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Tip: Caloric Density

Tip: Caloric Density

Caloric Density (or Calorie Density) is just the simple ratio of Calories to Weight (grams) of food. It’s a measure of how “packed with calories” food is. The lower the number, the better – you should shoot for 1.00 or less (or to think of it another way – try to eat food that has fewer calories than grams). For example, celery and strawberries are extremely low – french fries and corn dogs are very high. If you’re trying to lose weight, simple math would imply that foods with lower caloric density will give you less that you have to burn off, while still giving a sense of having eaten a large amount of food. It’s not a perfect system – there is some research that indicates that some foods with a relatively high density (nuts, for example), actually make you feel full longer, and the type of calories is important too (sometimes referred to as “net calories” – what’s left after the work the body has to do to get the calories out).

I’ve decided to start listing Caloric Density as a quick guide to how “heavy” food is that I review. I may even make it part of the star rating at some point, but it’s really just a subset of nutrition. Your input is appreciated on how much I should weigh this as part of my ratings. I will list it on a line like this (here is an example of a bad Caloric Density):

Calories per package: 350 (Caloric Density 1.51)

Note that sometimes I have to estimate it based on incomplete information. For example, when a product is listed by volume rather than weight (such as soups), or when water has to be added to prepare the product (I add 1 gram per ml added). I’ll try to indicate when I’ve had to estimate.

P.S. Here is a good discussion of Caloric Density on CalorieKing. Nope, we’re not related in any way to them – but they certainly have a great name! 🙂

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