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Study shows it is possible to reduce calorie intake by eating more food rather than less

New research published in the Journal of Nutrition shows that eating low energy dense foods allows people to reduce their calorie intake while eating more food – not less. 

The Solutions for Weight through Psychology, Satiation and Satiety study, led by the University of Leeds and published in the Journal of Nutrition, has found that eating a diet based around low energy dense foods – foods that contain fewer calories per gram – is more effective for weight loss than traditional calorie counting.

The study compared women following Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan, which is based around low energy dense foods, to another group of women following the NHS Choices Live Well programme, centred around calorie counting.

All participants attended test days at the University of Leeds’ Human Appetite Research Unit, eating low energy dense meals for two days and high energy dense meals for two days. Despite eating a larger volume of food on the low energy dense days – on average 1.2kg more, their total calorie intake was lower at an average of 1,901 calories compared to 2,958 on the high energy dense days. Both groups reported feeling less hungry, fuller and having less desire to eat more food after eating lower energy dense foods, which include fruit and vegetables, lean meat, rice, and more.

The women were also monitored to explore longer-term effects. Those following a plan based around low energy dense foods (Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan) for 14 weeks – as well as attending a weekly Slimming World group for support – also reported increased feelings of control around their food choices and a greater confidence in their ability to stick to their weight-loss plan, as well as losing significantly more weight than their calorie-counting counterparts – a clinically significant 6.2% body weight compared to 3.8%.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World’s Head of Nutrition and Research, says: “This study provides clear evidence that calorie counting and eating smaller portions is not the answer when it comes to weight loss.

“By filling up on low energy dense foods people can eat a larger amount of food and feel more satisfied while they lose weight so they feel better able to stay on track, and they never have to feel guilty about what they’re eating or how much is on their plate. Slimming World has promoted this approach for decades with members able to enjoy a long list of low energy dense foods without restriction, as well as measured amounts of higher energy dense foods, like chocolate and alcohol, to ensure they never feel deprived. Combined with powerful group support, which allows members to share problems and solutions, this helps people to develop realistic healthy habits that they can keep up for life.”

Read the full paper here 


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