The density of food is oftentimes a difficult concept for people to work around. In science, density refers to the amount of mass that is confined within a set space; objects are more dense if they have more mass crammed into the same amount of space. The same is true of food, although the types of density that are typically considered are related to calories and nutrients.
Calorically dense foods and nutrient dense foods are not the same. In fact, one type of food is generally considered to be beneficial to your health, while another is best to be avoided, particularly if you’re looking to lose weight. Being aware of the relative density of the foods that you eat can help you to make wise choices at mealtime, that will help you to maintain the weight that you have or to achieve a healthier weight that is right for you.
1. Nutrient Dense Foods Keep You Full
Foods that are dense in nutrients tend to be those that require your body to work harder in order to break them down. It takes longer for your body to break down complex carbohydrates and foods that have a mixture of different beneficial nutrients. This keeps you working harder and actually keeps you from feeling hungry for a longer period of time. Those nutrient dense foods that also pack the nutrients into a small caloric package are especially good, as they keep you full without requiring that you eat a large load of calories as well.
2. Nutrient Dense Foods Speed up Metabolism
Eating nutrient dense foods can help to speed up your metabolism in general, as your body works to process the foods that you eat. This means that you’ll be better able to deal with other foods that you eat as well, regardless of how nutrient dense they are. You’ll then be able to eat more food and not gain weight, provided that you maintain your metabolism level.
3. Calorie Dense Foods Give Short Term Energy
Many calorie dense foods do not provide lasting energy for your body. This means that they are more readily broken up and processed by the body in a short period of time. They will then have a benefit of giving you a short term burst of energy, but will leave you feeling hungry later on. Because you’ve ingested a large quantity of calories and a small amount of food, it’s even worse to continue to eat after that; you’ll be more likely to gain weight.
4. Calorie Dense Foods Are Easy to Overeat
Foods that are small in size but dense in calories may be difficult to judge. You may eat a larger quantity of food because it takes more to fill you up. However, it’s best to know the relative caloric density of any food you eat beforehand so that you can plan your portion size accordingly. Smaller portions will deliver the proper number of calories without running the risk of overeating and gaining weight.