Energy density is the relationship between calories and the weight of a food. Studies show people tend to eat a certain volume of food each day. Foods that have a lot of water and fiber tend to weigh less than foods that are high in fat and sugar.
Fiber and water lower the energy density of foods because they take up volume but don't contribute a lot of calories. When you eat foods low in energy density, you feel full sooner due to a higher volume of food in your stomach. As a result, you eat fewer calories, and this will help you to lose weight. When you eat foods that are high in energy density they take up less volume in your stomach because they have less fiber and/or water.
Since the natural instinct is to eat a certain volume of food you will eat more of these higher energy dense foods to feel full. As a result, it is a lot easier to take in more calories than your body needs.
|Instead of these foods:||Try these:|
|Packaged cereal||Oatmeal with strawberries and skim milk|
|Bacon and eggs||Egg white omelet with veggies and low-fat cheese|
|Bagel or pastry||Whole grain muffin and fruit|
|Deli sandwich||Whole grain pita stuffed with veggies|
|Pizza||Pasta with red sauce and a salad|
|Hamburger||Bean or split pea soup|
|French fries||Baked potato and salsa|
|Chef salad||Garden salad with low-fat dressing|
|Roast beef||Baked fish and baked beans|
|Fried chicken||Stir fry with veggies and chicken|
|Pasta with meat||Pasta with veggies or soy protein with tomato sauce|
|Lasagna||Low-fat vegetarian lasagna|
|Meatloaf||Brown rice and beans|
|Snacks and Treats|
|Cookie||Fresh fruit or whole grain muffin|
|Brownie||Fresh fruit with lite chocolate syrup|
|Ice cream||Fruit smoothie or light, fat-free yogurt with fruit|
To calculate the energy density of a food, take the total number of calories per serving and divide it by the weight in grams. For example a food with 130 calories per serving that weighs 30 grams per serving has an energy density of 4.3.
Low energy density foods are less than 1.5 and high energy density foods are greater than 3. Therefore, the example given is a high energy density food.