Caloric Density of Sugar: What You Should Know

Caloric Density of Sugar: What You Should Know

We all struggle fighting those sugar cravings, but a little bit of context can have a big impact. Understanding how sugar functions in our diet can influence how we think about the foods we eat. Calories are an important energy source for the body, and we all need a specific amount every day to function, but every food has a different calorie density, which affects how these foods interact with our bodies.

By looking at sugar’s calorie density, we can see how valuable or valueless it can be in our diet. Understanding how sugar affects your diet just may influence your choices. 

At Sweetkick, we want to provide you with all of the information you need to know about sugar’s calorie density and what it means so you can take charge of your daily diet.

What Is Calorie Density?

Calorie density measures the calorie content of a food in relation to its weight or volume. Calorie density is usually measured by calories per gram but can also be measured by calories per 100 grams or calories per pound. Every food has its own calorie density, including the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Understanding a food’s calorie density helps you determine its place in your diet and how necessary or unnecessary it may be.

How Do Calories Work?

Calories are the body’s main source of energy, obtained through food. Your body takes these calories and converts them into energy through the metabolism, using them for bodily function, often called “burning calories.” Regular bodily processes like digestion and physical activity both use calories. How much activity you do throughout the day affects how many calories you burn.

Maintaining a consistent weight and bodily function means taking in the same amount of calories you burn daily. The average recommended caloric intake is 2000 calories per day, but this is just an estimate and varies greatly depending on age, weight, and activity.

However, the ways that everyone reaches this daily limit matter greatly. For example, one person could eat plates of vegetables all day and still not reach their daily recommended intake, while another could eat one fast food meal and obtain over half of their recommended intake.

Your calorie intake is the most significant contributor to either weight gain or weight loss. Consistently eating more calories than you burn throughout the day will lead to weight gain, while operating in a calorie deficit, or eating less than you use, will lead to weight loss.

Why Does Calorie Density Matter?

Many foods can be misleading in how many calories they have. For example, you may be surprised that just 100 grams of cashews have 553 calories, while the same amount of rice has just 130 calories. This difference shows how the foods you eat and their calorie density can contribute very differently to your daily calorie intake.

Without an understanding of caloric density, you may indulge in a small portion and take in many more calories than you may have thought. Avoiding calorie-dense foods plays an important role in weight loss, as eating foods with a low calorie density will allow you to eat a higher volume of food and gain less weight.

Eating more foods with fewer calories also diversifies your diet and offers more nutrients. When you eat foods with a lower calorie density, you need to eat more foods to reach your daily recommended calorie intake, allowing you to consume a wider variety of foods with different vitamins and nutrients. 

This provides a much healthier alternative to obtaining your daily intake from fewer foods with limited nutritional value.

Foods with a low calorie density include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and pasta. On the other hand, high calorie density foods include oils, butter, nuts, chocolate, and dairy. Eating large amounts of these calorie-dense foods quickly puts you over your daily recommended calorie intake.

Low calorie, low-fat foods are typically healthier for you, containing more nutrients like vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in nutrients like fiber that make you feel fuller, even with lower amounts. It is best to obtain a high ratio of nutrients to calories from the foods you eat. 

For example, with this Macro Shake, you can obtain an abundance of vital nutrients, like 23 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, and a long list of vitamins and minerals in just 270 calories.

What Is the Caloric Density of Sugar?

Sugar, a carbohydrate, has a calorie density of four calories per gram. Protein also has a density of four calories per gram, while fats provide nine calories per gram.

The daily recommended limit for sugar is about 24 grams for adult women and 36 grams for men, which is almost 100 and 150 calories, respectively. Keep in mind that this is a limit and not a recommended intake. You do not want to go above this number, but it is reasonable to have an intake below.

Unfortunately, many people consume more than this recommended intake daily, and because sugar has a high calorie density, they consume far more calories from sugars. Dietary guidelines recommend that people not obtain more than 10% of their daily calories from sugar. You should strive to take in less than this limit daily to obtain a wider variety of nutrients.

Sugar also does not provide nutrients like protein or healthy fats, making it a source of empty calories — meaning sugar provides a significant number of calories with little nutritional value.

By making sugar a significant portion of your diet, you are increasing your risk of weight gain without providing your body with any of the vitamins or nutrients that support the hard-working systems in your body. 

Additionally, since sugar stimulates the taste buds, it makes you crave sweet foods more, creating a vicious cycle. It can be hard to break this cycle; after a certain point, it takes a significant reset to beat the cravings and avoid the empty calories.

Worry Less About Calorie Density

Sugar does not have an excessively high calorie density, but, as an empty calorie, it provides no nutritional value and can contribute significantly to weight gain. Since sugar has no nutritional value with such high calorie density, you do not need sugar in your diet, but it can be hard to beat those cravings. Fortunately, with the right coping mechanisms, you can minimize added sugars from sources like processed foods and focus instead on healthy eating.

At Sweetkick, we want to help you avoid worrying about sugar’s calorie density by helping you transition away from habits that make sugar a significant part of your diet. We are in this together! This is the inspiration behind our craving-killing products. 

Our collection of products has plenty of excellent additions to your toolbelt in the battle against sugar, including our Sugar Control Tablets that proactively combat cravings, our Herbal Balance Tea that gives you an energy boost, and our Clusters that make a great nutrient-rich snack. 



Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories | Mayo Clinic

Added Sugar | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

The Calorie Density of Foods - Exploring the Facts & Science | American Institute for Cancer Research