What's our approach then to help people lose weight! It comes down to nutrient density and calorie density. Our bodies are pretty intelligent and for most people they know when to stop eating in order to maintain our weight. The thing that happens when people eat processed foods, the triggers that tell us to stop eating don't get tripped. The other way that these triggers don't go off is when we consume food at a fast pace!
So our approach is to consume high quality, whole foods at a slow pace and stop when you are close to being full and you will likely lose weight. If you are trying to maintain, then you eat to being full. Yeah there is certainly some nuance that can come into play around macronutrients and timing but for the most part this strategy works.
This is where the question of, what weighs more... a pound of broccoli or a pound of nachos? Let's breakdown this comparison:
I mentioned it was an interesting experience... what that means is I actually became physically ill by consuming one whole pound of broccoli. My stomach and GI tract just couldn't handle processing that amount of broccoli. The nachos, no problem... I was eating again in a few hours. Why this happened I don't know the exact answer. Fiber content maybe, but I've consumed 11 grams of fiber in one sitting before this. Vitamin or mineral overdose, possible but not probable. If you have an answer let me know, I'm curious.
To put things in perspective a bit on whether or not this is a lot of food. The average American eats between 3 and 5 pounds of food per day, we will call it 4 on average. So, a one pound meal probably isn't that unusual. To break things down a bit further, the average American consumes around 2,700 calories per day. So doing a little math the average pound of food that an American consumes is around 675 calories (2,700 calories divided by 4 pounds of food). Based on the nutrition facts, you can see that broccoli falls WELL below that average and the nachos a fair amount above that number. Can you see how eating whole foods and especially non starchy veggies can help a person consume fewer calories?
The reason a lot of diets fail I believe is because our body is naturally satiated by a certain poundage of food. If all you are doing is eating smaller portions of your current foods your body is going to crave more food to fill itself up. I wrote up a whole other post on this topic, Are You Smoking Shorter Cigarettes to Get Healthy? If you aren't filling your body with a certain poundage of food you either need to resort to some incredible willpower or you will likely binge a time or two.
If your goal is weight loss and you don't want to micromanage every gram of food that goes into your body here's what we would recommend:
- Fill half your plate with nutrient dense, non-starchy vegetables at each meal
- Eat a palm size portion of protein with each meal
- The remainder of your plate can either be a starch like potatoes or rice or it can be a fat like avocado or cheese
- Sit at a table and slow down when you eat and don't forget to chew your food
- Stop eating when you feel that first sign of being full
- DO NOT eat a pound of broccoli by itself!