Calorie densityBy Matt Stone

It’s chart time for you numbers nerds. I don’t track numbers as it pertains to my health or diet, but I am, at heart, a bit of a numbers nerd. I find numbers can and do put things into better perspective sometimes.

In my most recent books, I discuss calorie density and obtaining the warming effect from food. The lower one’s metabolism, the higher the calorie-density must be to achieve the “net warming effect” from eating. Thus, during refeeding – a tactic to recover from dietary restriction of varying degrees of severity and increase metabolic rate for general health purposes, the calorie-density of the foods you select is of extreme importance.

I’m a man of prioritization, so when metabolism is low, calorie density trumps all other matters or concerns regarding diet and nutrition. When metabolism is restored, eat all the “health food” you want as long as your basic systems are in good working order.

With further ado, below is the small chart I put together showing calorie-density of some common foods (and cherimoya). I made these calculations based on calories divided by weight in grams. There is only one problem with the chart below – the numbers favor fat content. Fat is incredibly dense compared to other calorie sources, and it is warming no doubt. But ultimately I think carbohydrates provide a greater warming effect per calorie than fat with water content equal. So, looking strictly at calorie density does not reveal the whole story about how warming a food is. I mean, are almonds really 7 times more warming than boiled potatoes because they are 7 times more calorie dense? Don’t think so.

Perhaps in the future I’ll try to put together a carbohydrate-density chart. And then, someday when I’m wearing my fancy pants, I can try to construct a full-on warming chart factoring in salt content, carbohydrate-density, and calorie-density. Yes, a fine day that will be indeed. For now you’ll just have to settle for keeping your ratio of butter cookie intake to acorn squash intake very high if you are actively trying to restore your metabolic rate. I know, it’s upsetting. Just try to dig deep and stir up some willpower.

Calorie Density ChartIf you are curious about juice and soft drinks, most are about the same as the fruit from which they are derived. Soft drinks usually have about the same calorie density of fruit juice. Most non-starchy vegetables end up about where broccoli is at, below 0.5.  Oh, and those pancakes are with butter and syrup. Anyway, I hope this was useful to someone.