Wednesday, September 15, 2010

High Volume, Low Density Eating

As I mentioned last time, my favorite strategy for feeling full sooner and longer is low density eating. Low density eating is found in both Dr. Rolls’ Volumetrics Eating Plan and the Pritkin Diet. It’s based on eating foods that are low in energy density, found by dividing the calories of the food into its weight in grams. To manage weight (and increase satiety), experts recommend emphasizing foods with low energy density (under 1.0), eating in moderation foods that have medium energy density (1.0 to 2.0), eating small portions of higher density foods (2.0 to 3.0) and minimizing the highest density foods (over 3.0).

asparagus 0.23
FF milk 0.35
carrots 0.43
orange juice 0.45
orange 0.47
apple 0.59
FF plain yogurt 0.63
wine 0.68
FF cottage cheese 0.70
grapes 0.70
peas 0.78
corn 0.79
banana 0.92
baked potato w/ skin 1.09
soft serve ice cream 1.26
spaghetti 1.41
egg 1.48
chicken breast, skinless 1.65
lean sirloin 2.02
sour cream 2.07
salmon 2.16
English muffin 2.35
plain bagel 2.75
raisins 3.00
swiss cheese 3.75
rice krispies 3.96
microwave low fat popcorn 4.17
milk chocolate 5.51
almonds 5.79

Notice that there are no “bad” foods on this list. With the exception of ice cream and sour cream, I can make a health claim about any food shown here. Almonds I eat every day, as part of my cholesterol management program. Popcorn is a great high fiber, high volume snack that is relatively low in calories if you manage how much margarine you use.

So what’s the message? To consider how much volume you and satisfaction you get for your calories. Compare grapes at 0.7 density to raisins (dried grapes) at 3.0 density. You can eat a lot more grapes for the same calories as raisins – a lot more. Consider cottage cheese at 0.7 density vs. Swiss cheese at 3.75. A one ounce serving of Swiss cheese provides 7 grams of protein and 105 calories while a ½ cup serving of cottage cheese offers 26 grams of protein for only 80 calories. The latter is likely to leave you much more satisfied for a longer time.

Let me know if you want to do your own calculations on your favorite food. I’d be happy to send you my spreadsheet.

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