(Nutrient density explored and why it is absolutely necessary for losing weight.)
Today, unlike several years ago, the common theory on losing weight was considered simple, consume fewer calories than you expend in energy and you will lose fat. Unfortunately, for most people over thirty-five, that simple calculation does not hold true. Sure, it still holds true for those who are younger. It even holds true for a few over thirty-five. Unfortunately, those over approximately thirty-five who manage to lose weight primarily by reducing portion sizes, stop losing weight and come to a standstill after losing 5, 10, maybe 15 lbs. Why is that? The short answer to this question is that bodies adapt to the reduced calories and the dieters find it difficult to sustain the reduced portion sizes when nutrient density is lacking in their daily diet. Let me explain by illustrating what the scientists are saying regarding losing fat in our 30’s, 40’s and beyond.
We all know that calories are still important in losing weight, but what is not so well known and that demands our attention is that what we eat is even more important in weight loss.
A nutrient dense diet is something that helps you adhere to a diet. They say any diet will work if you stick with it. We are told to burn more calories than we consume, and that this is the fundamental science of weight loss.
Yet every single one of us who has followed this approach inevitably experiences a period where it is literally impossible to stay on this path. To make matters worse, we then feel badly about ourselves. Nutrient density is a key part of ending this cycle.
We have all been on diets and failed. In fact, people that I come in contact with in my practice are openly admitting to the notion that “diets do not work.” Yet, there are elements of dieting which I have seen in training and coaching people that really work well. For example, portion control remains an important part of the weight loss process. However, my clients realize that one must combine “nutrient density” with portion control, to get on a path to sustained weight loss.
What Is Nutrient Density?
Nutrient density is a concept pioneered by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It is simply the measurement of the concentration of micronutrients in food. Some foods, like green vegetables have very high nutrient density measurements. Processed foods have very low nutrient density measurements. Foods that are nutrient dense are associated with greater health, increased energy and weight loss.
According to Dr. Fuhrman, if you can’t stick to a diet, you cannot achieve permanent weight loss and health. If a diet does not provide the nutrients you need, then your body will demand more food and it will be nearly impossible to maintain a proper weight. From his perspective and research in this area, this is the key to permanent weight loss. It can be made part of any diet strategy.
Part of my core coaching practice utilizes the concept of nutrient density. For example, I often see that when people increase the high nutrient foods (see the chart below) and combine them with common portion control diets, weight loss becomes easier. I have seen this with people wanting to lose a little weight and also with people who have lost a lot of weight – upwards of 25 lbs.
The Science Behind Nutrient Density
It is now believed that people feel hungry on a diet because their body is not getting the nutrients it needs. More and more evidence has revealed that eating more high nutrient food is a key way to lose weight permanently. Learning how to incorporate this into your life and the diet you have chosen to follow is the secret to controlling food cravings and overeating.
Here is the formula for nutrient density:
H= N/C or Health = Nutrients Over Calories.
The scientific principle represented in this formula is known as “Nutrient Density”. It is the measure of the nutrients provided per calorie of food, or the ratio of nutrients to calories (energy).
An apple, for example, is a better choice than a bag of chips for weight loss even though both have roughly the same number of calories. The apple is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium and hundreds of other beneficial phytochemicals. Therefore, the apple has a higher nutrient density. By eating the apple, you will feel fuller, have more energy, and over time, will help you lose more weight.
With more nutrient-dense food consumed, the more you will be satisfied with fewer calories, and the less you will crave fat and high-calorie foods. One of the huge benefits to high nutrient eating is that people lose their food cravings, hypoglycemic symptoms and other sensations that drive people to overeat. They are put back in touch with their body’s natural instinctive signals to eat- when food is really needed.
These natural, true hunger signals will help direct you to your true ideal body weight. You will simply desire less food. If you choose foods based on nutrient density, you will essentially be choosing foods based on their overall quality and their ability to have a positive influence on your body and overall health.
Foods That Score Highest in Nutrient Density
Which foods offer the most nutrients, and which offer the least nutrients per calorie? Most of the foods on the following chart will be of no surprise.
Vegetables, fruits, and beans score the best, by far. However, some surprises may change the way you eat forever. With Kale scoring the highest nutrient density of all 20,000 foods tested, it has the highest score of all – 1000! If a product scores 500, it offers half the nutrients of Kale.
· Strawberries, the #1 fruit, only offer one/fourth the nutrients of Kale.
· An Apple is only one/third as valuable as Strawberries.
· Apple Juice is one/fifth as nutritious as an Apple per Calorie.
This information is vital to any dieter trying to stay healthy and lose weight.
It is now estimated that less than 10% of adults and only 2% of children get the minimum daily requirement of vital nutrients their body needs to seek its ideal weight or ward off chronic illnesses. The chronic illnesses that develop as a result of poor eating have become so serious that in 2006 the Center For Disease Control and Prevention announced that this generation of children may be the first not to live as long as their parents.
Incorporate Nutrient Density for Fat Lose
My experience in the training and coaching fields has been that people quickly see the value of adding more nutrient dense foods into the diet when they experiment with foods and see the changes in their pant sizes and body weights on the scale. Inevitably, as results become obvious the motivation increases. As motivation increases, the weight continues to come off, not just temporarily, but for a lifetime.
Here is the question. Where do YOU start now that you are armed with information that when applied smartly and consistently reduces body fat?
By the way, what may appear as big fat white potatoes are actually mushrooms! Not that white potatoes are bad, but when one is in the process of losing weight-and she is, and doing a great job I might add, we need to skip them!
She has lost 8 lbs in 20 days, has done nothing extreme, and sees that her middle section, hips, and inner thigh are feeling tighter and leaner. When I ask her how confident she is in maintaining and or continuing to lose weight, she indicates she is very confident. She continues by explaining that she is never hungry, has huge amounts of energy, and has a lifestyle she can easily maintain.
This is what I love to hear. And it’s happening. People are eating like they mean it. It’s out of vogue to deny hunger and it’s in vogue to be healthy. When we are eating healthy, we eat lots of high-density foods that bring nutrients to our bodies. Then we layer them with a moderate amount of good fats and proteins, and we lose fat.
Look at the picture of what my boater friend is eating. Then ask yourself if you can be that healthy person?
I had this client apply two principles of fat loss:
1. Nutrient density on a daily basis – as is discussed in this article.
2. Fighting stubborn fat with protein, fat, and fiber for quick and sustainable weight loss.
This second principle of weight loss will be the topic of my next newsletter. If you are motivated to lose weight and keep it off, and want to get a jump-start into the holiday season, then call or e mail me and I will be happy to discuss how you can be feeling good, looking good, and having enormous amounts of energy this holiday season. It will be simply. You will lose weight. You will have a huge amount of energy.
Stayed tuned. In two weeks I will discuss ways to beat stubborn fat with high quality protein, an abundance of fibrous foods, and believe it or not, fat!