Calorie Density Charts


Calorie Density Chart
Food Calories per pound
Vegetables 60 – 195
Fruits 140 – 420
Unrefined carbohydrates – potatoes, pasta, rice, barley, yams, corn, hot cereals 320 – 630
Beans, Peas, Lentils, Legumes (cooked) 310 – 780
Breads, Bagels, Fat-fee muffins, Dried Fruit 920 – 1,360
Fatty protein (meats & cheeses) 1,000 – 1,800
Sugars (sugar, honey, molasses, agave, corn syrup, maple syrup) 1,200 – 1,800
Dry cereals, baked chips, fat free crackers, pretzels, popcorn 1,480 – 1,760
Nuts, seeds, nut butters, tahini 2,400 – 3,200
Oils- liquid at room temp.(olive, canola) and Fats- solid at room temp (butter, margarine) 4,000

Figure 5. Calorie Density. Calories per pound. Adapted from J. Novick. 1998. Retrieved September 20, 2016  & Understanding Calorie Density.

Keep in mind, these are general averages and estimates of calories per pound, some products may not fall in line with these estimates. Beverages are purposely excluded from this list due to the weight of water. One pound of water has zero calories, but a soda/pop/juice for example can have a different caloric load based upon the amount of sugar it contains. Dry cereals, rice, and pasta also change their caloric density with the addition of water.


Figure 6. Novick, J. (MS RD) (1998).Calorie Density. Reprinted from J. Novick. 1998. Retrieved September 20, 2016

The green line on the above graph, developed by Jeff Novick, represents the average caloric intake per pound an individual should consume per meal. However, this can be hard to calculate for even those who are extremely knowledgeable about calorie density. Therefore, Chef AJ, a chef for TrueNorth health center in Santa Rosa, CA and the developer of the Ultimate Weight Loss program, also uses a graph fairly similar to the one above. She uses a red line, which is just to the right of legumes on the graph above, and informs people to “eat to the left of the red line.” To explain this chart in a little more detail, Jeff Novick (2012), Master of Science and Registered Dietitian, explains on his website that:

“People can eat freely of foods that are 300 calories/lb or less and not gain weight. People can consume relatively large portions of foods that are between 300 and 800 and still lose or maintain their weight depending on their individual activity level and metabolism” (para. 8).

Regarding the principles of calorie Density, Jeff Novick (2012) states:

“Calorie density is the simplest, easiest approach to healthy eating. It is easy to understand and follow and is the most common sense approach to sound nutrition. In addition, by following the principles of calorie density, you will also meet all your other nutritional needs including vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, essential fats, etc.” (para. 1).

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