Over the years, I have consistently seen people very upset about how they feel “so hungry” when they are trying to lose weight. Exercise can bring on the hunger pains. The trouble is many people do not understand the concept of food items that are calorie dense. What does this mean? It is the amount of calories in a certain portion. Pretend you have a cup of grapes versus a cup of raisins. The cup raisins have more calories even though the portion appears to be the same. When a food is calorie dense, you have to decrease the portion. This is why people feel as though they are starving themselves when they are trying to diet. Most people take cues on how much they should eat by portion size and tend to choose the same amount of portions every day. By replacing the calorie dense foods with those that have a lower density, they can keep the same portion size without feeling like they are being deprived.
A good way to think of this is by looking at a small fry bag full of fries and a small fry bag full of carrots actually weight more than the fries and the volume is the same of both the fries and the carrots. However the carrots are only 0.43 calories per gram while the fries are 3.34 calories per gram. The more calories per gram, the greater the energy density. Therefore fries are more calorie dense. Foods with high calories density help a person GAIN weight while those with lower density help you lose weight. Foods that contain water, that are high in fiber and low in fat help with lower calorie density making a person feel fuller even though they are having fewer calories. As you see from the picture, you can eat a lot more all day long with lower density foods and not as much with higher density foods. This is why food choices become so important.