Do my food choices affect my weight?

Michaela Ballmann
Nutrition & Dietetics
Yes, your food choices, more than any other factor, affect your weight. Though a combination of factors including genes, activity level, medications, and age can all play a part in how much you weight, your diet appears to be the most significant player. This is because your weight maintenance or change is determined mostly by a simple formula: Calories In=Calories Out. Your food choices change the “Calories In” side of the equation. Your lifestyle, resting metabolic rate/metabolism, and exercise level all fall under “Calories Out”. Even if all your methods of Calorie expenditure stay the same, you can lose, gain, or maintain your weight by the amount of Calories you eat. If you choose more nutrient-dense foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains; also high in fiber), you will decrease your Calorie intake and lose weight. If you choose more Calorically-dense foods (usually high in total and saturated fat and low in fiber) you will tip the scale in favor of weight gain. If you continue to eat the same types and amounts of food and move about the same amount every day, you will maintain your weight.
Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics
Food choices have a direct effect on your weight and health status. Eating more than the amount of kcalories required in a day, poses the risk of being overweight/obese and the possibility of acquiring negative health conditions associated with it.

Eating what you need promotes weight management and optimal health. Three basic dietary guidelines are listed below:
  1. Consuming a sufficient amount of dietary fiber everyday (25 grams for females; 38 grams for males). Choices from the fruit, grain and vegetable food groups can assist you in reaching this goal.
  2. Consuming adequate water every day to quench your thirst and to decrease overeating. Many times we think we're hungry, when we're actually thirsty. General guidelines suggest consuming eight cups or 64 ounces of water a day for healthy individuals. To individualize this, multiply 30 cc's by your weight in kilograms (divide your weight by 2.2 to obtain your amount). This answer will give you how many cc's you need. Divide those cc's by 240. This answer will give you how many eight ounce glasses of water you need each day.
  3. Eating according to serving size not portion size. Every food has a serving size. The serving size tells you how many kcalories and what nutrients are in the food. A portion size is what you want to eat. It may be more or less than the serving size, but usually you have no way of knowing the kcalorie or nutrient amounts. If you are looking to lose or maintain weight, knowing the serving size of the foods you eat will assist you in remaining within your allotted kcalories for the day (your daily caloric needs).
Meagan Mohammadione
Nutrition & Dietetics

Not only do our food choices matter, but when we eat and how much we eat.   

Everyone knows that we should snack on an apple instead of a potato chips, but we don't think about the timing of our meals and snacks. 

Consider these scenerios:
  • Joe has never been a breakfast person. He gets up early in the morning, drinks a cup of coffee when he gets to work and often gets so busy he forgets all about eating lunch. By the time Joe gets home from work, he is so hungry, he eats everything in sight! Now Joe is way too full and can't do anything except lay on the couch and watch TV. 
  • Mary is a student and knows she needs to eat breakfast to get her day started off right.  When she goes to class, she makes sure she brings along some snacks to eat when she gets hungry.  She takes time to eat lunch and at the end of the day she eats a light dinner. 
Despite their very different eating patterns, Joe and Mary actually eat the same amount of calories. You would think that they would both have weight issues, right? 

Wrong! Joe is overweight and Mary is a normal weight. This is why: Mary spread her calories out throughout the day so her body was able to properly convert the calories to energy to get her through her day. Joe gave his body all the calories at once, but his body wasn't able to process all that energy in such a short amount of time and the energy that was leftover was turned into fat.

Moral of the story: listen to your body and feed it when it is asking for food. It knows just what to do. 
Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics
Some snacks or desserts may look like they don't contain a lot of calories, but looks are deceiving. High sugar or high fat processed foods tend to have alarming amounts of calories. If you are watching your weight, it is easy to gain weight with only a few extra snacks a day. Fruits are low in calories, yet contain a lot of important nutrients. Low calorie snacks like fruits and popcorn will fill you up and not out.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Absolutely, food choices involve timing of eating, portions, sugar and fat content, nutrient dense or lack of nutrients all of which may affect weight. Choose nutrient dense foods such as whole grains, whole fruits, unlimited vegetables, healthy fats such as a few teaspoons of olive oil with beans or those naturally occuring in high protein foods such as 3 ounces of lean meat, or 1 to 3 eggs per day.

