When it comes to weight loss and healthy weight loss, you sometimes hear the term “calorie density.” But what does that actually mean exactly? In this blog article, we want to explain everything you need to know about calorie density and how it affects satiety. We’ll look at what calorie density actually means, which foods have high and low calorie density, and how a low calorie density diet can help you feel fuller and still keep your weight off.
What is this calorie density?
The calorie density of a food indicates how many calories are contained per gram of food. So you divide the number of calories by the weight of the food. Caloric density is also called energy density. Foods with high energy density have more calories per gram than foods with low energy density.
For clarification, we would like to present you with an example.
Suppose you want to calculate the caloric density of an apple that weighs 150 grams and contains a total of 80 calories. Then the calorie density is calculated as follows:
Caloric density of the apple = 80 calories / 150 grams = 0.53 calories per gram.
This means that the apple has a low caloric density.
Suppose you now want to calculate the caloric density of a serving of French fries that weighs 200 grams and contains a total of 600 calories. Then the calorie density is calculated as follows:
Calorie density fries = 600 calories / 200 grams = 3 calories per gram.
This means that French fries have a high calorie density and are a high calorie food.
You want to lose weight and are looking for an effective method? Then the energy density of the food could be an important factor for you. By calculating the calorie density of foods, you can better assess which foods you should prefer in your diet to achieve a balanced and healthy diet. A low calorie density diet will help you feel full faster and eat fewer calories. This is because foods with a low calorie density often have a higher volume and therefore help to fill our stomach faster. And when you feel full faster, you automatically eat less.
Foods with high calorie density
Foods with high energy density contain many calories per gram. This means that they provide you with a lot of energy, but are not necessarily filling. So if you want to lose weight, you should be careful not to include high energy density foods in your diet too often. Here are some examples of high energy density foods:
- Sweets: Sweets such as chocolate, gummy bears or cookies are delicious, but they are also very high in calories. A small bar of chocolate (about 30 grams) can contain about 150 calories.
- Fatty Meats: Fatty meats such as beef, pork or lamb have a high energy density. For example, a serving of beef (about 85 grams) has about 215 calories.
- Cheese: Cheese is a popular food, but it is also high in calories. For example, a slice of cheddar cheese (about 28 grams) has about 115 calories.
- Dried fruit: Dried fruit such as raisins, dates or apricots have a higher energy density than fresh fruit because the water has been removed. One cup of raisins (about 165 grams) has about 434 calories.
- Nuts: Nuts are rich in nutrients and can be a healthy addition to your diet, but they also have a high energy density. For example, a handful of almonds (about 30 grams) has about 160 calories.
If you’re trying to lose weight or reduce your calorie intake, you should enjoy these foods in moderation and incorporate more low energy density foods instead.
Foods with low calorie density
If you are trying to reduce your calorie intake, you should incorporate low calorie density foods into your diet. There are many delicious and nutritious options that can fill you up and help you reach your goal. Here are some examples of low calorie density foods:
- Vegetables: Vegetables are usually low in calories and contain a lot of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Some examples of low-calorie vegetables are broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini and leaf lettuce.
- Fruit: Fruit is high in nutrients and fiber, but also contains natural sugars. If you want to reduce your calorie intake, look for fruits with low calorie density, such as apples, oranges, berries, peaches or melons.
- Legumes: Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans or peas are a good source of plant protein and fiber. They are also low in calories and can help you feel fuller longer.
- Fish: Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but also low in calories. Some examples of low-calorie fish are cod, pollock, redfish or trout.
- Lean Meat: Lean meats such as chicken breast, turkey breast, or beef tenderloin contain a lot of protein and are low in calories. However, you should be careful not to season or bread it too much to keep calorie intake low.
How can a low calorie density diet help me lose weight?
Why is energy density important when losing weight? Foods with high energy density often have a high fat and sugar content, which leads to the increased calorie content. If you consume these foods in large quantities, it can lead to excess calories, which will contribute to you gaining weight. Low energy density foods, on the other hand, contain fewer calories per gram and can help you feel full without eating too many calories.
How can you incorporate energy density into your diet? Here are some tips:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: These foods have a low energy density because they contain a lot of water and fiber. They fill your stomach and make you full without providing many calories.
- Swap out so-called refined carbohydrates for whole grains: Refined carbohydrates such as white bread and white rice have a higher energy density than whole grain products such as whole wheat bread and brown rice. Whole grain products are also richer in fiber and will keep you full longer.
- Avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods: These foods are high in energy density and can quickly lead to excess calories. Instead, try switching to low-fat alternatives, such as low-fat dairy products and low-fat proteins like chicken and fish.
- Eat soups and stews: these dishes have a low energy density because they contain a lot of water. They can help you feel full without consuming a lot of calories.
By incorporating low energy density foods into your diet, you can reduce your caloric intake and help your body shed the excess fat.
Try it out and see how you feel and how your body reacts!
Losing weight can be quite frustrating.
If aggravating diseases such as Hashimoto's, lipedema or drug therapies with cortisone or antidepressants are added to the mix, there seems to be no way out. As a nutritionist at My Weight®, I support my patients individually and personally on their way to their desired weight. Losing weight can and should be fun...and we work on that together! 😊
Maike - Weight Buddy® and nutritionist at My Weight®