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Energy-dense foods, what are these? There is an increasing global trend for health-conscious diets. More and more people are engaging in more holistic diets and wellness practices as a means to stay fit and even to lose some weight.
Several new and old wellness practices are also put into the limelight as more people are looking for a diet that can lead them to their goal. All of which either aims for weight management, weight loss, or simply to cure diseases such as diabetes. 
What Is A Diet?
But before that, we need to first define what diet means. According to our reliable dictionary, Diet (n) is defined as “food and drink regularly provided or consumed.” and (v.) as “to cause to take food.”
Diet is not a restriction from something but the normality of eating or feeding. It is a way or a habit of how we eat. Diet is the pattern of how we eat.
There are simply a good number of diets that people can adapt to.
If we search it up, we can shorten the list to these top 7 most used diets which will slightly discuss later:
- Whole 30
- Low-FODMAP diet
- Intermittent fasting diet (time-restrictive eating)
- The Mediterranean diet
- The DASH diet
- The MIND diet
If you are following a specific diet, let us know your experiences on it.
Although all of these have their own specific way of making our body better, there is one thing very common among all these diets- calories.
What Is A Calorie?
We may be familiar with calories because we always try to burn them or restrict them. But contrary to popular belief, a calorie is not evil. It is not something that will give us disease. Instead, calories are essential to our daily life.
Calories in scientific terms are the amount of heat we need to get water to increase its temperature by 1-degree Celsius. Food calorie often refers to kilocalorie (kcal) rather than just calorie in measurement.
It is the amount of energy to keep the body running. Like a steamboat, we need coals to make the turbines turn. The coal in a steamboat is the calorie we take in.
However, it does not mean that the more calories we have, the better we can function. It is still dependent on our body’s metabolic rate.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
If you haven’t encountered this term yet, BMR is simply the calculation of how much calories our body needs to function properly. Basal Metabolic Rate varies according to many factors.
BMR is the most basic calculation of the body’s need to function at a resting state. No work-outs or step counts are needed. BMR is simply how much energy the body needs for you to wake up and stay alive.
On the other hand, calorie count includes the consideration of our lifestyles. On top of the basic BMR question, there is also the need for us to answer like,
- How active are we?
- Are we sedentary, active, less active?
Knowing your daily calorie requirement is actually very important. It will not only help us maintain a normal Body Mass Index but can also help us lose weight while avoiding severe consequences.
In a more scientific approach, the food we take in have different component
Each of these components has an important role in the metabolic rate of the body. Imbalance or going beyond or below the normal levels of these components can lead to diseases both mild to severe.
No matter what our diet is, for the body to function well. We should not go way below our BMR. We should be smart in choosing the food we take in.
Instead of just choosing tasty or good-looking food, we should consider its calorie content. An easier way to know this is having a good knowledge of the energy-density classification of the food we take in.
By knowing the energy-density of the food we eat, we can have a good mix and match of different energy density foods and get the most out of the dishes we eat.
What Does Energy-Dense Mean?
Energy-density simply means the amount of energy the food contains in terms of calories. The weight of the food we eat is not the only determining factor for the calorie count of the food.
Food that has the same weight, which is scientifically mean mass, does not equate to the same amount of calories in it.
Like how sweet potato fries of the same amount can have more calories than white potato fries. Another example is eating a tub of Ice cream can lead us to almost 1500 Kcal which if we juxtapose it to eating “real” food, like protein chicken or potato or even rice, 1500 kcal is like 3 set meals of real food.
It is not the amount but the amount of protein, carbs, and fat our food contains.
We can calculate energy density through this equation:
Energy density = amount of calories (in kcal)/ /weight (grams)
Using the ratio, food can be classified as such:
- Very low energy density foods = less than 0.6 kcal/g
- Low energy density foods = 0.6 to 1.5 kcal/g
- Medium energy density foods = 1.5 to 4 kcal/g
- High energy density foods = more than 4 kcal/g
As we have said earlier, the proportion of micronutrients that is a carbohydrate, fat, and protein in food plus the water and fiber content are the major determinant of energy density in food.
The general rule we should remember is that:
more water content means less energy-dense food
Also, high energy-dense food does not necessarily mean high nutrient-dense food.
Let’s dissect these so we can better understand what energy-dense food means
High Energy-dense Foods
High-energy dense foods in the scale fall in the range of more than 4kcal/ grams of the food. This kind of food is mostly starchy food which is heavy on sugar but has very low on water.
High energy density food does not immediately mean that we will feel full after consuming a lot of it. Instead, high energy density food gives you more calories to burn. Some high energy density foods are smaller in size than liquid-like ice creams or even butter and oil. Eating these does not have the same satisfaction as eating a good amount of meat or potato.
A fat dense food, even in a small amount can give high calories to the body.
Eating too much high energy density food can actually make us fatter. That is because we are consuming beyond what our body requires.
Example Of High Energy-dense Foods
Examples of high-energy-dense foods are high on carbs count, low water content, low on fiber content, and of course high-calorie content.
