2.03 Calorie Balance
Having an appropriate calorie balance is very important, however, if you eat predominately whole plant foods such as fruits and vegetables, it is much more difficult to overeat calories. You can eat essentially all that you want on a whole food plant based diet without gaining weight with a few exceptions. This has to do with how low in “calorie density” whole plant foods are which we will go over shortly.
Eating processed foods, meat/poultry/seafood, and oils make it much easier to over consume calories. If you eat only vegetables, your stomach can only hold about 400 calories, but processed foods and oils are much more calorie dense leading easily to calorie over-consumption.
It makes sense that if you eat too many calories you will gain weight, become overweight or obese and have significantly higher heart disease and death risk. The HeartStrong.com video “Weight Loss: Basic Concepts” covers in detail how you can determine the number of calories that you burn off every day. While some places say you need to adjust the number of calories based on your metabolism and physical activity which includes meticulously counting and tracking calories, the whole foods plant based dietary pattern does not require this at all as it is nearly impossible to overeat calories. Regardless, you do want to balance the calories in your nutrition and the calories you burn every day the right way to get your body mass index (BMI) within the normal range of 18.5-25 and keep it there long-term.
So on a whole food plant based dietary pattern…there is NO calorie counting at all! Having said that, understanding which plant foods when overconsumed can lead to weight gain is important. This we will talk about now when we learn about “calorie density”.