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Can You Eat More and Drop Body Fat?

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I’ll give you a little insight into what normally happens when I work with clients.

Firstly, two weeks after setting their initial nutrition plan, we start to see some pretty cool momentum and initial weight loss progress. After taking their first progress measurements, the clients’ motivation is at an all-time high. Then, upon assessing the progress, I tell them that they need to eat more.

Wait a minute…

Eat more to lose weight? How is that possible?

The secret to the concept lies in a basic understanding of food and its make-up; namely around the differences between nutrient-dense and calorie-dense foods.

Let me explain…

When it comes to food, many nutritional beginners believe that the more you eat the more calories you ingest. As a result, many people who follow this line of belief end up adhering to the ‘more you eat the more weight you put on’ concept. Even though this is technically true (depending on certain circumstances), it is not always the case. Let’s look at a couple of determining factors that will dictate the amount of truth to the idea of “more food, more weight gain.”

Calories in versus calories out.

If you have read any of my previous articles you will be well aware of the concept of creating a calorie deficit for weight loss.

Why do I do this?  Essentially, creating an energy deficit is the number 1 thing you must do before you consider the finer details of what food works best for you. This is because it is irrelevant how many calories you ingest during the day as long as your activity, steps and training expend more calories than the ones you take in.

  • Eat 2,000, expend 2,500. You have a deficit of 500 kcals
  • Eat 10,000 expend 10,500.  You have a deficit of 500 kcals.

Each one will elicit fat loss!

food volume

The other key concept of eating more while losing weight lies in your actual food volume.

I would hazard a guess that at some point, most of you would have followed a pretty similar day as the one below.

  1. Breakfast. Cereal or toast – 500 calories approx
  2. Lunch. Sandwich and crisps – 6-800 calories approx
  3. Snack. Cookie or chocolate bar – 3-500 calories approx
  4. Dinner. Pasta dish. 6-1000 calories approx

How do you feel shortly after you’ve eaten each meal?  Hungry?!  I know I do. You see, this daily meal structure is filled with what we call calorie-dense foods.

calorie dense foods

Calorie density is a measure of the calorie content of food relative to its weight or volume. It is also called energy density and is usually measured as calories per 100 grams of food.  They are found in almost all processed foods and sweet treats. Chocolate, sweets, ice creams, crisps, and your local dominoes are just a few examples of calorie-dense foods.

The following example or some similar, you would have seen across various media platforms. It shows the contrast in the difference of calories between calorie (energy) dense foods and their nutrient-dense counterparts.

This example is purely used to show the clear difference between what we call a calorie-dense food and a nutrient-dense food.

I am not making any direct comparisons between Broccoli and a Mars Bar. That is pretty self-explanatory and does not take a rocket scientist to ascertain.   In fact, both foods have their place in a healthy meal plan.  Remember why you eat your chocolate, sweets or processed treats.  When you eat them, they release dopamine and other feel-good hormones.  Is that good for your mental health?  Absolutely.

nutrient-dense foods

Nutrient-dense foods is where the real health value lies, as these foods are full of vitamins and minerals that keep your body in fine working order!  They are found predominantly in vegetables, namely fibrous green veg, but can also be found in lean, low-fat meat options such as turkey, chicken, and lean mince. 

Let’s take our example into consideration once again. We all know the feel-good factor of our chocolate bar, but when it comes to physiological health and calories per 100g, vegetables take the gold medal.  They provide the ‘bulk’ of your daily nutrition and are the key component to how you can eat more while losing weight.

For example, calorie for calorie you would need to eat 10 times more volume of vegetables to ingest the equivalent amount of calories as the chocolate bar.  That’s a kilo!

The example above highlights the vastly increased volume of vegetables it would take to equal that of your standard chocolate bar in terms of calorie intake. It also shows how food volume increases when you change from a diet of processed, high-calorie convenience foods vs their lower calorie, higher nutrient-dense counterparts.

We all know the health benefits of eating your greens.  It results in healthy brain function, improvements in skin health, stress relief, stronger bones and healthier ageing – to name just a few.  So not only are you getting to ‘eat more’, your body and mind will thank you for it!

how to eat more to lose weight

It’s easy to say eat more veg and lean meat.  But as we know from those who eat exclusively this way – things start to get boring real quick!  Variety is key to a healthy mind, body, and weight loss journey.  They should include a majority of nutrient-dense food options with a splash of calorie-dense ‘feel good’ foods.  A typical day could look something like this for a 2000 calorie day.  Try it, I would bet that you may struggle to eat this much food!!

  1. Breakfast : 3 egg omelette with spinach, onions, and mushrooms
  2. Second meal: 150g lean meat/fish, 250 grams green veg, 50g potato/rice
  3. Third meal: 150g lean meat/fish, homemade salsa, ½ avocado.
  4. Snack: 200g total Greek yoghurt, 100g red berries, 50g chocolate

Not a bad day is it?!  It certainly beats the cereal and sandwich options!

Whatever your goal (weight loss or general health) Food should NEVER be boring or monotonous. Yet, many of us often fall into the trap of choosing convenient foods that can easily leave you feeling hungry, all the while consuming a larger proportion of calories. As you can now see, this is not ideal for weight loss.

As you can now see, eating more does not necessarily mean eating more calories.  In fact, it can lead to a vast reduction in overall calorie consumption due to eating more nutrient-dense, healthy ingredients.  If your calories drop and activity increases, what happens?

 

You create a calorie deficit.

 

If you have a calorie deficit, what happens?

 

You lose weight.

 

So, now you know how you can feel fuller and get in the shape of your life.

 

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