top of page

Hunger, the “filling power” of foods, and when calories CAN matter.

Calories alone move weight. Period. There’s been more than enough evidence to prove this theory and I’d highly encourage you to look into the research if you haven’t yet. It’s quite fascinating.

…However…it’s typically not basic math that prevents people form moving where they’re currently at and towards their goals every year.

Why is that? Well, because we’re not math robots. Generally speaking, emotions, culture, and other forces drive our decisions and that makes the math hard to line up.

What’s more is a calorie isn’t just a calorie when it comes to the filling power of food.

"A Calorie is a Calorie...Kind Of..."

Let me explain- 5 calories form a snickers IS the same 5 calories from an apple. They’re both 5. We might even be able to argue that those same 5 calories would offer the same filling power despite the source you choose between the candy bar or piece of fruit.

But, what if those 5 calories become 500 and move from being a simple bite of a food to an entire meal? Is 500 calories from a plate loaded with lean proteins, vegetables, and grains different from a plate with 500 calories from a handful of french fries? Most would say yes.

This comes up often in our program. Below is an excerpt from a conversation I had with a member of Valley to Peak about food choice, filling power, and its ability to control our intake while seeing progress towards a goal.

There’s very likely to be some hunger present at this stage. There’s a handful of reasons why this happens and I laid them all out here.

We’ve seen both weight AND inches (fat loss) come down this week eating whatever you want; there was pizza…and Dr. Pepper…and ALL the things we have all been told will cause you to GAIN weight…not lose it.

What’s different is you created an accounting system (via tracking and measuring) to ensure the inclusion of those things doesn’t push you outside the framework of your budget. The net result is that this has still created a deficit allows the weight to come down.

The Theory Falls Apart

…..with that said…our food choices can have different “satiety points” assigned to them (satiety being how full a food option does or doesn’t make you feel).

You might not be surprised to know that “nutrient-dense” options have much, much higher “satiety points” than “calorie-dense” foods do.

Nutrient-dense foods would be things like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, oats, eggs, etc.- very basic foods and things most would call “healthy foods”.

Calorie-dense foods would be things like pizza, donuts, soda, cakes, cookies, chips, etc.

If the calories are equal NEITHER will contribute to greater weight loss (speed or total pounds).

BUT, the more often we choose nutrient-dense foods over calorie-dense foods, the more full we will feel (they have more satiety points, remember…) at a lower calorie intake. Those foods are also generally easier to track, which means the logs are more accurate.

The combination of those two generally means the program is easier to “stick to” THAT produces better results while being less hungry in the process.

….however…the flexibility (and beauty) of this is that you’re NOT “blowing” or “off” of anything by having pizza with the family, a burger with friends, or (insert whatever other restriction most programs throw in).

I’ve always felt like a really great balance is 80/20….80% of my daily intake is nutrient-dense and 20% of my daily intake is given to calorie-dense “fun stuff”. For your current levels, that would be 2500kcal to 500kcal respectively- still a generous allocation to the fun stuff.

Summarizing It All

The biggest pitfall to most nutrition plans is that it leaves NO room to include foods we actually enjoy. Which eventually culminates in wanting to waive the white flag and abandon the “diet” ship. Restriction isn’t the way (neither is dieting, by the way. There’s better options…).

Want to have take out with your wife? Eat it. Pizza with the kids? Awesome, have a slice. Donuts at school with your daughter? Grab two. Anything can fit, but don’t downplay the immense value of opting for most of your intake to be from foods with a high “filling power”. It can help make the journey towards achieving the goal MUCH easier.

Questions for Kyle or Valley to Peak? Send them here!


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Facebook Basic Square
bottom of page