The Weight of Information

I read an "article" recently regarding the effects of caloric density on weight. Just to backtrack for those of you who would like a quick refresher on what exactly caloric density means: it is how many calories a given volume of food contains. For instance, if you look at a label for a candy bar, and then at the label for a protein bar, they may display the same number of total calories. This is the caloric density of each bar.

The reason that this article got me all fired up was based on the following two statements: "Several studies have shown that individuals who consume low-calorie-dense diets also consume fewer total calories per day.” ...and…”Low-calorie-dense foods tend to contain more water and fiber, along with less fat."

The tiny bit of truth in this overall argument is that if the food choices do happen to contain more fiber and water (i.e. vegetables), then yes, eating a diet of a lower calorie foods would lead to fewer calories per day. However, most diets with a low caloric density are not made up of vegetables. Instead, they often consist of refined carbohydrates, chemicals, and sugar substitutes. These ingredients not only lead to hunger via blood sugar crashes, but also lead to weight gain by blocking the absorption of ingested nutrients, thus causing your body to hold onto the calories you have eaten versus utilizing them as a source of fuel.

Refer for a moment to the argument of eating a candy bar versus a protein bar. If they both contain the same number of calories, but the candy bar has a very low ratio of protein & fat to the calories coming from carbohydrates, then you are likely to experience a blood sugar crash not too long after ingestion which will leave you feeling hungry again. A protein bar higher in fat and protein content will slow the absorption of sugar, leaving you feeling fuller longer. Better yet, eating a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter or a few slices of avocado (both very high in fat) will not only leave you feeling full longer, but will also offer your body many desirable vitamins and nutrients.

The truth of it all is that if you choose to eat real foods, especially those higher in fat, you will have a healthier diet overall as long as you keep your portions in control. So avoid candy bars and avoid protein bars and plan ahead. If you prepare your meals ahead of time, you won't be left choosing the lesser of two evils.