If you are trying to lose weight, choose food based on its weight-to-calorie ratio. You want to eat food that weighs a lot but has few calories and avoid food that is light in weight but hefty in calories.
Heavy Weight, Low Calorie Foods
Fruits and vegetables are the big winners in the heavy weight – low calorie food department, according to Tufts University. They weigh a lot because of their fiber and water content, yet do not have many calories.
- 1 cup of cantaloupe or melon weighs 5.5 ounces but only has 56 calories.
- A cup of cooked spinach weighs six ounces but only has 42 calories.
According to a New Zealand University study, food that is light in weight but high in calories is probably the worse kind of food to eat if you are trying to lose weight. It’s sort of like ‘double jeopardy’ – you are still hungry but you have already eaten many calories. (Note the weight to calorie ratio.)
Light Weight, High Calorie Foods
- 6-cups of buttered popcorn weighs 3-ounces and contains 420 calories.
- 1-ounce of potato chips contain 152 calories.
- 1 average cookie weighs 1/2-ounce and contains about 50 calories.
- 1.5 ounces of a chocolate bar contains 220 calories.
- 1 small croissant weighs only 2-ounces but contains 230 calories.
As you can see, most “junk” snack foods don’t weigh much, but have a lot of calories. The majority of these foods don’t really satisfy your hunger, causing you to munch more, taking in excess calories.
Weight of Cooked and Prepared Foods
Choose lower-fat choices of the same weight food. There can be a world of difference between the caloric consumption of two people eating the same weight and type of food. How is this possible? Easy, if you consider the way the food is cooked or prepared.
Here are some examples of a weight to calorie ratio, all of which weigh 3.5 ounces.
- Boiled potatoes have 62 calories compared to french fried potatoes with 328 calories.
- Sardines in tomato sauce contain 127 calories while sardines in oil have 372.
- Tuna flakes in water have 95 calories while tuna flakes in oil have 309.
You get the picture.
Avoid the “light weight-high calorie” way of dieting. Many people think that by eating something light like crackers, they will lose weight. What they don’t realize is that just because a food is light doesn’t automatically mean it contains few calories. One could easily eat nine crackers (420 calories) and still not feel full because nine crackers only weigh 3-ounces.
A Satisfying Meal Example
You could have a satisfying meal of 1/2-cup steamed rice, a cup of cooked spinach, a small piece of fish, and a cup of cantaloupe for less calories.
This complete meal would weigh a satisfying 18.5 ounces and only contains 378 calories. By making the right food choices, you can cut down on unnecessary calories without starving yourself and feeling deprived.
You should also cut down somewhat on your carbohydrates, but donâ€™t cut them out completely! Effective weight loss depends on exercise and activity; without some carbs in your diet, you wonâ€™t have the energy youâ€™ll need to effectively burn off calories.
It’s a balancing act, yes. We suggest you consider starting with a â€œbaseline dietâ€ that dictates at least half of your calories come from vegetables, fruits, natural starches, and whole grains. The rest of your diet should consist of low-fat proteins like fish, chicken, and lean beef.
You need to balance out your carbs with your protein, but do try to stay away from carbs at night – it’s not helpful to “sleep on them”. Periodically, you can to take â€œcarb-upâ€ days to get your energy levels up.
When we talk about protein, many people wonder just how much is enough or how much is too much. See: Protein: Of First Importance. LEAN proteins speed up your metabolism and can help accelerate weight loss.
This might be a good time to talk about portion sizes. As a general rule of thumb, you should never eat a serving that is larger than your clenched fist. The good news about this is that youâ€™ll be able to eat enough to get full without overdoing it. For more information on portion sizes, visit Portion Sizes and/or Portion Size Still Counts.
Cravings might be the worst part about controlling what you’re eating. Letâ€™s say you love chocolate chip cookies like I do. If youâ€™re craving a chocolate chip cookie, denying that craving will only make it stronger.
Instead of not having the cookie, go ahead, just donâ€™t overdo it. Simply have one instead of three. You can indulge in your favorite foods as long as you keep it within reason. Eat it slowly and savor every bite – don’t scarf it down as many of us are wont to do!
Most experts agree that the traditional three square meals a day shouldnâ€™t be part of a healthy diet. In fact, you should eat more meals every day. How cool is that? 🙂 Just be sure to apply the weight to calorie ratio.
The idea here is that you overeat when you are overly hungry. To combat that hunger, you should eat more meals with smaller portions rather than fewer meals with larger portions. For women, it is recommended you eat five meals a day and for men, you should eat six. Try to make these meals a minimum of 2 hours apart to insure you donâ€™t get too hungry. See More is Better: Meal Plan to Rev-Up Your Metabolism for more information on this approach.
The benefits of weight to calorie ratio eating will reveal themselves! Providing you eat the right kind of foods, you can achieve the following benefits:
- Faster metabolic rate
- Higher energy
- Less storage of body fat due to the smaller portions
- Reduced hunger and cravings
- Steadier blood sugar and insulin levels
- More calories available for muscle growth
- Better absorption and utilization of the nutrients in your food