|May 31, 2000 |
BIRMINGHAM, AL — Lose weight by eating more? It’s not as dense an idea as it sounds. In fact, choosing foods based on energy density is gaining popularity as a way to weigh less.
"You can consume a greater volume of low energy density foods such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables, without increasing calories," says registered dietitian Kathy Hubbert, RD, director of UAB’s (University of Alabama at Birmingham) EatRight Weight Management Program. "The greater volume makes you feel fuller so you are less likely to snack or overeat just because you feel hungry."
The value of eating foods low in energy density has been spearheaded by research done at UAB by Dr. Roland Weinsier, professor of nutrition sciences and medicine.
"We eat according to the weight of food, not calories or fat content," says Weinsier. "You have to eat more of a high energy density meal such as a cheeseburger, fries and a soda to eat enough weight for your body to signal that you’re full. By that time, you’ve taken on too many calories."
Eating the same weight in a meal made up of whole grains, fruit and vegetables will fill you up and cause your body to send the signal that you are full while keeping the calorie count low.
Hubbert provides an example: For lunch, you could have a large fast-food burger (560 calories), small fry (210 calories) and a 16 oz. soft drink (150 calories) for a total of 920 calories. Or, you can get the same number of calories by having a turkey sandwich with low-fat cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard (270 calories), a cup of 3-bean salad (180), carrot sticks with low-fat dressing (50), chips and salsa (100), a cup of non-fat frozen yogurt (220), a diet soft drink (0), a half cup of blueberries (40) and a large slice of watermelon (60).
"You get a lot more food for the same amount of calories," says Hubbert. "And for many dieters, the largest hurdle to sticking to a diet is feeling hungry all the time." Hubbert says even favorites like pizza can meet the low density challenge. A personal pan, cheese only, pizza (813 calories), 2 breadsticks (260) and a 16 oz. soft drink (150) total 1223 calories. Compare that to eating half of a medium, thin crust ham pizza (848), large tossed salad with fat-free dressing (50), a diet soft drink (0), a large apple (90) and even 6 ounces of non-fat frozen yogurt with 2 tablespoons of M&M’s candy on top (225) for the same number of calories.
Weinsier, who began examining the relationship between energy density and weight loss in 1976 and developed the EatRight system, says studies have shown that the system works.
"We’ve shown that increasing the amount of low energy density foods in your diet and minimizing high energy density foods, coupled with exercise, can lead to significant weight loss that can be maintained over time."
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