What Is Calorie Density?
The calorie density (or energy density) of food is a measurement of the average calories per weight of that food.
If you’re looking for guidance on what types of foods you should consume each day in order to reach, but not go over, your Calorie Target it’s worthwhile considering a food’s calorie density. By choosing foods that have a low-calorie density you can eat more food and feel full on fewer calories. This can be especially useful if you have a Calorie Target of 1200 calories or if you don’t exercise much.
Foods that are low in calorie density tend to be high in water and fiber, and low in fat. Examples include fruit, non-sweet fruit, and leafy greens. So for 50 calories you could eat a cup of strawberries (low-calorie density) or one donut hole (high calorie density). It’s easy to see that a cup of strawberries would be more filling, have less fat, and more beneficial nutrients than one donut hole.
I’m finding this helpful to put into practice, because when I’m in an abundant food environment (such as Whole Foods) I find it overwhelming to make decisions about what to eat. Usually, when I’m ready to eat, anything appeals to me, from blueberries to cookies. By knowing the relative calorie densities of foods across the spectrum and making choices based on that, I can feel satisfied while keeping my calories low enough to continue progress. It also keeps calories controlled when splurging (intentional or not). We are human and our situations vary day-to-day, so sometimes it’s not only the progress you make but how far you don’t regress. Just be sure to do your best either way.