For weight loss, focus on high volume foods!

Most fruits, vegetables, pulses and whole grains are good sources of fibre, which adds volume and bulk to your food

I’ve had several people tell me over the years that I eat a lot of food. Usually when I was working in an office or similar situation, where between the hours of 8am and 6pm I would have a morning snack of fruit and yoghurt, a full lunch of reheated leftovers from the night before (Tupperware has always been my friend) and an energy or protein bar in the afternoon. It drove my co-workers crazy, because I appeared to eat way more food than them, yet was not piling on the pounds like they were. The problem was, they were focused on volume, not density.

Fundamentally, your stomach responds to volume not mass. In other words, you feel full when your stomach is stretched by bulky foods. What’s more, the stretch signal is one of the first to reach the brain and tell you to stop eating. Unfortunately, a common theme of high fat, high sugar foods is they pack a lot of calories into a very small space. In nutrition circles, we call these foods calorie dense. For example, 100g of spinach leaves is a LOT of salad, but it has less than 30 kcal. On the other hand, most people would have no problems eating 100g of milk chocolate, which has at least 500 kcal. Of course, your body will realise you’ve just downed a load of calories eventually, even if they were packed into a tiny portion. But only after they’ve been digested, which takes at least 20 minutes, during which time you’re still hungry!

The solution is to go for foods that are high in fibre, water and general bulk, without being high in calories. These will fill you up faster and help prevent overeating. The best sources are plant based foods like fruits, vegetables, pulses and whole grains. What’s more, these foods tend to be high in vitamins and minerals. This means they are nutrient dense, but lower in calories. For example, my favourite breakfast is a bowl of porridge with frozen fruit and ground flaxseeds. It absolutely fills a large bowl once the boiling water has been absorbed, yet it only has 250 kcal. On the other hand, you can easily find several brands of cereal or granola where a 30g serving barely fills a third of the bowl and is 250 kcal or more, before you add the milk!

If you are used to managing your weight by eating tiny portions of calorie dense foods, then yes, it will look like I eat a lot of food. However, as you can see from the diet diary below, choosing plant based, unprocessed foods means you can eat “a lot” of food and still keep the calorie count down!

The Score for 30 March:

Calories: Protein: Carbs: Sugars: Fat: Sat Fat: Fibre:  
2032 129.71g 217.56g 103.72g 68.33g 20.55g 35.21g  
26% 43%   30%    
     
Calories burned through exercise: 431    

What I ate:

Time Item Amount Calories Protein Carbs Sugars Fibre Fat Sat Fat Alcohol
07:30 Centrum Multivitamin,  Vitamin E 400IU, Vitamin D 25 µg
Tap water 250mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Soft boiled eggs, 2 large 115g 150 14.49 0.00 0.00 0.00 10.35 2.88 0.00
Free From pure oats 50g 171 6.40 30.30 0.60 4.30 2.70 0.50 0.00
made with boiling water 250mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tesco mixed frozen fruits 100g 40 0.90 7.90 7.90 2.00 0.20 0.00 0.00
Ground flaxseeds 10g 45 2.21 0.30 0.18 2.37 4.00 0.45 0.00
Black Tea 350mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
10:00 Black Tea 350mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
11:45 Homemade veggie tagine 350g 284 10.26 38.28 23.79 7.29 8.26 1.13 0.00
Activia natural yoghurt with 150g 96 7.50 9.90 9.90 0.00 2.90 2.00 0.00
Sliced plums, two medium, 112g 47 0.67 9.86 9.86 1.08 0.11 0.00 0.00
Sunflower seeds, 5g 30 1.04 0.57 0.13 0.43 2.58 0.23 0.00
Pumpkin seeds, 5g 30 1.51 0.54 0.07 0.30 2.46 0.44 0.00
and Brazil nuts 6g 41 0.86 0.25 0.14 0.45 4.03 0.97 0.00
12:30 Green tea 250mL 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
16:15 Sandwich made with Genius brown sliced gluten free bread, 2 slices, with 75g 195 1.95 35.10 1.87 7.80 5.15 0.39 0.00
Baked chicken breast, 100g 135 31.90 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.90 0.60 0.00
Tesco extra mature cheddar, 46g 187 11.43 0.05 0.05 0.00 15.71 9.77 0.00
and Baxters Albert’s Victorian chutney 26g 39 0.26 9.15 8.37 0.47 0.08 0.00 0.00
Apple 121g 63 0.48 14.16 14.16 2.16 0.10 0.00 0.00
19:00 Salad with spinach, 30g 8 0.84 0.48 0.45 0.63 0.24 0.03 0.00
sliced tomato, 84g 16 0.59 2.60 2.60 0.84 0.25 0.08 0.00
Merchant Gourmet red and white quinoa, 125g 231 7.63 35.75 1.88 5.00 5.25 0.63 0.00
Tesco Healthy eating frozen Wild Alaskan salmon fillet, baked 86g 86 18.49 0.17 0.09 0.00 1.38 0.43 0.00
and Tesco French Dressing 1 tbsp 13 0.10 2.20 1.70 0.10 0.40 0.05 0.00
21:45 Hot skimmed milk, 300mL 105 10.20 15.00 15.00 0.00 0.30 0.00 0.00
with brown sugar 5g 20 0.00 5.00 5.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

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