Which foods cause me to gain the most weight?

Hiral Modi
Nutrition & Dietetics

It’s not type of food that causes weight gain. Its total calories that you eat matters. It’s true eating fatty foods leads to weight gain easily because 1 gram of fat = 9 kcals as compare to carbs and proteins which is 1 gram = 4 kcals. So for healthy eating routine limit fat rich foods to 30-35% of your calories. Try to incorporate more proteins based foods which not only help to build muscles but also gives you feeling of satiety. It prevents snacking in between meals. Also, if you eat more than you burn eventually it will results in weight gain. So it is important to remain active, exercise regularly to balance your intake with the expenditure.

There is a nutritional strategy that I talk about with all of my clients and that is nutrient density versus calorie density.  Foods are either one or the other and obviously calorie dense foods have lead to large in part our weight problem in our country.

Foods now a days have changed quite a bit and there is obviously more processed foods but food is more readily available and is fairly cheap.  However, the cheaper the food the more calorie dense it usually is.  Also the more processed a food is the more calorie dense it generally is.  So our goal is to choose nutrient dense foods over calorie dense foods.

So what does each mean?

Nutrient dense foods:  Foods that contain higher volumes (size) without a high number of calories but yet rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, ect..  Perfect examples are whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, lean proteins

Calorie dense foods:  Foods that have less volume and higher in calories per serving with less vitamin and nutrient content.  Perfect examples are ice cream, potato chips, pretty much anything high in fat, anything processed or anything that contains a high percentage of calories without much weight.

Eating calorie dense foods will not make you fat but eating too many of them will.  If you monitor your food intake by tracking your food, be aware of what you are doing and make the conscious effoct to look at things from nutrient dense vs calorie dense eye glasses then the chances of keeping your calories under control is much much better.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Of all the changes taking place on the food front, one of the most important concerns the balance between diet and exercise. It’s still true that to maintain a healthy weight, calories consumed must equal calories burned. Tip that balance one way and you drop pounds; tip it the other way and you gain. Period. Paragraph.

But this summer a landmark study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that it’s not just how much food you eat, but which kind, that influences weight gain. After adjusting for age, baseline body mass index and lifestyle factors such as exercise and sleep duration in 120,000 participants, the authors found that the foods most associated with adding pounds over a four-year period were french fries, potato chips, sugary drinks, meats, sweets and refined grains. The foods most associated with shedding pounds were yogurt, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

But there’s more than simple caloric arithmetic at work here. When you sit down to a meal, your brain is looking for nutrients, not calories, and will prod you to eat until you’re satisfied. That’s one of the many reasons it’s harder to push away from a plate of fries or a bowl of ice cream than from a healthier meal of fruits, vegetables, grains and lean meats.

A similar matter of digestive mechanics is at work too. High-fiber foods expand in the stomach, slowing digestion and augmenting satiety. That’s the reason I try to eat fruit or a handful of nuts prior to a big meal. Consuming a controlled amount of calories from the right kind of food now helps avoid taking in many more calories from the wrong kind later.

Picture of man with ice cream

The simple answer is the food that is the most dense in calories. However this wouldn't tell the whole story. A better answer would be every calorie that you eat after your body has met its caloric metabolic needs for the day.

What this means is: if you need 1800 calories per day to maintain your body weight on a daily basis, every calorie that you consume above that need generally speaking goes 100% to weight gain. The math works out that for every 3500 calories of surplus intake above your metabolic needs you gain 1lb of body fat or body weight.

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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.