Have you ever eaten a cup of soup prior to your meal only to find that you couldn't eat very much of that meal? Obviously the soup had a hand in filling you up before the main course came. The principle behind this is called caloric density and it may be the key to your weight loss.
We all know it's all about calories when it comes to weight loss (or weight gain). When we eat, our brain isn't counting those calories, it's waiting for a signal from our stomach that it's full of food so we stop eating. When we eat a food like cookies, which have lots of calories packed in a small area, we aren't going to feel very full. This is a highly dense food. This also includes meats, dairy and oils. To put it another way, a tablespoon of oil has 120 calories while it would take more than 3 cups of most vegetables to get this many. Those 120 calories from oil will hardly take up any space in your stomach while the 3 cups of vegetables will take up significantly more room, leading to a more sustained feeling of fullness.
The truth is, if you were to simply eat a high percentage of your diet from foods with the lowest caloric density, you would always find yourself eating large plates of food, feel full, and still lose weight. Not only that, but you would also increase your daily intake of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes to help prevent future health problems.
The following list of foods are ones you should be eating by the plateful to lose weight: Raw, leafy greens, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cucumber, celery, snow peas, zucchini, beets, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, beans/legumes and fresh fruits.
Michael Murphy is a registered dietitian living in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach him at (480) 415-8803 or visit www.nutritiontoyou.com.