A few weeks ago I wrote what I thought was a fairly exhaustive article documenting my latest success in losing about 20 pounds.
Now, maybe you can relate. Do you ever come upon a great idea, read up on it to learn as much as possible, put it into practice, see how well it works, and then for some reason completely forget about it? No? That’s just me? OK, let me crawl back into my hole now.
The concept I’m referring to focuses on the caloric density of food, which arguably is complementary with what I wrote recently. Right now I am looking at a 15 year old yellowed paperback book from Dr. Barbara Rolls. It is called “The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan.” This book proposes that one can feel fuller, i.e., more satiated, with fewer calories by eating more foods with lower caloric density and less foods with higher caloric density.
Therefore, you can pretty much graze on green vegetables all day long and never gain a pound. This is mostly the case for fruits as well, although your sweeter options like bananas are at the top of that scale. More physically active people can opt for plenty of unadulterated complex carbohydrates like legumes and potatoes. Life gets far more caloric with a tendency to gain weight when you delve too much into meats, bread and pasta, dairy, oils, and sweets. It’s a fantastic approach that I cannot believe hasn’t gained more attention. But, if you don’t feel like reading an entire book on this subject, then stay with me.
Back in my vegan days, I came upon the writings of nutritionist Jeff Novick. One of his articles crisply summarizes the caloric density approach to eating. Jeff uses good old fashioned American pounds calculations for reaching the same conclusions as Ms. Rolls with her fancy metric thing, i.e., calories/gram of food. One can discover the calories per ounce of food, or 28 grams if you prefer, and multiply by 16 to get the calories per pound result.
Here is a nice go-to chart in the article that provides a broad overview of the caloric density of foods. Jeff believes that you can eat as much food as you want at the 300 calorie per pound level and less with impunity. Again, more active people can eat foods with more discretion at the 300-800 calorie level. Everybody needs to limit their intake of foods above this level if losing weight is the goal. My use of the term “watch” is intentional, as opposed to “never eat.”
Warning: Because Jeff is a vegan, you will see nary a mention of meats. Does this mean I’m advocating you not eat meat? Hardly! You can easily run some calculations on your own that may cause you to modify the overall composition of your food intake, particularly if you like eating large quantities of food. How? Get a free Cronometer account. This is a ridiculously comprehensive food database that easily enables you to calculate calories per 16 ounces of food. Broccoli? 154 calories per pound. Blueberries? 259 calories per pound. Baked potato? 422 calories per pound. Boneless skinless chicken breast? 785 calories per pound. Dry roasted and salted almonds? 2,712 calories per pound. And so on. Yes, there is a Cronometer app for your iPhone or Android device.
As we’re fully enmeshed in holiday season, this approach gives you an opportunity to become more aware before gouging on cheese – cheddar is 1,833 calories per pound – and perhaps introduce a healthy bulk of food from the crudité platter along with the inevitable few bites of smoked gorgonzola – 1,601 calories per pound.
Unlike me, you don’t need to become an obsessive freak who nobody wants to associate with. Instead, you can simply tweak your party and meal eating plan to avoid what many perceive as the inevitable holiday weight gain. And I raise a glass to that because I’d much rather drink my calories at this time of year. Cheers!