A Closer Look at Energy Density - Part 2

A Closer Look at Energy Density - Part 2

In last week's Tip, we went over the concept of Energy Density and how utilizing less energy-dense food options can potentially keep you more full and lead to EASIER and BETTER results in both the short and long term. If you missed it, you can find that HERE.

In this Tip, things are going to get real spicy because we going over why some foods just can't really fit into an ethical dietary framework.

To do this, we are going to SHOW you...not tell you.

Check out the graphic below.

Each of these comparisons shows the Energy Density of the food and the number of calories you would need to get 30 grams of protein.

Most nutritional problems are logistical problems and although everyone is a unique snowflake at a certain point we all melt the same.

If you want to retain muscle on a diet you likely want to be eating at least 0.8 g/lb of protein and if you want to gain muscle while losing fat all the studies we have are above 1.0 g/lb of protein per day [1-3].

For muscle, we also likely want to break this protein intake into three to five meals or snacks per day of at least 30 grams of protein (for the super nerds 0.18 g/lb per eating occasion) [4].

Now, to put all these theoretical numbers into something useful let's estimate a 25-30% deficit of calories for a 155-pound female to be around 1,400 calories per day. This would mean this loverly lady would want to consume around 125 to 155 grams of protein per day depending on her goal.

If she tried to get these protein amounts with just Meat Lover's pizza she would have to eat 3,500 to 4,300 calories.


Whereas, just 1,400 calories of the My Fit Foods meals above would get her between 125 and 135 grams of protein!

As nutritional consultants, if the goal was Body Recomposition (which we discuss HERE) we would likely get the protein up to 155 grams by utilizing three or four meals and a protein shake.

You are probably thinking that this is a ridiculous comparison, but I would argue that the Godfather Pizza tastes even better than a greasy Meat Lover's pizza and it has 40% of the calories for the same amount of protein!

OK FINE, let's get more realistic and go through just using a Meat Lover's Pizza, a Cheeseburger, or Chicken Nuggets for one 30 gram protein meal.

In this very real-life scenario, if we subtract the calories from the graphic above from the total available of 1,400 our amazingly awesome female example would only have 800 to 570 calories left for the day to consume 100 to 125 grams of protein (which equals 400 to 500 calories)!

You might not like math, but in food that means if this person chose that Meat Lover's pizza for just one protein meal she would pretty much have to eat only chicken breasts or protein shakes the rest of the day to meet both her protein and calorie goal!

It is likely possible for someone to white knuckle it and lose body fat in this way, but it would result in a really low volume of food that likely wouldn't keep her full. Additionally, she would very likely be deficient in pretty much every vitamin and mineral.

Thus, this type of dietary philosophy just isn't a viable choice long-term and this is the downside that no one really wants to talk about when it comes to If It Fits Your Macros.

You can probably fit most foods into a fat loss schematic, but there are always costs and some ultra-processed energy-dense protein-deficient foods make getting a nutritionally adequate diet pretty much impossible.



1. Morton, R.W., et al., A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. Br J Sports Med, 2018. 52(6): p. 376-384.
2. Hector, A.J. and S.M. Phillips, Protein Recommendations for Weight Loss in Elite Athletes: A Focus on Body Composition and Performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab, 2018. 28(2): p. 170-177.
3. Longland, T.M., et al., Higher compared with lower dietary protein during an energy deficit combined with intense exercise promotes greater lean mass gain and fat mass loss: a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr, 2016. 103(3): p. 738-46.
4. Moore, D.R., Maximizing Post-exercise Anabolism: The Case for Relative Protein Intakes. Front Nutr, 2019. 6: p. 147.