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Protein density of foods

In this week’s Nutrition Diva podcast, I talked about the concept of protein density and why it matters.

Plant-based sources of protein like legumes or nuts often contain a lot of additional calories in the form or carbohydrates and/or fats. It can be challenging to to increase your protein intake using plant-based sources without taking in more calories than you need. This is where the concept of protein density can help. 

We can calculate the protein density of a food by dividing the protein by the calories and multiplying by 100.  Foods with a higher protein density provide more protein per calorie. For example, black beans have a protein density score of 6.6, meaning that 100 calories worth of black beans contains 6.6 grams of protein. Edamame, on the other hand, has protein density of around 10. You get 50% more protein from the same number of calories.  (Although the calories and protein will change with the serving size, the protein density will always remain the same.)

Here is a table of some common foods and their protein density. You can sort this list by any column by clicking on the column header.

FoodAmountWeight (g)Protein (g)CaloriesProtein density
Egg white1 large333.601721.2
Chicken breast3 oz8526.0014018.6
Cottage cheese, lowfat1/2 cup11314.008117.3
Steak, sirloin, broiled3 oz8525.7516016.1
Tuna, white, canned3 oz8522.5515814.3
Bok choi, cooked1 cup1702.652013.3
Hamburger, 90% lean, broiled3 oz8522.1918412.1
Tofu, firm1/2 cup12621.7618112.0
Mushrooms, grilled1 cup1213.973511.3
Pork loin, broiled3 oz8523.2220611.3
Turnip greens, cooked1 cup1444.003611.1
Salmon, baked3 oz8519.0017510.9
Asparagus, cooked1 cup1804.324010.8
Broccoli, cooked1 cup1564.384110.7
Edamame1 cup11813.2412910.3
Bean sprouts1 cup1242.52269.7
Cauliflower, raw1 cup641.89209.5
Kale, cooked1 cup671.78199.4
Egg , whole1 large506.28728.7
Yogurt, plain, low fat1 container (6 oz)1708.931078.3
Collards, cooked1 cup1905.15638.2
Mozzarella, part skim1 oz286.67838.1
Brussels sprouts, raw1 cup882.97387.8
Zucchini, cooked1 cup1802.05277.6
Provolone cheese1 oz287.19997.3
Swiss cheese1 oz287.571107.3
Snow peas1 cup982.74416.7
Black beans, cooked1 cup24014.472186.6
Cheddar, cheese1 oz286.421135.7
Yogurt, plain, whole milk1 container (6 oz)1705.901045.7
Lima beans, cooked1 cup17011.582095.5
Cheese, feta1 oz283.99745.4
Green beans, cooked1 cup1352.01385.3
Pumpkin seeds, roasted1 oz288.381615.2
Milk, whole1 cup2448.001565.1
Tomatoes, canned1 cup2401.90385.0
Vegetable juice, canned1 cup2532.35564.2
Peanuts, roasted1 oz286.841654.1
Pasta, whole wheat, cooked1 cup1177.001744.0
Pasta, cooked1 cup1247.191963.7
Almonds, roasted1 oz285.901683.5
Corn, yellow1 cup1364.111203.4
Egg noodles, cooked1 cup1607.262213.3
Sunflower seeds, roasted1 oz284.801732.8
Baked potato1 potato2997.862842.8
Butternut squash, backed1 cup2051.84822.2
Rice, brown, cooked1 cup2025.532482.2
Sweet potato, baked1 potato1142.291032.2
Rice, white, cooked1 cup1584.252052.1
Bread, whole wheat1 slice324.00814.9
Quinoa, cooked1 cup1858.002223.6
Amaranth, cooked 1 cup2469.352513.7

Your diet isn’t the problem

Most diets pay way too much attention to what you eat and not enough to why and how you are eating it.  You get detailed instructions about exactly what to eat and what not to eat. And if you follow the instructions, you will almost certainly lose weight.

But if you are overweight, the real problem is not your diet. It’s your habits that need to change.

