Are There Super Foods for Weight Loss? (Nutrient Density vs. Energy Density)
Some of the causes of weight gain
Weight gain or weight loss isn’t just about eating more and exercising less. Far from it. Weight gain can occur by an assortment of reasons such as too many calories or too few, consuming sugar/high carbohydrate rich diet, low amounts of muscle otherwise known as lean body mass, genetics, basal metabolism (which can change by 40% in either direction) and of course insulin resistance.
Some of the causes of insulin resistance
What exactly is insulin resistance? We can answer that question by first detailing the role that insulin plays in our body. Insulin is an anabolic hormone, a very powerful hormone, that’s primary job is to move glucose from the blood into the cells. So it’s almost like your body doesn’t want there to be glucose in the blood stream…this is a topic that will be discussed during another post. Just keep that in mind. Insulin resistance occurs when our blood glucose levels REMAIN elevated with ELEVATED levels of insulin.
The marriage between weight gain and insulin resistance
This is a marriage that always ends badly. General hypothesis has always centered around the belief that our weights were simply controlled by the calories we ate or didn’t eat. This has been proven false time and time again but most of the general practitioners and dietitians you come across will still preach this methodology. In the clinical setting, doctors used an intensive conventional insulin therapy for type II Diabetics (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/16/1/21). The result was better glucose control BUT with increased weight gain. The study revolved around 14 diabetics that increased their exogenous insulin until their blood sugars normalized. At the end of the study (6 months) their body weight INCREASED on average by 19 pounds. That’s not the main point though. This body weight was a result of an average DECREASE in calories by 300 per day!
Difference between a nutrient dense food and a food that is energy dense
What makes a food nutrient dense? It’s all about controlling the ratio of nutrients to calories and specifically the types of calories that makes up the food item. Nutrient dense foods have more protein (which helps to prevent loss of muscle “lean body mass”), more fiber (helps to make you feel full and slows digestion), less fat (assuming you’ve changed your metabolism so you can burn the fat you’re currently storing around your abdomen), less digestible carbohydrates (which is extremely important in controlling blood sugar and insulin levels).
Types of Nutrient dense foods
Vegetables: Spinach, watercress, endive, asparagus, chicory greens, basil, coriander, chard, mushrooms, lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, beet greens, radicchio, summer squash, mustard greens, snap beans, cucumber, cabbage, collards, peppers, onions, edamame, Brussels sprouts, peas, kale, winter squash, eggplant, carrots, and a few others..
Seafood: Crab, lobster, crayfish, cod, oysters, halibut, shrimp, flounder, Pollock, salmon, trout, rockfish, white fish, sturgeon, scallops, whiting, octopus, clams, sardines
Animals: Ham (lean), liver from all animals, chicken breast, pork chops, turkey meat, leg ham, lean beef (90/10), veal
Diary & Eggs: Cream cheese (low fat), kefir, whole eggs, egg yolk, 2% milk
Types of Energy dense foods
Refined/Processed carbs such as grains like wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley, popcorn, millet, quinoa, bulger, buckwheat, sorghum, rye, triticale, etc.
Oils such as canola, sunflower, vegetable, corn, soybean, safflower, grapeseed and cottonseed.
Sugars as in sucrose, fructose, agave nectar, honey, dextrose, cane juice, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, etc..
For more information on this topic, please check out my earlier post here.