High energy density

Preferring to eat larger meal portions that satisfy hunger is only natural. One possible byproduct of larger meals is gradual weight gain. Calorie content typically goes up with increasing portion size and so does the likelihood of overeating. This does not have to be the case. You can choose to eat larger meals and remain on track to your ideal body composition.

Energy density of a meal refers to the calorie content of food. So peanut butter has high energy density due to the high fat and protein content. A green salad, on the other hand, has a low energy density as most of it is water. If becoming leaner is your goal then managing calorie density of your food without compromising on portion size would be a very sensible strategy.

The feeling of hunger subsides in response to a number of factors. Including but not limited to:

  • Overall calorie content of each meal.
  • Fat content.
  • Protein content.
  • Carbohydrate content.
  • Water content
  • Volume of food (portion size) etc.

Because each of these factors can be manipulated individually it is not necessary to reduce the portion sizes of your meals.

I assume that you wish to lose fat and minimise muscle loss. For this you will need to maximise the nutritional value of your meals while reducing the calorie content of your food in line with your goals.  Do one or more of the following and you’ll get there in no time

  • Swap MOST of your starchy carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread, potatoes etc) for vegetables. This will allow you to increase the micronutrient content of your meals, bulk out your portions, all
    Low energy density

    while reducing the carbohydrate content.


  • The above step will also increase the water content of your meals. Not only this will aid digestion but the increased volume of your food will act on the gut receptors to promote the feeling of satiety without the need to overload on calories.
  • Keep the fats in your diet. These must come from sources rich in Omega 3,6,9. Most natural foods rich in “good” fats will give you enough to cover the biological function of fats in the body. Oily fish, eggs, nuts, oils etc. If in doubt supplement your diet with fish oil tablets.
  • By sticking to the above step you will minimise sugar and food rich in saturated and trans-saturated fatty acids. This will greatly contribute to improving your fat to muscle ratio as well as overall health.
  • Avoid reducing the protein quantity. Make sure that some is present at each meal and if you are hungry between meals add a little to your top up snack.

So what are some practical ways to reduce the energy density of your meals without resorting to green salads only?

There are many options and you will have to find one that works for you. Firstly try to swap your usual carbohydrates for ones that are just as nutritious in terms of vitamins and minerals but offer less energy density for the same amount of food. For example, instead of eating rice or pasta on regular bases try to switch to options like quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, beans and other pulses.

Quinoa - say "Keen-waa"

Quinoa is my personal favourite. Believed to be originated in Peruvian Andes it is a delicious seed that contains essential amino acids and is high in calcium, phosphorus, and iron. When cooked it is not too dissimilar from Couscous in texture.

Experiment with the other options mentioned as they are all high in fibre, nutrients, protein and contain only a fraction of carbohydrates of its other starchy alternatives. Secondly, start your meals with salads. Their low energy density will preload your meals meaning that you will end up eating less during the main dish. Another option is to start experimenting with soups as a starter – one of the quickest ways to satisfy hunger without reducing the vitamin and mineral content from your diet.

The three options above are a simple way of bulking out your meals without taking away the quantity. This will result in you consuming less calories without needing to reduce the meal size (too much).


With Healthy Wishes,

Dmitri Tkatchev

Read on:

Introduction to the 31 Day Fitness Kickstart

Day 1 – Water

Day 2 – Protein at breakfast

Day 3 – Meal frequency

Day 4 – Sugar

Day 5 – Lifestyle

Day 6 – Carbohydrates

Day 7 – Sleep

Day 8 – Start easy with Cardio – frequency not the quantity.

Day 9 – Get clever with your fats!

Day 10 – Find or become a role model

Day 11 – Coffee

Day 12 – Exercise improves your appetite response.

Day 13 – Consistency over intensity

Day 14 – Add cinnamon to your diet

Day 15 – Energising morning fix

Day 16 – Active rest

Day 17 – Holistic fitness.

Day 18 – Minimise muscle loss.

Day 19 – Don’t forget steady paced cardio

Day 20 – Eat plenty of fibre

Day 21 – Take up a physically demanding hobby.

Day 22 – Hire a qualified and an experienced Personal Trainer

Day 23 – Eat Cake

Day 24 – Don’t forget that the feeling of hunger is the best cue for when to eat

Day 25 – Tune in to your training

Day 27 – Eat more grapefruit

Day 28 – Eat within an hour after your workout!

Day 29 – Stay in the low range of Glycaemic Index and Glycaemic Load

Day 30 – Cycle crunches.

Day 31 – Learn to listen to your body