What is Caloric Density and why do we care?
Caloric Density refers to the amount of calories in a given weight of food. For instance, how many calories per pound. The more calories in that pound of food, the higher the caloric density. The fewer calories per pound, the lower the caloric density. Makes sense right?!
Here are some factors to consider when contemplating caloric density.
1. WILD FOODS will almost always have lower caloric densities than their farmed counterparts. That would be wild plants, wild fish, and game meats.
2. The LOWEST CALORIC DENSITY foods are LEAFY GREENS and NON STARCHY VEGETABLES.
Here is a chart taken from “Forks Over Knives” Magazine
Non-Starchy Vegetables (Leafy Greens) : 70-200 Calories/Pound
Fruits : 200-400
Tubers and Starchy Vegetables : 300-400
Whole Grains : 400-500
Legumes : 500-600
Avocados : 750
Nuts and Seeds : 2,600
Oils : 4,000
These are the caloric densities of common plant foods. Unfortunately, the magazine does not have listings for animal products as it is a more vegetarian style-magazine. Animal foods generally have higher caloric densities also; while probably not quite as high as nuts or oils.
So why does this matter?
If you look at the foods that are hurting people. The foods that people are over-consuming and causing disease. They are generally going to be foods that have HIGH CALORIC DENSITY. It is not that they are unhealthy. You are just more likely to overeat them.
For instance, milk has a lower caloric density than cheese. Butter will have a higher caloric density than cheese. Ice cream loaded with sugar and eggs will have a MUCH HIGHER caloric density than the whole-food versions.
What is the moral here?
People are not overeating things with LOW CALORIC DENSITIES! We are not consuming too many vegetables and fruits generally. We ARE consuming too much fatty meats, dairy, breaded things, fried foods, baked goods, processed foods, roasted nuts, etc. These things can taste great and are easy to overconsume! So what are we to do?
A great strategy is to plan on consuming LARGE AMOUNTS of LOW CALORIC DENSITY FOODS! Fill up on things like salads, fruits, and vegetables. You are much less likely to overeat these things. Stay away from too much added oils and fats as these will jack up the caloric density. AFTER you fill up on the Healthiest Stuff, you may not want as large amounts of the HIGH DENSITY STUFF.
Again, this is not to say that MEAT is bad, or to stay away from RAW NUTS or whatever. We are just saying that the healthiest stuff generally have low caloric densities. It might also be of notice that low caloric density foods often have some of the highest values of nutrition and vitamins/minerals. When you focus on eating these types of foods; you will get in more nutrition.
Interesting Stuff, Caloric Density Scales!
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