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Caloric Density Explained

Caloric density is something that I’ve discussed before, and one of the best tools you can use to either gain or lose weight at will. 

One of my favorite examples is to show the caloric density of certain gourmet raw food items and the caloric density of the foods they are trying to imitate. In most cases, the raw food has over twice the amount of calories and several times the amount of fat.

Of course there are other things to consider besides just fat and calories when it comes to food, but this does point out the significance of calorie density when it comes to our health and waistlines.

Check out this great clip of Jeff Novick explaining all about calorie density and you’ll learn:

• The difference between caloric density and caloric volume, and how this affects your health
• Why some foods are so easy to overeat on
• How the volume and total weight of the food you eat plays a role in feeling satisfied
• What causes a food to be more or less calorie dense
• How you can eat more and weight less

Learning about calorie density is an eye-opener for many people, especially when they understand why two plates of foods can look the same in volume but be dramatically different nutritionally.

That doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid calorie-dense foods. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts are all very concentrated foods, but they can still be included in smaller amounts in a healthy diet.

If you wish to lose weight:
Eat ONLY caloric dense foods.


Caloric Density Per Pound

Fresh raw or cooked veggies 100
Fresh raw fruit 250-300
Cooked Starchy Vegetables, Intact Whole Grains 450-500
Legumes and Beans 550-600
Meat Products 900-1000
Dried Fruit 1200
Processed grains and Flours (even if made from whole grains) 1200-1500
Cheese 1800
Nuts and Seeds 2800
Cheese 1800
Oil 4000


Keep in mind that this is an average across a category. For example, we know that bananas contain more calories per weight than apples, but overall fruits have a similar caloric density.

Looking at this table, you’d be tempted to only eat vegetables, as they contain only 100 calories per pound. It’s important to note that nobody can live on just vegetables, and that you’d get so hungry on a diet of just vegetables that you’d eventually break down and eat something else! However, you want your diet to contain plenty of raw vegetables by weight.

The concept of caloric density is to look at the overall caloric density of your meals.

If the caloric density of your food is below 400 calories per pound, you will lose weight no matter what you do!

If you wish to gain weight: increase the caloric density of your food by eating fewer water-rich foods and more concentrated, caloric-dense foods.


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Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.