Calorie Density Facts Can Keep Diets From Sinking

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On any given day 40 percent of women and 20 percent of men say they are trying to lose weight. Sales of low-fat and fat-free foods are soaring, but so are obesity levels. What's wrong with this picture?

According to Robert Pritikin, author of The Pritikin Principle: The Calorie Density Solution (Time-Life Trade Publishing, $24.95), watching foods' fat levels has its merits, but the key to effective, long-term weight loss may be learning more about calorie density.

With the Pritikin Principle Diet, you can have your chips and guacamole, too. For example, guacamole and corn chips have a similar percentage of fat, but the water and fiber in the avocados provide dietary bulk without the calories. Because avocados fill you up faster than chips alone the end result of eating the two together may be the consumption of fewer calories.

Calorie density, says Pritikin, Director of the Pritikin Longevity Centers and Spas, is the key component to weight loss in every successful diet. By ranking foods by their concentration or density of calories, a dieter can eat and combine foods that are low in caloric density that will make him or her more full while eating satisfying food containing fewer calories.

Here are a few tips from Pritikin to help promote weight loss:

  1. Eat whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables, beans, and fruits, all of which are low in calorie density.

  2. Limit your intake of foods whose calories have been dried and concentrated during processing. For example, oatmeal, pasta and tofu are lower than dried foods such as breads, bagels and crackers.

  3. Add low-calorie dense foods to a meal. By adding vegetables, vegetable dips such as salsa, bean dip with salsa, adding guacamole to tortilla chips, you will effectively lower the caloric density of the chips.

  4. Exercise and lower the caloric density of meals and you will achieve weight loss without hunger.

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