Energy Density & Fiber

I read two studies from the May issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for continuing education credit. I normally don’t post about such studies, but these two were rather interesting.

Energy density is a way to measure food in calories per weight. Generally, this means that foods high in fiber and water are going to have lower energy density. A meta-analysis of 17 studies in adults and six studies in children found that low energy density foods were associated with lower fat mass and lead to improved weight loss and weight maintenance among both adults and children (1).

But when it comes to fiber intake, Americans barely increased their fiber intake from 1999 to 2008; it changed from 15.6 to 15.9 grams per day. The recommended amount of fiber for adults is 25 to 38 grams per day (or 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed).


1. Pérez-Escamilla R, Obbagy JE, Altman JM, Essery EV, McGrane MM, Wong YP, Spahn JM, Williams CL. Dietary energy density and body weight in adults and children: a systematic review. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 May;112(5):671-84. | link

2. King DE, Mainous AG 3rd, Lambourne CA. Trends in dietary fiber intake in the United States, 1999-2008. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 May;112(5):642-8. Epub 2012 Apr 25. | link

4 Responses to “Energy Density & Fiber”

  1. Janae @ Bring-Joy Says:

    I’m always astounded when I read about the average American’s fiber intake. 15 grams?! That’s ridiculously low. I couldn’t imagine only getting 15 grams! As a vegan, I average about 70-80 grams daily.

  2. LynnCS Says:

    I knew that I needed more fiber and a lot more nutrients when I discovered the Raw Vegan diet. Between my green smoothies, other fruits and vegis, and my wonderful mega salad at night, I get those in spades. It’s a wonderful life.

  3. veganlinda Says:

    Is it possible to get too much fiber as an adult or child? We eat a lot of fiber and I’ve read some articles that say children shouldn’t have too fiber-rich a diet because the nutrients won’t be absorbed before they pass through. True? How much would be too much? My kids have been vegan for 12, 8, and almost 5 years and seem to be thriving on a vegan diet that happens to have a lot of fiber so I’m not worried, just curious.

    On a side note, I’m curious what you think about The Starch Solution by the McDougalls. Have you read it?

  4. Jack Norris RD Says:


    The typical recommendations are that kids get half their servings of grains as processed (i.e., white) to cut down on the bulk. This is generally because they might not eat enough calories rather than to increase nutrient absorption. If your kids iron levels are good and you are making sure they meet the RDA for calcium, then it sounds like you have your bases covered.

    > I’m curious what you think about The Starch Solution by the McDougalls. Have you read it?

    I haven’t — I generally stick to reading published papers.

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