Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Does Caloric Density Mean?

Here's an excerpt of a post I wrote for our website at work, Please check out our podiatry website! There's a lot of info about foot pain and how to prevent problems with your feet.

In the mean time, when I tell people I studied nutrition, I get a lot of questions about what to/not to eat to maintain health and especially to stay or get to a healthy weight. Some people think the trick to losing weight is eating "less." False! Starving yourself is just setting yourself up for failure and can be very unhealthy. Instead, eat a diet low in calories, high in food volume and vitamins/minerals (micronutrients.)

Here's what I said about calories for a post on Valentine's Day Chocolate, it's a tiny bit technical, but it covers the basics of Caloric density:

Chocolate can cause weight gain due to something called caloric density. Caloric density is how many calories are in a given mass.  For example, one pound of broccoli will have far fewer calories than one pound of chocolate. There are two reasons for this caloric discrepancy.

First, the type of macronutrients in the food.
This shows how many calories are in a gram of fat, protein, carbohydrate, and alcohol. 
Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories
Alcohol: 1 gram = 7 calories 
Chocolate has a lot more fat than broccoli.  Fat is one of the four “macronutrients,” or nutrients that give us energy. It has the highest caloric density, 9 calories in each gram, compared with 4 calories per gram in carbs and protein.

Second, the proportion of macronutrients to other food volume.
Chocolate is almost pure macronutrient: sugar and cocoa (carbohydrate); and butter (fat). Each bite is pure energy. Broccoli has macronutrients (mostly carbohydrate) but also contains a lot of fiber and water, so there are fewer macronutrients in each bite.

So, if you are choosing a diet that’s not calorically dense in effort to lose weight, consider:
· Do you have a healthy balance of macronutrients (fat, carb, and protein)?
· Are you eating foods high in fiber?
· Are you eating foods high in water?

Take home message: It’s Valentine’s Day, enjoy some chocolates!:)  Eating a few chocolates won’t wreck a healthy diet, but for every day eating, stick with foods that are less calorie dense.

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