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Want to lose weight? Eat more, not less!

New research shows that eating low energy density 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 density foods – foods that contain fewer calories per gram – is more effective for weight loss than traditional calorie counting.

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

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

The women were monitored further to explore longer-term effects. Those following a plan based around low energy density foods (Slimming World’s Food Optimising plan) for 14 weeks – as well as attending a weekly Slimming World group for support – also reported feeling more in control of their food choices and more confident in their ability to stick to their weight-loss plan. They also lost significantly more weight than their calorie-counting counterparts – 6.2% of their 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 density foods, people can eat a larger amount of food and feel more satisfied while they lose weight. This means 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 density foods without restriction, as well as measured amounts of higher energy density 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 members to develop realistic healthy habits that they can keep up for life.’

The full publication can be found here

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