You hear me talk a lot about how weight loss is a numbers game and how you have to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight.
Say, for example, I require 1650 calories to lose 0.5 lbs/week.
Does that mean I can eat 1650 calories of ANYTHING and still lose 0.5 lbs/week as long as I stay within my 1650 calorie goal?
I can literally be on an ice cream diet all day and as long as I consume no more than 1650 calories worth of ice cream, I’ll still lose 0.5 lbs/week!
This is where the concept of nutrient-dense vs. calorie-dense foods comes in.
Take this example here:
Half an avocado = 130 calories.
A handful of chocolate almond M&M’s = 130 calories.
Two foods with the same calories but completely different type & quality of food.
The avocado is a nutrient-dense food and the M&M’s are a calorie-dense food.
Nutrient-dense foods have more nutrients in them. The avocado in this example has fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, and vitamins & minerals such as magnesium and niacin.
Calorie-dense foods usually just have calories in them and not many nutrients. The chocolate almond M&M’s in this example does not provide anything that promotes health or nutrition optimization. However, calorie-dense foods TASTE AMAZING!
Nutrient-dense foods are good for your health but calorie-dense foods are good for your soul!
Back to the ice cream diet example. Since weight loss is based on creating a calorie deficit, you can technically eat ice cream all day and lose weight.
But ice cream is a calorie-dense food. Eating only calorie-dense foods does not help you meet your nutrition needs. We NEED vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein & fiber in our diet and we get these nutrients from nutrient-dense foods!
And also, 1650 calories worth of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream is about a pint and a half of ice cream. Imagine only eating a pint and a half of ice cream all day… you’re not going to feel nourished or full and you definitely won’t be feeling too great.
A balanced diet CAN include BOTH nutrient-dense and calorie-dense foods.
The majority of your diet will contain nutrient-dense foods such as whole-grains, fruits & vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and lean protein.
But flexible eaters understand that calorie-dense foods are never going to stop tasting amazing. Sometimes a bowl of ice cream or flaming hot Cheetos is what the body wants and it’s completely okay and important to listen to your body and enjoy these foods in the right portion sizes WITHOUT guilt.
ALL foods have a place in your diet when trying to lose weight! Nothing is off-limits when eaten in the right portion size.