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What is Calorie Density?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Calorie density is another way of measuring the weight associated with a specified amount of a particular food. Often referred to as energy density, the idea behind measuring the calorie density is to determine whether a given food provides a higher amount of vitamins and nutrients while containing fewer calories per ounce or gram. Determining this measurement can be especially important for people who are attempting to lose weight or need to monitor food consumption due to an existing health issue.

Many foods with a lower calorie density contain a significant amount of water. At the same time, the fat content is often lower in foods with a low caloric density. Raw fruits and vegetables are two examples. Foods like apples, broccoli, and carrots are relatively low in calories per ounce, contain significant amounts of nutrients, and contain very little fat. The water content helps to make foods of this type filling. As a result, consumption of low calorie density fruits and vegetables will satisfy hunger cravings with less calories involved while still providing plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Low amounts of caloric density are not limited to fruits and vegetables. Lean meats usually contain fewer calories per ounce or gram. Low fat dairy products like fat free milk will still contain plenty of nutrients but have a very low caloric density. Even some snacks, such a pretzel sticks, will provide more nutrients than other empty calorie snacks and have a comparatively low amount of calories per ounce.

One of the problems many people have with diet plans is they tend to focus on limiting the number of calories that are consumed at each meal. Using calorie density helps to shift the focus slightly. It is possible to enjoy larger portions of various foods and still consume less calories overall.

Becoming acquainted with the calorie density of various foods can be very helpful when dieting. Instead of following a rigid diet plan that is built around small portions, it is possible to lose weight by choosing foods that are healthier and are more filling. For example, it is possible to enjoy six ounces of a lean meat instead of settling for three ounces of a meat that is higher in calories and contains a lot of fat. For an accompanying vegetable, the dieter may choose to go with a steamed dark green vegetable instead of fried potatoes. Instead of pudding for dessert, choosing to go with a baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon would still be filling, but contain fewer calories.

Watching calorie density is also helpful for people seeking to control diabetes with diet. Many foods with a lower caloric density also contain more of the type of carbohydrates that persons monitoring blood glucose levels need to maintain a healthy level of energy. At the same time, the foods are less likely to contain fats and starches that should be kept to a minimum by anyone in a prediabetic or diabetic state.

Choosing to follow a diet that considers the calorie density of different foods is healthy for just about everyone. Meals will provide more vitamins and minerals while limiting the intake of fats and starches. As a result, the individual is likely to feel more invigorated and have less trouble maintaining a desirable weight.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By GreenWeaver — On Jan 02, 2011

Comfyshoes-Oh I have heard of that system. It assigns a point value to every food and allows you to eat what you want based on this system.

You are given your initial points based on your weight and age and then you are given an additional 45 points that you can use however you want in order to make the program more manageable.

I have to say that it is an easy program to follow and you do lose weight. You also really understand the calorie dense foods and how to make better food choices in order to be able to get more mileage from your points.

The points plus system really takes carbohydrates into consideration and really allows unlimited fruits and vegetables because they have no points associated with them.

It is really a sound nutritional program that aids in a safe and healthy weight loss of one to two pounds a week. This is really a lifestyle change that causes you to think about how to eat properly and develop a better quality of life.

By comfyshoes — On Dec 30, 2010

Sneakers41-I know that Weight Watchers sells a calorie counting guide for dining out and for regular everyday foods.

They also have a fat and calorie counter that also measures the fiber and protein of each of the foods. It is electronic and you input the information and it tells you the point value so that you can use it on their point system.

By sneakers41 — On Dec 28, 2010

Cupcake15-That is so true. You can really have a little bit of everything and if you make small substitutions like that it won’t wreck your diet.

I think that Chinese food calories are also very dense. Many people have the assumption because they are eating foods with vegetables that they must be healthy.

Well I was shocked when I looked up the calories in food like fried rice and Mongolian beef at PF Changs.

For example a serving of fried rice has 1,000 calories and a serving of Mongolian beef has 1,200 calories.

Really a serving at the restaurant contains about three to four servings tiny servings, so one fourth of a plateful would be about 300 calories. It is really important to look up the fat and calorie counters on the restaurant’s website because this can be a great calorie counting guide.

By cupcake15 — On Dec 27, 2010

Bestcity- That is a good point. It is really important to have a calorie counting guide in order to learn how to count calories.

Many foods are calorie dense meaning that they are very high in calories but provide very little nutritional value.

For example a fast food calorie is laden with fat, and cholesterol and high levels of sodium. For example, if you had a choice of having a bowl of chili, a baked potato, and a banana with a glass of milk it would be the equivalent to a double quarter pounder only.

Low calorie density foods offer more nutrition per calorie as well as being more satisfying and filling. A double quarter pounder alone will not be as filling as eating a bowl of chili, a baked potato and a banana with a glass of milk.

This is why it is easy to understand that not all calories are created equal. If you make healthy substitutions you can enjoy fast food once in a while.

For example, you can have a bowl of chili and a side of French fries and a glass of milk and keep the banana and only change the caloric intake by about 125 calories more. You could also order a double cheeseburger with a side of chili and milk and you will have only increased the calories in the meal by about 100 calories if you include the banana.

By bestcity — On Oct 19, 2008

Usually wet foods are less calorie dense then dry foods. Wet foods also take more space in the stomach making us feel full with less calories. That is why it is good to eat soups, particularly when we want to watch our calorie intake.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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