Nutrient Dense Foods are Key to Weight Loss!
I am going to tell you something that will permanently change your relationship with food—you do not need to starve yourself with super low-calorie diets in order to lose fat and keep it off. In fact, doing this is very likely to backfire on you and mess up with your metabolism. By eating nutrient dense foods in the right proportions and portions, you can start to enjoy “dieting.”
By the time you read the last word of this post, you will understand what “nutrient dense” means and what nutrient dense foods you should be eating (including carbs!). This is the information you need to be free you from the often overwhelming and unsatisfying side-effects of traditional dieting. Approaching weight loss with an eating plan that will not leave you hungry, tired, and frustrated gives a huge boost to your chances of success!
What Does Nutrient Dense Mean?
“Nutrient dense” refers to the amount of health essential macro and micronutrients a food contains. Macronutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, provide the energy (calories) our body needs to function properly both mentally and physically active. Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that we require to help boost our metabolism and lose body fat.
Here’s a simple breakdown of protein, carbs, and fats:
- Protein—needed for muscle recovery.
- Carbohydrates—a primary source of energy.
- Healthiest options—fruits, vegetables, whole grains
- Fats—necessary for optimal body functioning.
Nutrient dense foods are real and unprocessed (AKA whole food nutrition) as opposed to chemically altered or synthetic foods. They are often called “superfoods” to indicate their added power.
The Benefits of Eating Nutrient Dense Foods
Research is indicating that nutrient dense foods influence the digestion and metabolization of the core nutrients, which results in greater weight loss. This is because they have a different ratio of nutrients to calories than other foods—they are high in nutrients and proportionally low in calories so they have a lower calorie “price tag.” On the other hand, processed foods are loaded with “empty calories” of little nutritional benefit. This is why we can eat more nutrient dense foods than less nutritious and/or processed foods.
Here are the key functions of nutrient dense foods:
- Stimulate the metabolism to effectively burn fat
- Improve workout endurance and energy levels
- Regulate blood sugar
- Reduce curb cravings and increase satiety
- Boost in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acid
- Help reduce chronic diseases and obesity
Nutrient Dense Foods
There are no shortage of opinions about the best healthy and nutrient dense foods.
I did some poking around to some reputable websites—and added my nutrition experience into the mix—to come up with this shortlist:
- Salmon is packed with protein, healthy fat in the form of Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D. Make sure you choose the safest kind!
- Quinoa is gluten free grain AND has been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, colon cancer and obesity.
- Black Beans are small, yet powerful, promoting bone health, decrease blood pressure, help manage diabetes, prevent heart disease and cancer, aid digestion and assist with weight loss by filling you up at a low calorie level.
- Eggs are possibly our top go to food because they’re cheap, easy to cook, and loaded with health benefits, including helping the muscles and eyes, feeding the brain, boosting energy and the immune system, and lowering the risk of heart disease. They are an excellent source of protein that helps you feel full to prevent snacking.
- Sweet potatoes are excellent for maintaining healthy insulin levels, lowering blood pressure, protecting against colon and prostrate cancer, promoting a healthy digestive tract, boosting immunity and reducing inflammation.
- Avocados are loaded with healthy fats that have been proven to lower cholesterol. They also contain more than half the fiber and almost half of the folate you need daily, both of which help fight heart disease.
- Nut Butters are packed with heart-healthy fats and protein, make sure you get nut butters with only nuts and salt and NO added sugars.
- Spinach is one of the best greens for folate and also has lots of Vitamin A, iron, calcium, zinc, potassium, and selenium. It has antioxidants and supports thyroid function.
- Lean chicken or turkey breast
- Lean beef
- …and, OF COURSE, Shakeology!
The creators of Shakeology researched long and hard and searched the world for the healthiest nutrient dense ingredients to create an incredible nutritional supplement that can serve as a powerful tool for those looking to get healthy and/or lose weight!
Did you know that Autumn listed all of the foods on the 21 Day Fix food list in order of nutritional density? And, you can find even more nutrient dense foods by clicking on the “Nutrition” tab here—Quick Wellness Tips by Coach Monica
Please do NOT get stuck in the mindset that nutrient dense foods are NOT all expensive (this if often just an excuse in disguise!). Here is a post that will help you stick to your food budget while eating healthy—How to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Eating Nutrient Dense Foods
The bad news is that you do need to cook more if you’re eating nutrient dense foods instead of all the processed readymade junk—the GREAT news is that this is NOT difficult.
My formula for meal prep success is EASY and I teach it here—Buffet Style Food Prep School.
Here are some SIMPLE and FAST meals that use nutrient dense foods and are easily prepped using this method:
- 1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice or water
- 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- A pinch of sea salt
Healthy toppings (less is more):
- A drizzle of maple syrup
- Cacao nibs
- Dates, berries, or bananas
- Canned pureed pumpkin
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Hemp, flax, or chia seeds
- Nut/seed butter
I’m Here to Help!
Here’s the typical pattern I see all the time:
- Someone’s diet is seriously lacking in nutrients and they too much food in the incorrect proportions
- They do not exercise enough (it’s IMPORTANT to combine exercise AND good nutrition!)
- They gain weight
- They try the quick fix fad diets that leave them starving and frustrated
- They go back to their old habits
THE GOAL IS A LIFESTYLE CHANGE—NOT A DIET. Eating nutrient dense foods every day in the right ratios allows us to skip the starvation diets, eat more, and still lose fat. Add exercise into the mix and you’ll get leaner and stronger!
The other recommendation I make is to surround yourself with people who are on the same healthy path because your tribe impacts your vibe. Our FREE coaching program (YES, FREE) includes membership in all of our private accountability Facebook groups—mine (Coach Monica) is centered around Autumn Calabrese’s 21 Day Fix eating plan and Coach Dave’s is focused on Shaun T’s awesome programs. Click below to learn more: