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One of the most important concepts of The L.A. Diet eating plan for long term successful weight loss is choosing foods low in calorie density.  This is the most satisfying and natural way to lose weight without hunger, and the healthiest way to achieve long term success.  Its all about eating smarter, not less....and, it's easy to do!

What is calorie density?

Calorie density refers to the calories per weight of food.... not just the total number of calories per serving.

Why is "weight of food" important?

​Your stomach holds between 1 to 2 pounds of food.  As you fill up on lower calorie dense foods such as ​fresh fruit, vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, oatmeal, beans, peas, lentils, healthy soups, salads, pasta and whole grains, these foods have substantial weight and take up space in your stomach creating fullness and satiety. This helps curb your appetite and naturally signal your stomach that you're full..... it's impossible to overeat!

What makes foods low in calorie density?

Typically, low calorie dense foods contain fiber, water, and are low in fat. Most plant based foods are naturally packaged this way. However, when foods are processed, water and/or fiber are removed, and fats and/or sweeteners are added, the calorie density increases.  

If foods are high in calorie density, why aren't they filling?

You've heard the 'ole saying.... "bet you can't eat just one!"  That's because "calorie dense" foods such as breads, bagels, chips, crackers, "fat free" cookies or foods containing fat, and nuts and seeds, are light in weight and concentrated in calories.  As a result, they don't fill you up or signal your stomach that you're full, making them easy to overeat. You can pack in hundreds of calories before you notice a sense of fullness. See the Calorie Density Chart to see the comparisons of foods.

Look at the difference between a potato and potato chips.  Potatoes contain 300 calories per pound.  Potatoes have fiber and water and are low in calorie density.  On the other hand, potato chips are processed, water is removed and fat is added.  Potato chips contain over 2000 calories per pound!  If you eat until your full, you'll lose weight eating potatoes, and gain weight eating potato chips!

The good news.... weight loss without hunger!

There have been numerous studies showing the benefits of eating low calorie dense foods and achieving weight loss without hunger.  Researchers  found that people could eat as much as they wanted of "low calorie dense foods", and eat until they were full with no regard to calories or portions, and they were equally satisfied with the palatability of the foods.  At the end of these studies, all participants lost weight without effort.  Stubbs RJ, Johnstone AM, O’Reilly LM, et al. Int J Obesity 1998;22:980-7;  Penn State (2007, June 8). Calorie Density Key To Losing Weight. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 16, 2012, from­


Food                                              Calories per Pound

low calorie density
vegetables                                                       100

nonfat yogurt                                                  200
fruits                                                                 300

low to moderate calorie density
starchy vegetables                                   300-400
(potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn)

whole grains/pasta                                  300-400​
beans, peas, lentils                                  500-600

moderate calorie density

healthy, fat-free baked goods                750-850

   (The L.A. Diet recipes)

fish, poultry, lean meat                           700-850        


​high calorie dense
breads, bagels                                              1200

dried fruit                                                      1500
chips, cookies, cold cereal                          1700

Very high calorie density
​nuts, seeds, peanut butter,

potato chips,                                        2000-3000        
fats, oils, butter, dressings                           4000

​​Try these Simple and Great Weight Loss Tips on a Daily Basis:

  • Increase your fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, healthy soups and salads. Try and include at least a couple of servings with each meal in addition to snacks.  Feel free to have extra servings!  How about oatmeal for breakfast along with fruit; add a healthy soup or salad at lunch; include a baked potato or pasta for dinner.  

  • For weight loss, choose foods from the "low" to "moderate-calorie density" category.  Focus most of your food choices from these categories in the chart above to maximize weight loss.  

  • Choose natural, unrefined carbohydrates whenever possible such as corn, potatoes, vegetables, whole grains (oats, barley, brown rice), whole fruit rather than processed carbohydrates such as breads, chips, cold cereal, crackers and juice.​

  • If choosing calorie dense foods, make them healthy and low in fat and serve them along with the more filling low calorie dense foods....i.e., salad along with bread, soup with crackers, baked chips with salsa, fruit with a nonfat whole grain muffin. This will help fill you up and prevent you from overeating.

  • Reduce fats and oils in your food*. Calorie density increases when more fat is added to the diet.  Use ​low fat broth and/or wine in place of fats/oils for cooking.  Flavor with fresh herbs, nonfat butter flavor spray. For baking, use unsweetened fruit purees such as applesauce in place of oil.  See ideas in "getting started".

*Research studies have clearly showed that when dietary fat was added to food, calorie density increased along with total calorie intake, and weight gain in ad libitum eating environments (eating until you're full).  However, when carbohydrates are eaten instead of fat, calorie density, total calorie consumption along with weight are all reduced.  This supports the importance of reducing fat in our diet for long term successful weight loss.  Lissner, Am. Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1987, 886-892. Stubbs RJ, et al., Int J Obesity 1998;22:885-92.

© TheL.A DIET  copyright 2012  

It is always advisable to check with your physician before beginning any weight loss or exercise program.


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