Choose Nutrient Dense Foods


My goal now is to maintain my current weight. I realize that my journey now is living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining my current weight or stay below my current weight. I decided to attend a wellness class this week; the name of the class was Better Body Better.

There are so many diets available now. I really do not prefer programs that deprive me of certain foods like carbs. I prefer to have a treat every now and then. One of the things the dietitian said in the class was that we can consume all foods in moderation. It is pretty difficult to eat clean every single day.  The key is to eat less of the foods that lack nutrients and eat more nutrient dense foods.

The dietitian mainly stressed the importance of choosing nutrient dense foods. Nutrient dense foods give you the most nutrients for the fewest amounts of calories.  In other words, nutrient dense foods give you the “biggest bang for the buck.” You get lots of nutrients, and it doesn’t cost you much in terms of calories.  There is only a limited amount of food you can eat in a single day. In order to maximize the amount of nutrients you take in, it makes sense to spend your “calorie budget” wisely. The best way to do that is to simply eat the foods that carry the greatest amount and variety of nutrients.

Nutrient density — an example

Let’s take a quick example. Let’s say you’re low on vitamin E, and decide to eat a food that is not nutrient dense. A slice of run-of-the-mill white bread will give you about 1/10th of a milligram of vitamin E. This 1/10th of a milligram will cost you about 80 calories (the number of calories in a slice of many white breads). Now let’s compare this number and amount to a slice of 100% whole wheat bread.

Whole grain products, like most whole foods, are nutrient dense. A slice of 100% whole wheat bread will cost you approximately the same number of calories (about 70-75 calories) but the vitamin E content will be substantially different. Instead of getting only 100 micrograms of vitamin E in exchange for your 70-80 calories, with 100% whole grain bread, you will get between 250 and 500 micrograms. Or, to put it somewhat differently, you would have to eat between 2-1/2 and 5 slices of run-of-the-mill white bread in order to get the same amount of vitamin E as is found in one slice of 100% whole wheat bread. And those extra 1-1/2 to 4 slices would cost you as much as 320 additional calories.

Getting your nutrients from nutrient dense foods is clearly the way to go! Why? Because in this example, it would save you about 320 calories. While that amount might not sound like a lot, in terms of average walking, it would mean an additional 45 minutes of walking just to break even. It would also be the equivalent of a 33-pound weight gain every year if it happened on a daily basis.  Choosing a majority of nutrient dense foods will allow you to use your calories saved toward that treat that your desire.

How many calories should you consume on a daily basis? I recommend you use a tool such as My Fitness Pal or Calorie Count. Once you have an account established you can set your goals. Those applications would tell you exactly how many calories you need to consume in order to loose or maintain your current weight. It’s simple; if you stay within your daily calorie intake you WILL lose weight. If exercise is added, that is an extra bonus; will be able to consume little more calories and still drop pounds.

A calorie is a calorie, but keep in mind that if you choose more of the nutrient dense foods, you can eat so much more it!

Some examples of nutrient dense foods:

Broccoli, cabbage, berries, oranges, kiwi, beans and lentils, brown rice, carrots, melons, kale, spinach, peas, peppers, pineapples, etc. The list goes on and on.

 Final tips:

Use a smaller plate for meals

Stop at the FIRST sign of fullness

Drink a lot of water through the day (or before your meals)

Practice portion control

Eat a small snack every 2-3 hours

Helpful links:







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