• Donnington Grove

Eating more to weigh less

Could adding fruit to your regular diet enhance weight loss?

A 2008 study in Appetite put it to the test. If you add any food – even healthy food – to people’s diets, won’t they gain weight? No, subjects who ate three apples or pears every day on top of their regular diet lost a couple of pounds. Was that reduction due to fiber since our gut bacteria can create antiobesity compounds from fiber? Good question. That’s why the researchers also had a cookie group: Subjects ate either three apples, three pears, or three cookies with enough oats in them to have about the same amount of fiber as the fruit. Despite the fiber, adding cookies to one’s diet did not lead to weight loss. It turns out the weight-reducing secret of fruit is probably its low energy density, meaning you get a lot of food for just a few calories, so it fills you up.

As described by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics “(e)nergy density is a relatively new concept that has been identified as an important factor in body weight control…” It is the amount of calories per unit weight of a food or beverage. Water and fiber, for example, provide a significant amount of weight without adding calories. “Thus, foods high in water and/or fiber are generally lower in energy density. On the other hand, because dietary fat provides the greatest amount of energy per gram (calories per unit weight), foods high in fat are generally high in energy density.”

Researchers in Hawaii put people on a traditional Hawaiian diet with all the plant foods they could eat. The subjects lost an average of 17 pounds in just 21 days, resulting in better cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugars, and blood pressure. Caloric intake dropped 40%, but not by eating less food. In fact, they lost 17 pounds in 21 days while eating more food.  But, because plants tend to be so calorically dilute, one can stuff oneself without seeing the same kind of weight gain. Lower energy dense diets also tend to contain healthier foods, so we get the best of both worlds.

Morning Grain Bowls

From The How Not to Die Cookbook by Dr. Michael Greger with Gene Stone, recipes by
Robin Robertson
Makes: 4 Servings
Difficulty: Easy

Leftover cooked grains are a great way to start the day and quick, too! If you don’t have leftover grains, cook up a pot of your favorite grain the day before and you’ll have the start of something good in the morning.

3 cups cooked whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, freekeh, or oats)
3/4 cup cooked cannellini beans, mashed
2 cups almond milk
3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, grated
(or 1 teaspoon ground)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen mixed berries
1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons date syrup (optional)

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the cooked grains, beans, almond milk, flax-seeds, turmeric, and ginger (if using). Mix well. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until warm but not too hot. Divide the grain mixture among four bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 cup of the berries and one-quarter of the sliced banana. Drizzle each serving with 1 tablespoon of date syrup, if desired.