Kait Fortunato
Nutrition & Dietetics

Weight maintenance involves planning ahead so you have healthy foods to cook for dinner and pack for lunch. It is also important to enjoy your food and never restrict the foods you love. Healthy living involves finding a balance and choosing real food. It is also important to pay attention to your hunger cues and listen to your body. Most people find it helpful to keep a food log so you can pay attention to your food intake.

Janice Baker
Nutrition & Dietetics

Food choices will always affect your weight in either direction. Food is our source of energy and nourishment. Over time, when we are over or undernourished, not only will our weight be affected, but our overall health and well-being will be adversely affected as well. There is no such thing as the "perfect" diet, but a healthful dietary pattern balanced with rest and exercise can make a great difference in many aspects of our lives.

Louise Goldberg
Nutrition & Dietetics

Yes. Your food choices impact how full you feel. If you frequently choose foods that are high in sugars and refined flours, your body processes them so rapidly you tend to feel hungry soon after. This in turn can lead to overeating and excessive calorie intake causing you to gain weight. However, if you choose foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, you'll feel full and satisfied with a smaller portion size, therefore consuming moderate calories and maintaining (or losing) weight as a result.


Molly Morgan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Yes, yes, yes! The foods you choose will directly affect your weight and even more importantly, the portion size of the foods that you choose will impact your weight. Too much of even 'good' food can pack on the pounds.
Cassie Vanderwall
Nutrition & Dietetics

Do bears live in the woods? Yes! Food choices definitely affect a person's weight. In the simple equation of weight management, energy in + energy out equals a person's weight. So, if a person eats less (energy in) and moves more (energy out) they will lose weight.

Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
Food choices can definitely affect weight. There are specific foods that are better for the body than others and when a diet is high in those foods, the body maintains a healthy weight. When consumption of less healthy foods increases, the body could potentially increase in weight. Another aspect of the effect of food choices on body weight would be when weight loss is desired. If weight loss is the goal, then food choices can most certainly play a part. 
Alexandra Lautenschlaeger
Nutrition & Dietetics
People often underestimate how much they are eating and also the calories they are eating from certain foods. Many people eat high caloric foods, but not nutrient dense. Nutrient dense are packed with the right "energy providers", fiber, and extra micronutrients. Think about this. Eating a doughnut, which is light and fluffy, is like eating eight apples in one sitting. The apple has bigger bang for its buck. So yes food choices matter! The more "whole" the better for you! The more "fluff", not so much!
Nadine Pazder
Nutrition & Dietetics
While there is always room for the occasional splurge, ultimately your food choices do affect your weight.

It can be a struggle to stay within a calorie budget when fried foods are a staple of your eating style. So choose opportunities to cut calories in places that you won't miss.

For example, if you drink 2 cups of whole milk every day and make the switch to fat-free you will lose 12 pounds in a year. And there are many other examples.

Need help? Find a registered dietitian in your local are by going to and select "Find a dietitian".
Jim White
Nutrition & Dietetics

Yes, of course choosing the appropriate types of foods will help with weight loss. Staying away from or limiting fast foods, processed foods, and high fat foods will definitely help you lose weight and maintain your weight. Preparing fresh foods at home and packing your lunch is a great way to watch what you eat. Consuming lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, fruits & vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy, legumes, nuts, and drinking plenty of water are all good food choices. Organic foods are great because they typically do not contain trans fats and chemicals enabling your body to be more efficient in processing and absorbing nutrients.

Your food choices have a significant effect on your weight and on your health. A healthy diet means consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol. Foods to focus on include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nonfat or low-fat milk and other dairy, and lean, low-fat proteins, including lean meats, poultry, fish and dried beans.

Certain foods keep you satisfied longer than other foods and are loaded with nutrients that have a positive impact on your health. Proteins like lean meats are a good example, as are whole grains like brown rice as well as whole fruits and vegetables. 

With Weight Watchers you'll learn how to eat a balanced diet that includes your favorite foods.

Weight Watchers offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss that can help you reach your goals.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Absolutely. It is not only the type of calories but how many calories you eat each day that affect weight and health. Food has the power to keep you at your optimal weight or make you overweight or obese. Choose lean proteins, healthy oils, plenty of fresh produce, and avoid refined, sweetened foods.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.