Learn the secret to losing weight without starving yourself

The secret is to eat less energy-dense food!

Eating foods with a low energy density means that you can eat the same VOLUME of food without the extra calories. Energy density is used to describe the number of calories (kilojoules) per gram of food. Using portion control as well as consuming low energy density foods can help you to lose weight without having to count calories or feeling starving all day.

Generally, people are better able to make long-term dietary and lifestyle changes if they feel satisfied after a meal. By keeping the total volume of food the same, but choosing to eat smaller portions of energy-dense foods, and larger portions of foods with a lower energy density can take advantage of your appetite while reducing your calorie intake.

Foods with a high energy density:

  • These are generally foods that are higher in fat and/or sugar
  • Examples include: full-fat cheese, chocolate biscuits, pastries, chips, fats and oils, and sugary foods


Foods with a low energy density:

  • These are generally foods that are high in fibre and/or water
  • This includes fruits, vegetables, soups and other watery foods, as well as wholegrain cereal products.


Putting it all into practice:

  • Fill up on LOTS of veggies such as broccoli, celery, tomatoes, carrots etc. Aim to have at least half your meal made up of vegetables with at least 3 different colours at lunch and dinner
  • Use low-fat milk and dairy products so that you can have the same amount with fewer calories
  • Use wholegrain bread and cereals
  • Try to avoid replacing carbohydrates with high-fat foods (remember - carbs and protein = 17kj/g; fat = 37kj/g)
  • Buy leaner cuts of meat - ask your butcher to trim the meat for you
  • Use soups and salads to fill you up e.g. before a meal
  • Use less energy-dense foods to fill you up in between meals e.g. fruits, soups, low, fat, dairy, products
  • Follow your meal with some fruit rather than an energy-dense dessert


Using the principles of energy density means that you don't have to avoid the foods you love. The trick is to eat larger amounts of foods with a low energy density and have small portions of foods with a high energy density. For example, you can fill up on vegetables, but should only eat a small handful of nuts.

Written by Alex Porter, consultant dietician

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