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Low Calorie Dense Foods
Updated on August 16, 2022
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Diet / Weight Loss
Low Calorie Dense Foods

Low calorie-dense foods are low in calories but high in nutrition. These foods are filling because you can eat a high volume without eating too many calories. 

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Low Calorie Density — What Is It?

Calorie density is a way of measuring the number of calories in a given amount of food. The more “calorie-dense” the food, the more calories it contains.

For example, a pound of grapes contains over 300 calories, while a pound of doughnuts contains more than 2000 calories. It’s the same weight of food, but the latter contains more calories. 

Low calorie-dense foods have a low calorie-to-weight ratio. 

Switching to a low calorie-dense diet can help you lose weight. This is particularly true if you’ve been eating more calories than your body needs, or if you spend less energy than you consume. 

The diet can reduce your daily calorie intake without sacrificing your nutritional needs. It encourages you to eat more low calorie-dense foods and eat less of high calorie density foods.

What Are Low Calorie Dense Foods?

Low calorie-dense foods contain few calories per serving. Examples of foods that have low calorie density include:

  • Vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables
  • Lean proteins including chicken, white fish, and turkey
  • Fruits with a high dietary fiber and water content, especially berries
  • Reduced-fat milk and yogurt with no added sugar
  • Whole eggs which are packed with protein
  • Some starchy carbs including legumes and root vegetables
  • Water, coffee, and tea

Low calorie-dense foods are also highly nutritious. They contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. Nutritionists sometimes refer to them as nutrient-dense foods.

On the contrary, high calorie-dense foods contain more calories and fewer nutrients per serving. Some of them even have “empty calories” and have zero nutritional value.

Foods with high calorie density aren’t always unhealthy. Many of these foods like olive oil or avocadoes are rich in healthy fats, which can be good for you. 

However, you need to limit the amount of high calorie-dense foods that you eat, especially if your goal is losing weight. 

If you want to lose weight, you have to eat healthy and satisfying foods, without adding too many calories to your daily diet. 

Weight loss diets like Noom and calorie restriction usually call for these kinds of food.

Low Calorie Foods vs. Low Calorie Density Foods

A low-calorie diet is about reducing your total calories. It doesn’t consider the nutrition of food. 

Low-calorie foods can help you lose weight, but it’s rarely effective long-term. Since it will likely stop you from eating your favorite foods, you are more likely to experience cravings and eventually binge on them.

This diet is also very unhealthy. In many cases, when someone cuts back on their calories, they don’t get the nutrients their body needs to function optimally. 

Examples of low-calorie options lacking in nutrient value include lean red meat, preserved fruits, and dried fish.

Dieting with a focus on low-calorie foods requires constant calorie counting. For many, this process can be too tedious. 

When you focus on eating low calorie-dense foods, you don’t need to count calories. In most cases, people are full before they eat too many calories. 

It’s because low calorie-dense foods have a high water content and a lot of fiber. Water and fiber add bulk to your diet. They can satiate you and make you feel full for longer periods. 

To avoid malnutrition when cutting calories, eat low-calorie and nutrient-dense foods, such as:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Low-fat dairy including skim milk and cottage cheese
  • Whole grains
  • Herbs and spices

On a low calorie-dense diet, you might consume the same number of calories you would on a low-calorie diet. The difference is that you will feel satisfied with fewer calories, and still get plenty of nutrition while you lose weight.

Low Calorie-Dense Foods & Weight Loss

Eating low calorie density foods leaves you feeling full for a longer time. You won’t need to eat as often to satiate your hunger, which can help you lose weight. 

If you want to follow a low calorie-dense diet, here’s what you can do:

  • Eat less processed foods and more whole nutritious foods.
  • Choose lean meats with better nutrition (e.g., fish and chicken).
  • Eat more foods rich in micronutrients and anti-oxidants.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Try the Noom Diet Plan

How to Lose Weight with a Low Calorie Dense Diet

For many people, low calorie-density diets seem like a drastic change in their daily calorie intake. Even if you’re eating the same volume of food, it can take some getting used to. 

This is why it’s so important to develop a healthier eating habit with balanced nutrition in mind. Part of this is learning to listen to your body. 

Replace High Calorie Density Foods with Low Calorie Dense Foods

The calorie density approach doesn’t mean you should deprive yourself of food. Instead of stopping yourself from eating foods, try making healthier food choices. This means eating low calorie-dense foods when you feel hungry. 

It allows you to eat more without increasing your calories too much.

Eat Healthier Alternatives

You don’t need to remove your favorite foods from your diet. Eating them less frequently and in smaller quantities is the best way to go if you want to lose weight.

You can also replace your guilty pleasures with healthier alternatives. Instead of milk chocolate, you can eat dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Learn the Noom Diet

Using calorie density is one of the most effective ways to eat fewer total calories without feeling deprived. If you’re interested in long-term and healthy weight loss, Noom can help. 

Noom's weight loss program is based on the principle of calorie density. It encourages users to consume fewer calories by eating low calorie-dense and nutrient-rich foods.

The Noom app teaches you to portion your meals and make healthier food choices. Read our full review of Noom.

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Noom Weight Loss

What makes the Noom app truly special is that it doesn’t stop once you lost weight. By offering health coaching, peer support, and education, it establishes healthy habits which can last a lifetime.


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  1. Weight loss: Feel full on fewer calories.” Mayo Clinic.
  2. Calorie density key to losing weight.” Pennsylvania State University.
  3. Eat More, Weigh Less?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kelly Jamrozy
Kelly Jamrozy
Content Contributor
Kelly has experience working with clients in a variety of industries, including legal, medical, marketing, and travel. Her goal is to share important information that people can use to make decisions about their health and the health of their loved ones. From choosing the best treatment programs to improving dental and vision health to finding the best method for helping anyone who is struggling with health issues, she hopes to share what she learns through informative content.
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