Weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
I DON’T. There are no secrets, I’m sorry. Calories consumed must be less than calories burned. That’s it. That’s how fat loss works. Consume less or move more or both. But there’s nuance to how we can achieve that. So if I were to try to think of something simple that a lot of people don’t take advantage of, this would be it: the physical amount of food you eat doesn’t matter as much as the calories in the food you eat.
There are people out there who eat really small amounts of food and don’t understand why they don’t lose fat but it will turn out the foods they do eat (and drink) are very calorically dense (note that extremely sedentary people or extremely petite people may need to eat very small amounts of calories to not gain weight. This is a different issue though and they could still benefit from this “secret”).
What does this mean? Let’s explain with an example. Imagine an ice cream scoop, we all know roughly what size that is right? Well a scoop of ice cream will have more calories than a scoop of potato which will have more calories than a scoop of peas. All the same size scoop but the foods have different calorie densities. More or less calories packed into the same space.
So the people that I mentioned above might be eating very small amounts of food overall but if their diet is mostly cheese and chocolate and crisps and wine and other calorically dense foods they may still struggle losing fat.
When a person builds their meals around high calorie density foods even a small meal can still be too high in calories for their daily needs.
When you make use of low calorie density foods you can build physically larger daily meals. The medium and high calorie density foods you love can still be included, it will just be in smaller amounts and not as the base of the meal. Let’s look at some examples:
Build the base of the meal around vegetables. Most vegetables are low calorie density once they aren’t covered in butter, cheese or sauce. Add your lean protein source. Protein is important when trying to lose fat as it helps (along with strength training) to ensure we’re losing fat, not muscle. And then have some carbs or fats as a side (not the base of the meal).
How might this look in real life? Well a traditional dinner of spaghetti bolognese in my house growing up would have been a giant bowl of spaghetti (medium calorie density), a ladle or two of meat sauce (medium to high calorie density depending on fat % of meat and amount of oil used), and maybe even a couple of slices of garlic bread on the side (high calorie density). There would have been some vegetable in the sauce but not a huge amount. So let’s try to make a lower calorie density version of that:
Forget the giant helping of spaghetti, let’s base the meal on the sauce. 5% mince will help. Keep oil to a minimum (using the lowest calorie sauce you can get, or making it from scratch, will help). Load the sauce up with vegetables (like really load it up) and have a giant bowl of saucey veg as the base of the meal instead of a giant bowl of spaghetti. Have a small amount of spaghetti or garlic bread as a side, not both.
Not a physically smaller meal but because of there being a lot more vegetables and less spaghetti and garlic bread the calorie density of the meal has the potential to be much lower, therefore helping towards calories consumed being less than calories burned… the foundation of fat loss!
If you’d like to chat about this further or work out other examples you can find me @AdamWrightPT on Instagram or Facebook. Have a great week!