Energy Density & Weight Loss

Q: What is energy density?
A: Energy Density is a relatively new concept that is an important factor in body weight.

Q: Can you please explain?
A: Energy Density is defined as the amount of energy (calories) per unit weight of a food or beverage. For example, water provides a significant amount of weight without adding calories. Fiber too. Foods high in water or fiber are generally lower in energy density. Whereas foods high in fat are high in Energy Density. This is because dietary fat provides the greatest amount of energy per gram (calories per unit weight).

Q: What are some high Energy Density foods?
A: The CDC offers some examples such as bacon, which has many calories in a small package. A bagel is an example of a medium energy density food. Low Energy Density foods are typified as fruits and vegetables. The lower the Energy Density the food, the better.

Q: Interesting! Are there any exceptions?
A: Yes, there are two exceptions. Nuts have so much fat, they appear less healthy then they are. Soda, on the other hand, appears less harmful than it actually is. Otherwise, the ‘Science’ supports a relationship between Energy Density and Body Weight. Consuming diets lower in Energy Density may be an effective strategy for managing body weight.

Q: Why is that?
A: This is because people tend to eat a consistent weight of food. So, when there are fewer calories per pound, caloric intake is reduced.

Q: I see, so then a small drop in Energy Density can lead to a small drop in weight?
A: Yes, that’s right.

Q: The greater the decrease in energy density, the greater the weight loss?
A: Yes, correct. Energy density can be reduced in a variety of ways as you can see. Such as the addition of fruits and vegetables, by lowering fat content or by lowering sugar content.

Q: So you feel full on fewer calories when you eat a diet full of Low Density foods?
A: Yes. Many organizations apply this framework to their highly successful diet plans including the Mayo Clinic, the National Institute of Health and the CDC to name a few.

Q: Wow! This concept of Energy Density seems to explain very well how one can eat more and weigh less.
A: Yes indeed! Now ideally one must look at three areas of lifestyle that may require change such as food, exercise and sleep in order to make weight loss sustainable.

Q: How does sleep impact weight loss?
A: Sleep is essential for weight loss. Most adults require 8 hours of sleep. The less sleep you get, the higher your weight tends to be. Sleep impacts hunger and satiety hormones. Therefore, getting enough sleep is a lifestyle factor that is essential to successful weight loss efforts.

Q: Thank you Liz! I never knew about Energy Density before and how it will help me in my weight loss goals. I’ll be nice and slim for the summer after all. Anyone who wants to provide feedback, or has specific medical requests, may they send you an email?
A: Yes! You can email me at

About Dr. Liz Perry
Dr. Liz is a primary care provider with a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and a Master’s degree in Business Management from Harvard University. For over 22 years, Dr. Liz has worked as an international healthcare consultant, has traveled the world, and has written hundreds of published articles as a health journalist.

Liz Perry