Energy Dense Sounds Good -- But Not for Losing Weight

Woman Choosing Nutrient Dense Foods

"Empty calories" and "energy dense" are misleading food terms that often appear in weight loss articles. You might think that foods empty in calories would be good for any diet plan. Conversely, foods that are jam-packed with energy should be a great addition as well. Unfortunately, filling up on energy dense foods with empty calories is last thing you should if you are trying to lose weight or wanting to improve your health. Empty calories is the term used to describe foods with added sugars and/or solid fats that contain no nutrients. Energy dense foods have a high concentration of calories per gram and often contain lots of empty calories.

It is true that energy comes from calories, but once the body uses what it needs, unburned calories are stored as fat. If you are trying to lose weight, it is important to eat low energy-dense foods. That way you can eat a greater volume of food that's lower in overall calories. Most often, energy dense foods are processed foods. For food manufacturers to deliver products that have a long shelf life, taste great and are easy to prepare, large amounts of sugar, fat and sodium are added. Energy-dense foods include traditional fast foods, bakery items and ice cream. Foods with empty calories include sugary drinks, chips, sweet treats, breads made with refined flour and luncheon meats.

Eating Nutrient Dense Foods

Since energy-dense foods are often loaded with empty calories, you want to choose foods that are the exact opposite. In other words, you want to eat foods that contain an abundance of nutrients and fiber with a relatively low calorie count. Consuming nutrient dense foods helps in several ways. Not only do they provide much needed nutrition for the body, nutrient dense foods will fill you up and keep you from feeling hungry between meals. In addition to phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, nutrient dense foods contain more water. By comparison, processed foods are dried out to extend shelf life for distribution and storage.

If most of the foods you eat are nutrient dense and high in fiber, an occasional high-calorie indulgence won't hurt. What really matters for weight loss is the overall quality of your menu plan. To learn more about eating real foods to lose weight and keep it off, contact the Metabolic Research Center. We've been helping clients restore their health and wellness for more than 30 years.


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