Eat more with fewer calories

Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to go hungry.

Food plays an important part in our lives, nourishing our bodies with necessary nutrients for good health and when providing enjoyment and entertainment. Foods with little nutritional value are often used to reward or celebrate and are even given as gifts. These less than nutrient dense foods usually carry a large amount of calories and fat within one serving size. Is it possible to eat more, with fewer calories? It is, and Michigan State University Extension provides ways to do this.

Adding certain types of foods and increasing your water intake can increase the amount of food that you eat while staying within your fat and calorie range. It is recommended to consume no more than 30 percent of your total daily calories from fat each day. Adding more volume to your diet in the form of fruits and vegetables, increased fiber, decreasing fat and adding water is known as “volumetrics.”

Listed are examples of ways to add volume to your meals and eat fewer calories:

  • Add water to your meals by making soup a starter to your meal or as the main meal. Add soda water or plain water to juice to decrease the sugar and increase water.
  • Add fruit to your diet – use it as an appetizer, add it to your favorite yogurt, rice or lettuce salad, breakfast cereal. Add pureed fruit such as applesauce and prunes to baked goods as a substitute for the fat in the recipe.
  • Add vegetables to your diet – begin your meal with raw vegetables or a salad, add vegetables to cooked dishes or eat as snacks. Stock up on fresh, frozen and canned vegetables, being sure to try new vegetables and vegetable juice.
  • Research shows that soup has been shown to satisfyingly fill people and help keep weight off, especially broth-based, as they take a longer time to eat and are a good way to increase vegetable consumption.
  • Salads are filling and can include a variety of vegetables and protein like nuts or low fat meats. Salads can include grains such as brown rice and beans, such as black beans.
  • Legumes are very versatile and can be added to soups, salads, dips, pastas and casseroles. Legumes are a good source of fiber.
  • Nuts, seeds and dried fruits are good sources of fiber but are higher in calories and fat, so eat them in moderation.
  • Make half of your grains whole grains by substituting refined grains with whole grains. This includes whole grain pasta, rice and bread.

Adding foods with fiber and water in the examples above can be helpful in losing weight and aid in preventing certain diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and digestion diseases. It is recommended that healthy adults eat 25-38 grams of fiber every day. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables and dried beans are all excellent sources of fiber. As you add volume to your diet, don’t forget about portion sizes when meal planning. Small changes in achievable goals show bigger results over time.

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