“Interventions that focus on changing an individual’s behaviour are not usually successful at changing an individual’s habits because they do not incorporate the strategies required to break unhealthy habits and/or form new healthy habits,” researcher Gina Cleo points out 

Lose all the weight you want on whatever diet regimen you choose. If you haven’t fixed the underlying habits, you are almost certain to regain the weight.

Cleo’s latest study, published last month in the International Journal of Obesity found that overweight adults who lost weight through focusing on changing their eating and movement habits (as opposed to following a certain diet) were more likely to maintain their weight loss for up to 12 months.

“Maintaining weight loss is often the hardest part of the weight-loss journey,” she says, “yet it was successfully achieved by our participants on the habit-based programs, without the need for dieting or strenuous exercise.

This is exactly what we are seeing in the Weighless Program, a year-long coaching program for sustainable weight loss. Although we certainly talk about food and movement, there is no prescribed diet or exercise program. Instead, we focus on dismantling that dieter’s mindset and creating the habits and mindset that lead to weighing less, permanently.  (Here’s what that looks like.)

And it’s working! After 10 months in the program, 80% of our members have lost anywhere from 3 to 18% of their starting weight. Many have been successfully maintaining a lower weight for months. And no-one has spent a single day dieting.  It’s exhilarating to witness people finally break free of destructive yo-yo dieting patterns and discover what it’s like to weigh less.

Click here to see what our members are saying.

You don’t necessarily need to join a group or a program to do this.  But if you think some professional guidance and support would be useful, our next Weighless group begins on July 6th. More details here.

 

Dieters Mindset vs Weighless Mindset

I’m guessing you’ve been on your share of diets. (And isn’t that, right there, proof that diets are not the answer?)

Although they rarely deliver permanent weight loss, diets do succeed fabulously at one thing: they’re great at creating a dieter’s mindset. And that mindset tends to follow us around, even when we’re in between diets.

What’s the dieter’s mindset? It’s a tendency to see every food as either “good” or “bad.” Even worse, it’s a tendency to see OURSELVES as “good” or “bad” depending on what we’ve eaten that day.

It’s the dieter’s mindset that puts thoughts like these into your head:

“I shouldn’t have eaten that cake after lunch. But as today is obviously ruined. I might as well go out for nachos after work.”

“I’ll be extra good tomorrow.”

“It’s sugar-free, so make it a large.”

“That’s it: No more carbs (or whatever…) until I lose five pounds.”

Ironically, that dieter’s mindset doesn’t actually help you weigh less, does it? No, it locks you in to a lifetime of dieting.

One of the most important things we do in the Weighless program is to pull that dieter’s mindset out by the roots. In place of those toxic messages, we plant ones that, over time, really do help you weigh less.

 

The Weighless Mindset is is about making friends with both food and yourself–and reinforcing the habits that support the life (and body) you want to have. Just ask the hundreds of Weighless members who have stopped dieting and started weighing less! Here’s some of what they have to say.

Ready to join them? We begin on July 6th…and then not again until 2019!

All the details are here.

 

The case for super slow weight loss

One of the things that sets the Weighless approach apart from other weight loss programs is our emphasis on slow weight loss.  Instead of coaching our members to lose a couple of pounds a week, we try to hold them to a couple of pounds a month.

Crazy, right? And yet there is a method to our madness.

Most people can only lose 2-3 pounds of body fat per month. If you’re losing weight faster than that, the rest is likely to be lean muscle. Believe me, that’s NOT what you’re trying to lose. Although our approach may seem like an insanely slow way to lose weight, we’re finding that it’s actually a much quicker (and less unpleasant) path to sustainable fat loss.

Interestingly, our members frequently report that after losing weight the “Weighless way,” they look and their clothes fit as if they have lost much more than they have.

Losing weight slowly not only preserves your metabolism and muscle mass. It also gives you more time to acquire the habits and practice the skills that will help you maintain a lower weight, heading off the dreaded–and seemingly inevitable–rebound weight gain.

