Should we just eat lower energy food?

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Offline thedoc

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Should we just eat lower energy food?
« on: 01/04/2012 09:43:02 »
Jonathan Wilmarth asked the Naked Scientists:
I just started listening to your show while at work, its great and keeps my mind active. Keep up the great work!
My Question:
I am very frustrated with diet food being all "low calorie" calorie is a unit of energy, so in a since you're eating food that just doesn't have as much potential energy. Wouldn't it be just easier and cheaper to eat less high energy food? Also your body measures how full it is off of your sugar level, and I would think that most of the energy in foods are in the long sugar chains…. So "low calorie" food may actually be worse if you're trying to lose weight.
Also on a side note that high calorie foods taste better =)
Jonathan Wilmarth
Electrical Engineer
Knoxville TN

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 01/04/2012 09:43:02 by _system »


Offline CliffordK

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Re: Should we just eat lower energy food?
« Reply #1 on: 01/04/2012 20:59:52 »
Water is an excellent diet food.  No calories.  Cheap (as long as you don't buy gourmet water), and you can drink as much of it as you want (within reason).

There are a few types of "low calorie" foods.  Many vegetables have high bulk, low calories, as well as low carbs, and low fats. 
Certain foods have low calorie availability to the body, such as fiber, cellulose, and sugar alcohols.  Fibers and the sugar alcohols can get metabolised by gut bacteria and can cause cause gas and GI discomfort.

You are right, equivalent amounts of long-chain carbohydrates, and short-chain sugars give the body the same energy, with just different absorption rates.   So, while starch may be good for diabetics, it wouldn't be considered a "diet food".  Personally I believe a little sugar is ok in moderation, and it can be filling.

Many of the Diet TV dinners appear to be good balanced meals, lots of veggies, but also meat and other stuff.  I haven't closely looked at the ingredients, but I presume you could easily cook your own similar meals.  One of the things the diet meals do is give you a fixed small portion, with known calories, and presumably one avoids piling on stuff like butter.  So, if you apply a rule of moderation, you could prepare and eat similar meals.

Diet sodas have been controversial.  One of the problems with artificial sweeteners is that they stimulate hunger, but do not satiate, and thus can potentially cause more eating, rather than less eating.

One other food that I believe deserves special mention would be "seedy foods".  For example, a large portion of the bulk in blackberries is seeds which are poorly absorbed by the body (the mechanism for blackberries to propagate).  And, thus I find that during the summer and fall, I can eat essentially eat as many blackberries as I want, and loose weight.  Of course, that also involves getting outside and picking them.