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C is for Caloric Density

A to Z Blog
November 29, 20212 min read

C is for Caloric Density

A single blueberry contains one calorie. A Calorie is a simply a measure of the amount of (kcals) in a food. The law of energy states that energy can neither be created or destroyed, only converted. The excess energy from food must be stored.

Much of today's food provides much more energy than we need.If we don't expend this energy, it gets stored and we get to carry it around. The basic concept of caloric density, (the amount of calories relative to weight or volume) is a useful concept. Another word we use is “fattening”. When you understand caloric density you can apply it to all foods.


Three key things to know: 

  1. Foods composed of fat, are more calorically dense. 

FATS have 9 cals/gram. PROTEIN and CARBOHYDRATES have half that (4 cals/gram). So fats have more than twice the energy in calories. It’s not necessary to avoid them, as some are healthy fats, and they add satiety to foods. It makes sense to be aware of portions of these foods. Examples are butter, nuts, seeds, avocado, oils, meat and dairy, snack foods and deserts.


  1. Caloric density sneaks into our foods via processing, and preparation. 

Caloric density is most often added to our food, in the form of fats and concentrated carbohydrate. Foods in restaurants are made to delight our tastes, often prepared with added oil or fried, rich sauces and butter. Most store-bought processed foods contain added fat and sugar. Read the label on snack foods, baked goods, deserts, cereals, energy bars, you see the added ingredients. These all add to caloric density.


  1. The foods low in caloric density are also high in fiber and hydration (they contain more water) and you can eat more.

These are mostly the whole plant foods, the vegetables, all the fruits, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, grains, peas, lentils, beans. These LOW caloric density foods are high in WATER and FIBER. When you eat these foods you take in less calories. You can add healthy fats, butter and seasonings to these foods and still come out ahead.

Jenifer Paredes

"I can't imagine a better way to use our mind than in service of a healthier body"

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