It all makes sense, right? But occasionally, someone in the group will ask if there is published research to support the merits of the super slow pace of weight loss we endorse. Fair enough. I’ve built a reputation for being evidence-based, and most of the people who sign up for my programs cite this as one of the reasons they trust my advice.

Show Me the Research

A few studies have compared the effects of slow vs. fast weight loss. For example:

A 2016 study involving almost 60 subjects found that those who lost weight more slowly lost less muscle mass, which was associated with less weight regain. A similar (but longer) study dating back to 1994 compared the effects of “fast” vs. “slow” weight loss and found that the fast losers lost more weight initially but were much more likely to regain it.

The problem is that virtually all of the studies that compare fast and slow weight loss define “slow” as 1-2 pounds a week, which is still too fast by our standards.

There’s this 2008 study which found that small, cumulative changes in diet and activity (similar to the approach we use in Weighless) produced slow but sustainable weight loss–and was ultimately far more effective than giving people standard weight loss advice.

At the other end of the spectrum, the famous (and heartbreaking) “Biggest Loser” study demonstrates just how much damage fast weight can do to your metabolism. After six years, virtually all of the contestants had regained every pound (and more)–despite continuing to eat fewer calories. 

Our approach is certainly informed by research–but it also draws heavily on our experience and common sense. And although we are not (yet) conducting a controlled trial, the results we are seeing and the feedback we are getting from our members are enormously validating.  I think we’re onto something here…and maybe the researchers will take notice.  In the meantime, we have a new group beginning in just a few weeks.  You can learn more here.

What it’s like to weigh less

Sure, I can tell you what the Weighless Program is all about. But perhaps you’d rather hear from those who are actually in the program? Here are just a few of the emails and posts that have come in from our members over the last few weeks:

“This past week, I saw people I haven’t seen in a while and a few noticed that I’ve lost weight.  On the numerous times when I’ve done Weight Watchers, I would lose the first 10 pounds in the first two or three weeks, and no one would EVER notice. I guess there’s a big difference between losing 10 pounds of fat in a healthy way and losing 10 pounds of god-knows-what in an unhealthy way. I haven’t spent the last three months weighing and measuring and depriving and monitoring like crazy. I’ve just spent the last three months living my normal life, with a few tweaks here and there.”

“Instead of making food choices in order to lose weight (Snackwells, anyone?), I’m now making decisions that improve my health. It’s a pro-health and pro-me approach to food and life. And my resulting weight loss feels like a welcome side effect. It doesn’t feel like deprivation, so it doesn’t feel so exhausting and scary. This non-diet Weighless approach has been free from the backlash, setbacks, binge eating and guilt that has plagued me with diets.

“One of my favorite things about this program is that I do not dread special events.  I’m not waiting until all the planets align and there are no special events on the horizon to start a diet. I have navigated weddings, vacations and holidays without obsessing over food choices. I’ve made good choices and poor choices, but overall I feel much more in control of my outcomes.  No one indulgence is going to derail me.”

“I’m so very thankful for the Weighless program! I decided to try on a dress that I’ve always considered my “goal” dress and lo and behold it fit!!! My sweet husband said, “Wow, it’s so great to see you lose weight and get fit without dieting!” Life has been been chaotic the last few months, but I discovered the Weighless principles work no matter what is happening, especially as they become a way of life. I‘ve learned so much from Monica, Brock and all of the wonderful members of this group!”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating this amazing program. There are so many words to describe it – transformative, liberating, amazing, brilliant….I could go on. You have truly changed my life for the better. You have also helped me to model a more positive message for my two young daughters and for that – I am eternally grateful.”

Our next group is launching in just a few weeks–and then it will be another year before we start again. You can learn more here.

Fiber Density

This week’s Nutrition Diva podcast episode talks about the concept of fiber density and why it matters. Many high-fiber foods are also high in calories. If you’re looking to increase fiber but keep calories under control, you want foods with a high fiber density.

