The Secret to Eating More

Calorie density – the secret to eating more, losing weight, and improving your overall health.

Changing the caloric density of the foods one consumes on a regular daily basis can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Relatively small changes to daily meals can cut down on the number of calories consumed. Studies indicate that on average men and women tend to eat approximately the same amount of food (in weight) each and every day (Bell, Castellanos, Pelkman, Thowart, & Rolls, 1998; Shintani, Beckham, Brown, O’Connor, 2001; Shintani, Hughes, Beckham & O’Connor 1991; Kendall, Levitsky, Strupp, & Lissner, 1991; Rolls et al., 1999). These studies provide further evidence that if the amount of food (in weight) individuals eat never changes but the types of foods consumed do change, choosing low calorically dense foods can lead to weight loss. Research conducted by Rolls, Roe, Beach, Kris-Etherton, 2005 and Ello-Martin, 2004, have shown that consuming low calorically dense foods can result in weight loss. According to Rolls, et al., (2005), “consuming two servings of low energy-dense soup daily led to 50% greater weight loss than consuming the same amount of energy as high energy-dense snack food” (p. 1052).

In the video below Dr. John McDougall explains calorie density in this short video clip. The Key to weight loss? Understanding calorie density


Changing the types of foods consumed to be mostly those relatively low in fat which are whole plant-based foods, and limiting or avoiding the consumption of nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados while simultaneously avoiding meat, dairy, processed foods, and oils can result in weight loss. Subsequently, adding foods to the diet that are high in fat and thus calorically dense like meat, dairy, and processed foods, nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and oils can lead to weight gain.

Audio: Losing Weight without Losing Your Mind

According to Shintani et al. (2001), who placed individuals on an ad libitum low fat Hawaiian diet (ad libitum diet meaning they could eat as much as they wanted as long as calories from fat did not exceed 12%) lost weight, had a drop in blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and had improved blood glucose levels (Para. 4). Another study conducted by Shintani et al., (1991) placed participants on the “Waianae diet program… which was a pre-western-contact Hawaiian diet” consisting of 7% fat; participants were encouraged to eat until they were full and in just 21 days the average drop in weight was 14 pounds, there was also a noticeable drop in cholesterol as well as blood pressure (p. 1647). Similar research conducted by McDougall et al. (2014) showed that following an ad libitum diet consisting of 7% of calories from fat for just 7 days resulted in an average weight loss of 3 pounds, while simultaneously dropping both cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in patients adhering to the diet. McDougall et al. (2014) found that “Low-fat diet, starch based, vegan diet eaten ad libitum for 7 days results in significant favorable changes in commonly tested biomarkers that are used to predict future risks for cardiovascular disease and metabolic diseases” (p. 1). These diets do not allow for the moderate consumption of animal products.

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