Guide to Calorie Density

When trying to watch what you’re eating in order to lose weight, it’s often best to get a general idea for which foods contain the highest caloric density, and what types of food are generally lower in fat and calories.

Most foods can be classed as either a protein or carbohydrate food source. This doesn’t mean that they are made up of only one particular nutrient, as most foods are actually made up of at least two macronutrients. It means that they are categorized by the predominant nutrient they contain. So for example, a chicken breast is classed as a protein food source, but it also contains fat.

General Rules to Caloric Content in Foods


As a general guide, protein foods can be considered medium to high in calories because they often have a higher proportion of animal fats present. An exception to this rule is if you buy the leanest meats, and trim off the visible fat before cooking the meat. When this is done, the calorie level can be dropped considerably, and small portions of protein foods can be included in the diet without contributing too much to the total energy intake.


Carbohydrate foods are those that tend to have a greater proportion of sugar content over fat or protein. They are referred to as carbohydrate foods because the majority of energy is in the form of sugar, either simple sugars like in many fruits, or complex chains of sugar (starch) like potatoes. They often contain some protein, which is usually incomplete and fat is often present in varying degrees. Typical examples of carbohydrate food sources are bread, pasta, and rice.

Incidentally, many of the carbohydrate foods can add a significant amount of additional energy to the diet if they are prepared using liberal amounts of oil. This will depend on how they are cooked or how the food manufacturer has made the product and the amount of extra fat or other ingredients that have been added during production.

This means that a few innocent carbohydrate foods have become thought of as a fattening food, when in fact they’re not high in energy in the normal state, it is just the way they are prepared that has added to their energy content. The popularity of the product or recipe has then caused them to develop a “bad” reputation in the eyes of regular dieters.

Most fattening foods are those that have a large proportion of fat or oils present, such as lard, etc. Modern fattening food also includes those that have average fat levels, but also contain lots of sugar and protein together. Examples of these are biscuits, pastry and bagels.

Due to evolving laws emphasizing health and nutrition, you can now find the caloric content of just about any food you buy via the label. And for foods not printing the information on their labels, like fruits and vegetables of the fresh variety, for example, you can check out the glycemic index or do a quick online search to find out how many calories the items have.

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