We can calculate the fiber density of a food by dividing the fiber by the calories and multiplying by 100. For example, the fiber density of raspberries is 12.5, means that 100 calories of raspberries contains 12.5 grams of fiber.  (Although the calories and fiber will change with the serving size, the fiber density will always remain the same.)

Here’s a table showing how various foods rank in terms of their fiber density. You can sort the table by any value by clicking on the column header.

For example, sort by Fiber to see which foods provide the most fiber per serving. Sort by Fiber Density to see which foods provide the most fiber for the least calories.

FoodAmountFiber (g)CaloriesFiber density
Wheat bran1/4 cup6.63220.63
Endive, raw1 cup1.6820
Turnip greens, cooked 1 cup52917.24
Chicory greens, raw1 cup1.2717.14
Cauliflower, cooked1 cup4.93115.81
Mustard greens, cooked1 cup4.22815
Kale, raw1 cup0.9712.86
Raspberries, raw1 cup86412.5
Romaine lettuce1 cup1812.5
Collards, cooked 1 cup7.66312.06
Chinese broccoli, cooked1 cup2.21911.58
Broccoli, cooked1 cup4.74111.46
Celery1 cup1.61411.43
Artichokes, cooked1 choke6.86111.15
Passionfruit1 cup24.522910.7
Swiss chard, cooked1 cup3.73510.57
Green beans, cooked1 cup43810.53
Spinach, cooked1 cup4.34110.49
Radishes1 cup1.91910
Spinach, raw1 cup0.7710
Zucchini, cooked1 cup2.9319.35
Asparagus, cooked 1 cup3.6409
Green peppers, raw1 cup2.5308.33
Cabbage, cooked1 cup2.8348.24
Winter squash, cooked1 cup6.6828.05
Black beans1 cup16.62187.61
Alfalfa sprouts1 cup0.687.5
White beans1 cup18.62547.32
Chia seeds1 Tbsp5707.14
Lentils, cooked1 cup15.62306.78
Strawberries, raw1 cup3496.12
Bulgur, cooked1 cup8.21515.43
Bran flakes1 cup7.21335.41
Oranges1 cup4.4855.18
Flaxseed1 Tbsp2.8555.09
Chickpeas1 cup10.62115.02
Kiwi1 cup5.41104.91
Avocado1 cup12.92764.67
Mushrooms1 cup0.7154.67
Blueberries1 cup3.6844.29
Pumpkin seeds1 cup3714.23
Sweet potatoes, baked1 cup6.61803.67
Grapefruit1 cup2.5743.38
Banana1 cup5.82002.9
Pasta, whole grain, cooked1 cup5.31842.88
Hummus1/4 cup3.61442.5
Quinoa, cooked1 cup5.22222.34
Almonds1/4 cup4.52072.17
Sunflower seeds1/4 cup31751.71
Brown rice, cooked1 cup3.52181.61
Tofu1/2 cup2.91811.6
Walnuts1/4 cup21901.05

Eating gluten free will cost you

More and more consumers are convinced that avoiding gluten will improve their health. And if avoiding gluten meant cutting out breads, pasta, crackers, baked goods and other traditionally wheat-based foods, there might be health and nutritional benefits.

Replacing sandwiches with salads, pasta with zoodles, pizza crust with cauliflower crusts, baked goods with fruit–all solid upgrades in terms of nutrients (not to mention calories).

But as the selection of gluten-free breads, pastas, crackers, and baked goods grows, giving up gluten may not necessarily improve your nutrition. In fact, a recent survey found that gluten-free foods tend to be significantly LESS nutritious than the foods they are designed to replace.

According to researchers who evaluated over 1000 commercially available foods, GF breads tended to be higher in both fat and sugar.  GF items were also higher in salt, and lower in both fiber and protein than their wheat-based counterparts. They also cost, on average, two and half times as much.

There is a healthier (and cheaper) way to go gluten-free. Instead of loading up your cart with highly-processed gluten-free products made with various alternative starches, seek out whole foods and minimally processed foods that are naturally gluten-free.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, are a better way to fill the gaps where wheat used to be.