Why the Caloric Density of Food Matters

calorie density of food

How Does Calorie Density Affect Your Food Choices?


Although it’s not as popular as calorie counting or counting your macros, understanding caloric density helps you control your diet and either lose fat or gain muscle depending on your goals.


What Does Caloric Density Mean?

Caloric density refers to the relationship between how many calories are in a particular food and the weight of the food. This relationship is typically measured by the number of calories per 100 grams of food.


So, why is caloric density important to your health? Increasing the number of foods you eat that have a low caloric density is a great way to cut down on eating heavier foods that generally contain more calories but don’t make you feel as full. In other words, foods with low caloric density allow you to lose weight while eating more food.


Here Are Some Examples

A simple way to think about calorie density is to compare different foods. For instance, a large McDonalds fry weighs in at a little over 500 calories. As a comparison, you would have to eat 75 cups of romaine lettuce to get to 500 calories. It’s unlikely anyone would ever eat that much lettuce, but the lesson is that foods with a lower caloric density will keep you full for a fraction of the calories.


A more realistic example would be that two tablespoons of olive oil is over 200 calories, but a can of seltzer water is zero calories. The latter will make you feel full, while the former won’t make much of a difference to your satiety.


What Foods Are Calorie Dense?

While there are foods that are calorie dense and healthy, many processed foods contain fat and sugar, which increase the calories you’re taking in but doesn’t satisfy you. Here’s a brief list of some of the highest calorie dense foods:


  • Oils
  • Chips
  • Candy
  • Pastries
  • Sauces
  • Nuts
  • Cheese


If you’re trying to keep yourself full without increasing your calorie intake, here are some foods that aren’t as calorie dense:


  • Vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Eggs
  • Fruit
  • Legumes


Depending on what your goals are—losing fat or gaining muscle—using caloric density to guide your diet choices is a smart way to get started.


How Caloric Density Can Help with Weight Loss and Weight Gain

Eating foods that aren’t calorie dense is a great way to cut down on eating heavier foods that are generally more calories. Less calorie dense foods allow you to eat more without packing on extra calories, thus helping you to lose weight.


If you’re trying to gain weight or muscle, focusing your diet on calorie dense foods will help you speed up the process.


If you’re looking for someone to help you determine what diet best fits your needs, reach out to us today. We love to help our clients get their diet in check. Nutrition is a key building block for wellness, and whether you’re looking to lose fat or build muscle, we can help you reach your goals.

Why the Caloric Density of Food Matters

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