Sticking with the theme of common problems of my clients & friends over the past few weeks, today we discuss nutrition.
More specifically, easy ways to eat less through the day and help with calorie deficit goals or easy ways to eat more and support muscle/ weight gain.
For simplicity, we are going to ignore exercise, the thermic effect of eating and NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis), and only talk about how the types of food can help with the above problems. Also, we will assume that you are appropriately hydrated, as this can have an effect on what we are about to discuss.
I think (from reading around and personal exploration) that when trying to eat more or trying to eat less the relationship between two factors can help massively.
1) The fullness factor of foods
2) The calorie density of foods
The fullness factor, or how satiating food is is a complicated process (the full understanding is outside of my scope of practice), however, it involves the physical size, the total weight of, and how leptin (among other hormones) is secreted. A full list of foods ranked from 0 (not very filling per calorie) to 5 (filling per calorie) can be found here.
So typically heavy/ dense foods or large volumes of food can help you to feel full.
The calorie density of foods relates to how many calories are in each gram of food. You can find a whole list of foods and their calories per 100g here (Thankyou Redit).
When combined these resources can be very helpful in the following ways.
1) When trying to loose body fat, being in a calorie deficit (eating less than your body needs) is essential. At some point in the process, you will feel hungry and will want to eat (that's kind of the point you NEED to get to). So finding foods with a high fullness factor (>4.0) and a low-calorie density will be invaluable to get you through these times. Examples include watermelon, potatoes (surprising to most, but they are extremely satiating and surprisingly low in calories compared to other "carbohydrate" sources) or sugar-free jelly (works for me).
2) When trying to gain muscle, being in a calorie surplus is essential (eating more than your body needs). However, being full all the time can be draining so foods with a low satiating factor and high-calorie density are a winning combination. Some examples are nuts, olive oil, or cheese.
Use these tools at your disposal, personally I have found that they can be useful, however, inter-individual variability has been shown in a number of studies measuring the glycemic response of foods (1) (2).
Use with a pinch of salt