Nutrient density is the relationship between the amount of nutrients in food and the total calorie content in food. So a food with a high nutrient density would have a high amount of nutrients such as Protein, iron, B vitamins etc per 100 calories of food (a relatively low amount of calories). If you’re wanting a lean physique or you are currently dieting it is essential to select foods that have a high nutrient density like Spinach to supply you with essential vitamins and minerals.
Foods with a low nutrient density include – sugar, soft drinks, ice cream, white flour etc.
What is calorie density?
Calorie density is the amount of calories compared to the weight of food. So a high calorie density would be food that is high in calories per 100g and a low calorie density is food that is low in calories per 100g. Foods that are high in fibre and water do tend to have a low calorie density where as foods that have less water or are high in fat tend to have a high calorie density. High caloric foods include – bacon, butter, biscuits etc and low caloric foods include – fresh vegetables, chicken etc.
Should I be bothered about nutrient density?
It depends if you want to have a healthy balanced diet and I’m guessing you do! To improve health and promote fat loss then you need to aim for a diet that is high in nutrient dense foods and low in calorie dense foods. If you’re wanting that cover model physique it is even more essential especially when you’re in a cutting phase.
On the other hand if you are looking to gain weight (muscle) then it would be wise to select foods that are high nutrient dense and high calorie dense. This would ensure an increase in nutrients and calories to aid weight gain and increase lean mass.