High-volume, low-cal foods to keep the weight off.

High-volume, low-cal foods to keep the weight off.

Sometimes bigger really is better. For years, weight-loss experts have recommended eating high-volume, low-calorie foods like soup, salad, fruits and vegetables to help people slim down. Now, a February 2011 Journal of Nutrition study reveals that these same foods-often called "low-energy-density foods" by experts because they deliver a lot of food for only a few calories-may be the key to keeping lost weight from creeping back on.

In the study, British researchers fed mice (which had previously been on a weight-loss regimen) one of two diets. One group received their usual chow and the other ate chow supplemented with fiber, which added bulk without adding calories. In each case, the mice were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. At the end of the study, even though they all feasted on more food overall, the mice that ate the fiber-rich food lost nearly 4 percent of their body weight-and those that ate their usual grub regained what they had previously shed.

"With a lower-energy-density diet you can eat a greater mass of food for the same number of calories," says lead researcher Kerry M. Cameron, Ph.D., of the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen. And eating a greater volume of food will help you feel more satisfied. Consider this: don't you feel fuller after eating 2 cups of Cheerios than after eating just a few small squares of chocolate-both around 200 calories?

Recharge your weight loss by focusing on eating more low-energy-density foods-such as produce, beans and whole grains.

May/June 2011