- Ice Cream
- Fried Foods
Medium Energy-dense Foods
Medium energy-dense food is a rather vague spectrum. If the equation, medium energy-dense foods are that food that falls within 1.5 to 4 kcal/g.
It can be a bit confusing but medium energy-density foods are those with more protein content but have a good amount of fat in it too.
It can vary. We can have one whole chicken but not all the parts have equal calories. Different parts have different nutritional values but we can classify them into red or white meat.
Medium energy-dense foods are like white meat chicken with skin. White meat is less fatty but has skin. Or it can be a red meat part without the skin.
Example Medium Energy-dense Foods
- Salmon (grilled)
- Low-fat cheese and dairy products
- Lean Red Meat
Low Energy-dense Foods
In comparison, we immediately jump to low energy-dense foods.
Low energy-dense foods are foods that are high in water content and fiber. While low energy-dense foods are more recommended for weight loss, do not forget to also mix in some other energy-dense foods.
What is important is always to have a balanced diet.
A good low energy-dense food is high on protein. It is satisfying to the tummy and a few hundred grams can already fill the stomach. Moreover, we get less hungry for a longer period of time.
Low energy-dense foods are also low in carbohydrates, fat, and calories.
When we want to lose weight, a large amount of low energy-dense foods are pushed to the diet plan and less high energy-dense foods are suggested.
Example Of Low Energy-dense Foods
Examples of low-energy-dense foods are those that are high in proteins.
- White meat
- Sea Moss
- Fat-free dairy products
Should We Still Eat High Energy-dense Foods?
Yes, we can still eat them but mostly at a smaller portion compared to other levels of energy-dense foods. What more, high energy-dense foods may increase our risk of developing diseases such as diabetes.
As much as possible lessen the number of high energy-dense food in our diet so we can have a more filling experience.
“We eat food to be satiated.”
We need to moderate and have a properly balanced diet. The body needs to maintain equilibrium to function properly.
Remember that the body needs calories but, it is not the only thing the body needs.
We also need nutrients.
Focusing on low energy-dense food can also cause us to have fewer fats intake. Fats are also important because we need them for hormone production and regulation.
Fats are also important to the body. The body needs a good balance of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. While we strive to take only low energy-dense foods, we must consider that the food we are taking has enough nutrients for everyday function.
A little detail on fats. Fats like calories are often misunderstood. Fats are necessary to body function such as hormone regulation and excess energy storage. However, fats like calories can also be harmful. Too many calories can lead to unwanted weight gain. While too many fats in the body can lead to build-ups in the vessels.
Aside from just getting enough nutrients, it is important to know how we are getting them.
Like how fats can help us be healthy but can also cause us harm. How do we make sure that what we are eating will make us healthy?
We can do it by choosing the kind of food we take. Like how high energy-dense foods vs low energy-dense foods are.
Low-Density Lipoprotein and High-Density Lipoprotein
Lipoproteins are special micronutrients that are made up of lipids and protein. They are the carrier of cholesterol in the cells. 
In simple terms, they are called Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL and HDL are lipoproteins carrying cholesterol. One is good for the body while the other is harmful.
LDL is your bad cholesterol. They can form plaques in the blood vessels and some organs if we have too much of this in our body.
Too much of these can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Higher risks of heart attacks have also been observed from people with higher LDL concentration in their blood.
HDL is your good cholesterol. HDL is responsible for cleaning up LDL in the body. They are “scavengers” of LDL in the body to help the body process the cholesterol.
HDL carries LDL to the designated organ of processing. They hunt those LDL particles roaming around the body, especially in parts where they can build up or hinder the flow of the blood vessels.
Having a good amount of HDL in the body somehow protects the blood vessel from plaque build-up that may cause serious cardiovascular diseases.
How You Can Eat Healthily
Given that, aside from just having low energy-dense food, we also need to factor in what are the nutrients we can get from the food.
A Healthy Mix
Now that we know the basics, how we should eat our food depends on us. A good healthy mix is a meal packed with low energy-dense foods with a little bit of high energy-dense foods. Do not totally avoid fats but choose those that are beneficial to the body.
Similarly, add in activities to our daily life to keep our body active and in shape. Take a small walk or maybe light cardio. It can help a lot in blood circulation.
Supplement Our Health
Aside from the usual, it is also recommended that we take natural supplements to help the body. Like us, the organs can also get tired and may need help.
Sea Moss Whole Foods
Sea moss is a popular low energy-dense food that is highly suggested by nutritionists to be included in our diet. Irish sea moss like the wildcrafted sea moss of earthbal is very nutritious and filling. Plus, it has a whole lot of nutrients so we don’t have to sweat our mind out on what food to eat.
Being healthy is not just losing weight, it is having a good and healthy diet. Knowing about low energy-dense foods is just of the secret on how we can enjoy the benefit of eating real foods compared to just those sugar-filled goodies.
Pick your food smartly and enjoy “real” good food without worry.