrition content of foods, not just calories; then watch your portions. Many people trying to lose weight quit eating healthy foods that they consider high in calories. They quit eating foods like avocados, nuts and milk. They drink diet pop or beverages flavoured with artificial sweeteners instead, which have no calories but no nutrition either. It is better to include those healthy and nutrient dense foods in your diet. A quarter of an avocado is a good maximum amount per day as is 60 ml or ¼ cup of nuts or seeds. These are full of essential fats we need to get in our diet because our bodies can’t make them. As for milk, research clearly shows that three servings a day of milk or milk alternatives helps with weight loss.

Since 60% of our energy intake now comes from snacks, instead of sit down meals, one step towards successful weight loss is to change what you snack on. Reach for nutrient dense snacks such as carrot sticks, sliced up red, green, orange or yellow peppers, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower or celery (yes a little bit of dip is ok! Try plain yogurt mixed with dill and a bit of salt for a boost of calcium, probiotics and protein). Grab nature’s fast food – fruit: an orange, apple, pear, grapefruit, grapes, banana or blueberries. These will fill you up fast, piling on the nutrition but not the pounds. If you find you are over hungry by meal time, try a soy drink box, white or chocolate milk, or yogurt as a snack. You’ll find your energy levels soaring while your waistline is shrinking.

Article written by: Diane Britton, Registered Dietitian

For more posts like these, visit the Physical Wellness page.