Caloric density – the key to weight-loss success!

By Robyn Chuter

  • Caloric density expresses the energy (i.e. kilojoules/calories) per gram of foods.
  • Most whole, unrefined plant foods have low caloric density.
  • People tend to eat the same weight of food each day, regardless of its energy density.
  • Stacking your diet with low caloric density foods allows you to lose weight without counting calories or reducing portion size.


One of the most magical things about a diet based on unrefined plant foods is that it facilitates almost effortless weight loss. The scientific principle behind this magic trick is caloric density.

So what’s caloric density? It’s simply a measurement of the calories/kilojoules per gram of a particular food.

Foods with a high water and fibre content, but a low fat content, have low caloric density. They provide fewer calories per serving, meaning that you can have bigger servings, or more servings, without taking in excessive calories. Giving foods with low caloric density centre stage on your plate is the most effective long-term weight management strategy there is.

Interestingly, researchers have found that people tend to eat the same weight of food each day regardless of the composition of the diet, so choosing foods that have fewer calories per gram is obviously going to lead to lower calorie intake, and therefore weight loss.

Here is the caloric density of some representative foods:


Get the picture? Vegetables, fruits and legumes have very low caloric density, so you can eat as much of them as you like without fear of exceeding your calorie needs. Fortunately, these foods are also high in nutrient per calorie density… but that’s a post for another day.