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Tiny Tummy Tips, Issue #005-- Calorie Density vs Nutrient Density: 2 MUST KNOW terms
April 27, 2022

Calorie Density vs Nutrient Density

Tiny Tummy Tips, Issue #005 -- Calorie Density And Nutrient Density: 2 Must Know Terms

In This Issue

1) Definition of Calorie Density vs Nutrient Density
2) Nuts After Bariatric Surgery
3) 5 Easy Grab n Go Proteins with Low Calorie Density, High Nutrient Density

Calorie Density and Nutrient Density

Simply put, “calorie density” is how many calories per bite a food has. Whereas “nutrient density” is how much” good-for-you-nutrition” there is per bite.

Food is much MORE than numbers (calories), so this is an important distinction.

Any food fits into one of the following 4 categories:

• High in calories, low in nutrients (soda, sweets, processed packaged snack foods, French fries, etc.)
• High in calories, high in nutrients (nuts, seeds, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, etc.)
• Low in calories, low in nutrients (sugar free candy, diet soda, low calorie ice cream, etc.)
• Low in calories, high in nutrients (broccoli, celery, cucumber, etc.)

After bariatric surgery, limiting high calorie (calorie dense) foods… even the nutrient rich ones… is important.

(Notice I said limit, NOT avoid!) TOO many calories, even nutrient rich calories, can slow weight loss or cause weight regain. Just because a food is “good for you” doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited amounts.

Example: Nuts and Seeds

Nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, etc.) and seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc) have LOTS of calories per bite because they’re high in fat. Yes, it’s “good fat,” but fat is a concentrated source of calories. That’s why a mere ¼ cup nuts or seeds racks up 160-210 calories.

And yes, nuts and seeds have protein, but it’s not worth spending so many calories when you can get protein in “cheaper” (lower calorie ways) from other foods.

Justifying nuts due to their (small) protein content and easy grab and go nature is often a fast path to slowed weight loss or weight regain.

In the last newsletter I talked about cheese being one of two foods that are the most common weight loss saboteurs (in my professional opinion). And I promised to tell you in THIS newsletter what the other food is. Can you now guess that it’s nuts/seeds?!

Nuts After Bariatric Surgery

It’s NOT ok to justify eating AS MANY nuts as you want to help meet your protein goal. While nuts/seeds are nutrient dense, they’re also calorie dense.

Rather than thinking of nuts/seeds as “the main attraction” of a meal or snack, think of them as an “accessory” or condiment instead. Like the way a necklace is an accessory to an outfit! Nuts/seeds should be like the “bling” added to your meal, like this:

• Plain nonfat Greek yogurt + berries; sprinkle 1 Tablespoon slivered almonds on top
• Salad: Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon pistachios before serving
• Tuna salad: toss in a 1 Tablespoon of chopped walnuts

And for protein consider these easy grab n go options instead of nuts/seeds:

5 Easy Grab N Go Proteins: Low Calorie Density, High Nutrient Density

• 1-2oz deli turkey: 7-14 grams protein, 40-80 calories
• ½ cup lowfat cottage cheese: 14 grams protein, 90 calories
• 1 single serving container plain nonfat Greek yogurt: 12-18 grams protein, 90-120 calories
• On the go pouches of tuna, salmon, or chicken: 11-17 grams protein, 70-90 calories
• Ready to drink protein drink with at least 20 grams of protein, Less than 200 calories, less than 8 grams sugar

Compare these to ¼ cup nuts/seeds: 5-7 grams protein, 160-210 calories.

Calories still matter, even after weight loss surgery. It’s possible to over consume calories with a small stomach if you’re not careful of your choices. So now you know. Knowledge is power!

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In Health,


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