Eating more can help you lose weight. It goes against what you have been told all these years but the science and evidence is overwhelmingly available to show that eating more of the right foods can help you lose weight.
Here’s how it works…
It all starts with the calorie myth. The calorie itself is an excellent scientific unit of measure for energy. It is the amount of energy that is required to increase the temperature of 1kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius.
To lose weight, you require an energy deficiency, where the amount of energy (calories) you consume is less than the amount of energy (calories) you use in a day. This will force your body to use its stored forms of energy like glycogen and fat and you will lose weight.
Using these concepts, it makes complete sense to say, that to lose weight we must consume less calories than we use regardless of the source of those calories. If a 50kg man uses 2000Cal in a day he has to make sure that he consumes less calories to lose weight. How he gets those calories doesn’t matter if the total amount is less than 2000cal he will lose weight.
This concept makes perfect sense but is incorrect because the calorie does not work well when it comes to measuring food energy. The calorie simplifies food to a unit measure of energy and hides all its other qualities both good and bad.
The calorie works well in a science lab but when that piece of food goes into your mouth everything changes. Food has many properties that take effect when we consume it. These properties of food ultimately determine the amount of energy that the food will provide and this will make some foods better than others when it comes to losing weight.
Foods that have these weight loss properties can be eaten in excess regardless of their calorie content. These properties are discussed below and a list of these foods can be found at the end.
Food Properties that allow you to Eat more and Still Lose Weight
- Food Density
Foods can be energy dense or nutrient dense. Energy dense foods are foods that are high in empty calories like alcohol, sugar, and processed carbohydrates. Nutrient dense foods have a high nutrient content, made up of many components that include minerals and vitamins.
Foods that are energy dense with empty calories, have a high energy to mass content. This means they have a lot of calories packed into a small volume. A shot of alcohol or a teaspoon of syrup has a lot of calories in it.
The problem here is that we can consume a lot of these foods before we even notice that we have eaten so much. It’s easy to eat a bowl of ice cream in a few minutes compared to eating a steak in that time.
Foods that have a high density of nutrients are a lot harder to eat quickly as they are also larger than foods that are high in just energy. One teaspoon of sugar contains the same calories as 9 teaspoons of carrots. This allows you to eat a lot more of the foods high in nutrient and not gain weight.
- Thermic Effect of Food
The thermic effect of foods, also called diet induced thermogenesis (DIT), is the energy our body uses to digest a meal. Starting with the process of eating right up until a meal is digested requires a lot of energy. It requires so much energy, that it makes up about 10-20% of our daily total energy expenditure. Processing and digesting a meal uses more energy in a day than physical activity.
This thermic effect of foods plays a huge role in differentiating foods when it comes to weight loss. Foods that require more energy to be digested contribute more to the energy deficiency that we need to lose weight. Some foods like grapefruit require more energy to be digested than they contribute.
The three food macronutrients, protein, fats, and carbohydrates have a huge variability in thermic effect. Fats cost about 2-3% of their energy content to digest, carbohydrates about 6-8% and protein costs a massive 25-30% of their energy to digest.
Using just the thermic effect, you can see that eating 100 calories of protein will leave you with 75 calories after digested, compared to 100 calories of fat, which will leave you with 98 calories after digested.
You can eat a lot more of foods that have a high thermic effect because the energy(calories) left over after digestion is much lower than the amount you consume.
- Hormonal Effect of Food
Foods are made up of a lot more components than just energy. These components that include minerals, chemicals and vitamins have various effects on our bodies.
These components of food usually carry out their effects by regulating our hormones. This effect on our hormones contributes to the foods ability to cause weight loss. This effect on hormones is one of the main causes of weight gain after 30. The commonly affected hormones are:
Foods that are high in carbohydrates and empty calories cause a sharp increase in insulin. Insulin is the main metabolic hormone that signals all parts of our body to store energy. This results in our body absorbing as much energy as possible and converting it to fat. Foods that are high in protein prevent this spiking of insulin and normalises the way in which our bodies use energy. Spices such as cinnamon are also known to have this effect on insulin. The ability of a food to effect insulin levels is known as the glycaemic effect of food. Foods with a low glycaemic effect promote weight loss.
- Hunger Hormones
The hunger hormone ghrelin, is also effected by different types of foods. Foods high in protein cause a massive drop in ghrelin. Ghrelin is the hormone that is directly responsible for creating hunger, it gets released when our stomachs are empty and decreases after we eat. Foods that are nutrient dense and high in volume can also decrease ghrelin as they stretch the stomach due to their size. Foods high in fibre can also have a similar effect on ghrelin. This ability of certain foods to decrease hunger is known as the satiety effect.
Foods with a low glycaemic effect and a high satiety effect can be eaten in excess as they contribute to weight loss.
2 More Reasons to Eat More Food to Lose Weight
These two reasons are the consequences of eating less. When we restrict ourselves of nutrition our bodies undergo many changes that result in weight gain.
- Prone to Binge Eating
Restrictive diets and eating less to lose weight is psychologically stressful. When we restrict ourselves of food various hormones get released to prompt us to eat. These hormones do everything they can to make you eat and resisting them takes a feat of tremendous strength. Most of us usually fail and end up binging on junk food. Eating more of the right foods prevents binges.
- Down Regulates of Thyroid Hormones Decreases Metabolism
Thyroid hormones are the backbone of our metabolism. They are integrally involved in so many aspects of energy usage and storage. A decrease in thyroid hormone levels can cause instantly drop your metabolism and cause rapid weight gain.
Restricting yourself of food, sends warning signals to your body and your body responds by decreasing thyroid levels to save energy.
When we return to normal eating, our thyroid levels take some time to return to their higher levels. This causes weight gain and is the reason behind the yo-yo effect of dieting.
It is possible to eat more food and lose weight. Choose foods that have a high nutrient content, a high thermic effect, a low glycaemic effect and high satiety effects.
Foods that contain some or all of these properties can be eaten in greater quantities as they contribute to weight loss. These foods include your protein meals such as eggs, meat and fish, all vegetables, and the good complex carbohydrates.