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Is Food Density the Missing Link in Your Calorie Count?

Why Most Calorie Counting Apps Get it Wrong

Here at GrubBase, we try to work both smarter and harder so you don’t have to do either. Every once in a while, though, we like to pull back the curtain and show our users what’s going on behind the scenes.

If you’ve read our blog post, Serving Sizes Anyway You Want Them with GrubBase, you know that unlike many Calorie Counting apps, GrubBase allows users to convert serving sizes to any unit of measurement their heart desires. Grams, ounces, cups, tablespoons — if you can name it, we’ve got it. Why is GrubBase able to do this when other apps aren’t?

To answer this question, we first need to crack open our old science textbooks. As regards to food, there are two different categories of measurement: mass-based units (grams, ounces, etc.) and volume-based units (cups, tablespoons, etc.).

Converting between units within the same category is easy. 1 ounce will always convert to 28.3 grams. 1 cup will always convert to 15 tablespoons. However, when converting a mass-based unit to a volume-based unit, we need to factor in density.

1 cup of a higher density food is going to weigh a lot more than 1 cup of a lower density food. That’s why 1 cup of fresh basil weighs only 24 grams, while 1 cup of corn syrup weighs 352 grams.

1 cup of Basil weighs significantly less (and has fewer calories) than 1 cup of corn syrup.

GrubBase delivers where other apps fail because our proprietary database tracks density for thousands of different foods, enabling you to convert volume-based measurements to mass-based measurements, and vice versa.

As we started tracking density, though, we realized that we needed to take things a step further. Measuring 1 cup of certain foods, like rice or oatmeal, is straightforward enough. We’re able to use the pure density of these foods for our volume to mass unit conversions.

However, consider a banana. It’s not possible to measure 1 cup of banana without altering the banana in some way. Bananas are free spirits and they just don’t like conforming to the boundaries of a measuring cup without a little pressure.

To fit a banana into 1 cup, you’ll have to either slice it or mash it. Though both preparations result in 1 cup of banana, the densities (and therefore the mass and calories) between the two outcomes are very different. To give you greater control over food densities, GrubBase created “Density Modifiers”.

As can be seen above, when no density modifier is provided, GrubBase uses the density of a sliced banana. However, to change this:

  • Click the Options Menu in the Nutrition Facts serving size section.
  • Click “Add a Density Modifier”.
  • A new dropdown selector will appear, with the Density Modifiers available for the food (in this case, sliced and mashed).
  • Select your desired Density Modifier to see how the altered density affects the overall weight and nutrient content of your food

GrubBase’s ability to track density and density modifiers give you greater control when tracking your food and planning your meals.

As an example of Density Modifiers in action and to see how Density Modifiers come together with GrubBase’s other proprietary technology., check out our Recipe Parser. Here’s an example of my favorite banana bread via the GrubBase Recipe Parser. Only GrubBase can take a plan text recipe and provide such an accurate assessment of nutrient values:

Density Modifiers in action

If you want a Meal Planning app that understands the way food functions in the real world and your life, sign up for a free GrubBase Account today. To explore GrubBase’s other powerful features, check out our Blog.

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