3 Ways to adjust calorie dense meals

by Awishkar Gnyawali on Tuesday 03 May 2022

5 min read

Firstly, what is calorie density and how does it impact us?

Calorie density refers to the number of calories that is in a certain amount of food. Consuming high calorie dense meals can have quite an influence on weight gain. On the other hand, there is a significant correlation between consuming low calorie dense foods and weight loss. Let’s find out how we can implement this into our lifestyle.

What is a calorie dense meal?

Calorie density refers to food that is packed with calories in relation to its volume. For example, a bowl of fruit can be less than 100cal per 100g while a bowl of hot chips can be upwards of 250cal for the same 100g.

Does this mean that we are not allowed to have any of our favourite foods? Not necessarily!  

Enjoy the foods you love

There is nothing worse than watching everyone enjoy their favourite meals while you have to eat another bland-tasteless dish. In order to effectively adjust your calorie dense meals, we must first separate between foods we genuinely enjoy and foods we can go without. Once we identify our favourites, it makes it easier to say no to foods that we tend to have for the sake of it. The next part of the process is figuring out how we can enjoy the foods we love without guilt and fear.

Changing portion size 

Delicious foods can be delicate, as they are so tasty, we want to eat all of it! It is often the case that delicious foods are the most calorie dense. We can counter this through effective portion management and food enjoyment. Think of your plate as a percentage, we want to build 75% of your plate on good foundations. These will be your fruits, vegetables and proteins, which are all low in calorie density. This decreases the calorie density of our meal and allows for us to allocate the remaining 25% to our enjoyment foods! Use this 25% to eat the foods you really love.

Enjoyment is the key, so ensure to eat slowly and enjoy the delicious flavours of each bite. 

Swapping 1 ingredient

Ever wondered how some people eat a whole home-made pizza and stay fit? Chances are, they are aware of ingredients that are calorie dense and prepared accordingly. For example, having a regular latte with full cream milk is 206 calories while the same coffee with skim milk is 71 calories.

Finding ingredients that are less calorie dense while having the same taste can make a deficit of over hundreds of calories. Some other examples of these include cauliflower rice instead of regular rice, zucchini pasta instead of regular pasta, spray oil instead of pouring the oil or even using non-fat plain yoghurt instead of sour cream.  

Changing cooking method 

Adjusting how we cook can offer us another alternative to reduce the calorie density of our meals while cutting down on unnecessary calories. The most common ingredients used to cook such as butter or oils are often highly calorie dense and can add that extra calories that we can go without. Here are some ways to adjust how we cook while maintaining that delicious taste.

  • Air fryer: Using tools such as the air fryer can remove the use of oils and great a huge calorie deficit without losing its taste. Bonus, it is easier to clean than an oven! 
  • Steaming: Steaming (cooking foods in hot vapour) can keep your food delicious and tasty without requiring the excess ingredients. Steaming your veggies or tender meats/fish will taste just as good as cooking it in a pan, while significantly decreasing the calorie density. 
  • Grilling/Roasting: Or even cooking over a bed of charcoal, this method is the most commonly used in homes through a barbecue. Cooking meats or vegetables using this method tastes great without the use of any oil and maintains great taste without needing to deep fry ingredients. Grilled meat can also sometimes allow the fats to drip away from the food, decreasing the calorie density 

Healthy eating starts at your next shop, so try to fill your basket with more fruits and vegetables. That way, you’ll increase your chances of making better (and easier) low calorie dense choices for every meal.

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