Consume nutrient-dense foods to lose weight
Nutrient-dense foods are foods that are rich in nutrients but relatively low in calories. They contain vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. Examples are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk products, seafood, lean meats, eggs, peas, beans, and nuts.
Consuming nutrient-dense foods is not only beneficial for weight loss but also to maintain healthy nutrition. When manufacturers add fat or sugar to foods, they increase their calorie content, making them more energy-dense, and you want to avoid energy-dense foods.
Examples and benefits of nutrient-dense foods
For example, let’s compare white bread with whole-wheat bread. One slice of white bread has about 70 calories with very few vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, whole-wheat bread contains the same amount of calories but four times the magnesium and potassium amount. It’s logical which one is the better choice.
Another example is french fries and a cup of broccoli. In a 100 g serving of french fries, there are about 312 calories containing mostly fats and carbohydrates. In 100 g of broccoli, there are 34 calories, rich in potassium, calcium, Vitamin A and C, sodium and dietary fibre. Again, there is no doubt which food is better for your organism.
The benefits of consuming nutrient-dense foods are:
- Nutrient-dense foods are often high in water and fibre which increases their volume but keeps the calorie low. A great online nutritional resource, Food and Health Communications gave a very insightful example:
For example, compare the volume of 100 calories of a raw apple to 100 calories of apple juice. About 2 cups of sliced raw apples contain 100 calories, while 1 cup of unsweetened apple juice contains 113 calories. You’ll feel more satisfied by eating the apples instead of drinking the juice because the total volume of food we consume is the primary reason for satiety. We can eat a larger volume of low-energy, nutrient-dense foods and lose weight while feeling satisfied.
- Nutrient-dense foods are usually low in calories which is the best option when trying to lose weight.
Remember the weight-loss formula: Your energy expenditure > Your energy (food and drink) intake.
- Lastly, nutrient-dense foods usually provide more vitamins and minerals than energy or calorie dense foods.
The trick is to consume more nutrient-dense foods than energy-dense foods to lose weight within your daily calorie threshold.
Nutrient-dense foods for weight loss
In the first paragraph, I mentioned that we could categorise nutrient-dense foods as:
- Fruit & vegetables
- Whole-grains (whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, etc)
- Lean meat and poultry (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, etc)
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy products (low-fat milk and yoghurt, fat-free milk and yoghurt, etc )
- Seafood (fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, etc)
- Peas, beans and nuts
When trying to lose weight, your goal should be to choose the foods personalised to you and your situation. Moreover, you should consume nutrient dense-foods that support your personalised weight-loss exercise programme.
For example, for lunch or dinner, vegetables plus lean meat can be a great option for weight-loss as it provides the necessary protein, carbs and fat for a body in training and those foods are nutrient-dense and not energy-dense.
Every successful weight-loss programme will consider how many calories you tend to spend per regular personalised workout. When the calorie expenditure is considered, then the calorie balance threshold will be established and a personalised nutritional programme designed. Here is the blog post you might want to check out How to calculate your total daily energy needs.
Your eating habits will play a significant role in your weight-loss pursuits. By simply replacing a chocolate bar (energy-dense and high-calorie) snack with an apple (nutrient-dense and low-calorie), you will do yourself a favour and start building healthier, sustainable habits.
It’s the quality and calorie quantity of food that matters when trying to lose weight.
A couple of suggestions on how to reduce energy density and increase the nutrient density in your daily nutrition:
- For lunch or dinner, have a fresh vegetable salad, but no dressing because it is usually high in calories.
- Here is a trick to try: Consume a piece of fruit before your meal, and you are more likely to consume fewer calories overall during your meal.
- Select less processed foods like brown rice instead of white rice, whole grain bread instead of white bread.
- When you crave something sweet, pick up fresh fruit like a handful of grapes or an orange.
If you take just one piece of suggestion from above, it can have a major impact on your weight loss goal.
Nutrient-dense foods are a real game-changer when it comes to weight-loss. Start consuming nutrient-dense foods every day that are within your calorie threshold and keep following your personalised exercise programme and you will lose weight in no time.
Remember: Stick to nutrient-dense foods and avoid energy-dense foods.
Until next time,
Damir Pervan, Founder and CEO of TrainChampion | Online weight-loss platform