Virtually anything that contains flour seems to be unhealthy, or at the very least contains a ton of calories! So, what better way to cut down on some than by looking at low-calorie flours?
But, what is low-calorie flour, and which are the best? Low-calorie flours contain lower amounts of calories, but not necessarily nutrients. You can have something like whole wheat flour that is extremely nutritious and very low in calories. You also get gluten-free grain flours like oat flour, quinoa flour, and sorghum flour that are all relatively low in calories and highly nutritious.
In this article, we will discuss exactly what makes a flour “low-calorie” and look at some of the best options to choose from.
But, we will also weigh low-calorie vs. nutrient density to see when it is really worth the sacrifice. Finally, we have assembled a list of our favorite low-calorie flours that can easily be bought online!
What Is Low-Calorie Flour?
So, this may sound like a pretty redundant question. Obviously, low-calorie flour is flour that is low in calories. But, the answer is actually much more complex than that!
Many people automatically believe that healthy flour also is low in calories. This isn’t true and you get many flours, like almond flour, for example, that has an extremely high-calorie count, but still is one of the healthiest flours out there.
Almond flour contains roughly 600 calories per 100 grams—considerably more than most flours!
But, with the high-calorie count comes a ton of other benefits. Almond flour is gluten-free, extremely rich in antioxidants, vitamins (especially vitamin E), and minerals (like magnesium).
It even has a good amount of fiber! So, as you can see, the high-calorie content doesn’t make it unhealthy.
What Affects The Calorie Count In Flours (And Flour Alternatives)?
Calories mainly come from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Let’s use almond flour as an example again. Almonds are naturally high in fats. This high-fat content is what gives almond flour its extremely high-calorie count.
Now, let’s look at grain flour like wheat flour. The wheat grain consists of 3 parts: the bran, the germ, and the endosperm.
The bran part of grain contains mainly fiber. The germ contains a bunch of vitamins, fats, and proteins. The endosperm contains starches and proteins.
So, when looking at white flour, only the endosperm is used. For brown flour, the endosperm is used with some germ and bran included. For whole wheat flour, all three elements are used, giving a very nutrient flour.
So, naturally, the more elements are included, the more calories there will be.
Low-calorie flours can be divided into 3 main categories: gluten-containing grain flours, gluten-free grain flours, and grain-free flours (flour alternatives).
We also feel that it is important to mention that “low-calorie” is a relative term and depends on your specific dietary requirements. Always consult your dietician or doctor before making drastic changes to your diet.
The calorie counts we have provided are also average numbers. Each product varies and so will its calorie count. For your specific flour, check the nutritional information on the back for the precise calorie count per serving.
Low-Calorie Grain Flours (Gluten-Containing)
Grain-based flours are all produced from different types of grains. Wheat is the most well-known, used, and common grain available for flour-making.
Wheat is used to produce whole-wheat flour, cake flour, bread flour, and all-purpose flour to name a few.
Other grains that contain gluten include spelt, emmer, einkorn, barley, rye, Khorasan, and triticale. Some of these are more commercial than others.
When looking at low-calorie gluten-containing grain flours, your best options are whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour.
Whole wheat flour contains only 340 calories per 100 grams. It is considered to be a strong flour and contains quite a lot of gluten—perfect for making bread and dough that requires a lot of flexibility.
Whole wheat flour also has a very high protein content, contains a ton of fiber, and has many minerals and vitamins. It is easy to find, easy to use, and extremely versatile—you can use it in virtually any flour-containing recipe.
All-purpose flour is another great option that can work for pastries (items that don’t need a lot of gluten) and dough (that does need gluten). It only contains roughly 364 calories per 100 grams.
There are other relatively low-calorie grain flours including barley and spelt flour. But, again, check your specific product to determine the exact calorie count per serving.
Low-Calorie Grain Flours (Gluten-Free)
Gluten is a type of naturally occurring protein that is only found in some grains. Popular grains that are completely gluten-free include oats, quinoa, millet, brown rice, corn, and sorghum.
Most gluten-free grain flours are relatively low in calories (because of the lack of proteins). When choosing one you can look at the other health benefits that flour offers to make your decision.
Quinoa flour is generally the lowest calorie-containing gluten-free grain flour. It is a great source of complete proteins, contains all of your essential amino acids, and is incredibly easy to find. You can even make it at home if you’d like!
Some people don’t like the bitterness that quinoa flour has, but you can remove it (or at least make it less intense) by toasting it inside of the oven for a few minutes.
Brown rice flour is also gluten-free, low in calories, and has a great fiber content! Oat flour is another personal favorite of ours and adds a delicious nutty flavor to baked goods. It is also very versatile and contains lots of protein and healthy fats.
Grain-free flours are generally used as alternatives for gluten-containing flours. None of these fit into a specific category of ingredients (like grains) and can be made from nuts, seeds, tubers, and legumes.
They are generally higher in calories (this again, is depending on what your definition of “high” is according to your body’s needs) because they generally contain more fats.
However, simultaneously they can be extremely healthy and has loads of benefits.
We have already discussed how almond flour has a very high-calorie count but is one of the healthier flours you can find because of the nutrients it contains.
Coconut flour is much lower in calories and also contains a ton of nutrients. It is generally less versatile than coconut flour because of its taste, but can still be used as a substitute.
Choosing a low-calorie flour is actually very easy and there are only a few factors you have to take into consideration.
Gluten-Containing Or Gluten-Free
This should be the first factor to look at. There is no point in choosing the perfect flour (that contains gluten) if you cannot have gluten.
For gluten-free flour options, you can choose either grain-free flour or gluten-free grain flour. For gluten-free grain-based flour, you can choose any flour made from oats, quinoa, millet, brown rice, corn, and sorghum.
For grain-free flour alternatives, you have a very wide range of options, but sometimes it can be difficult to find the exact product you are looking for.
As an example, coconut flour and almond flour are pretty easy to find, however, peanut flour may be more difficult (and expensive).
Hard-Flour Or Soft-Flour
This only really applies to products that require a lot of gluten, like bread dough or pasta dough. These products need flour with high amounts of gluten proteins.
When gluten is worked, the protein strands become elastic and create an open crumb that is favorable for these products.
Whole wheat flour and bread flour contains high amounts of gluten. Whole wheat contains about 13-14%, and bread flour contains between 12-13%.
Soft flours, like pastry flour and cake flour only contain about 8-10% of gluten. All-purpose flour is made from a combination of hard and soft flour and can have a gluten content between 10-12%.
Naturally, if you don’t need gluten, you don’t need gluten-containing flour and you have a ton of options available to you.
Still consider what you want the final outcome of your product to be as some flours (like almond flour) can affect the texture and flavor.
Type Of Flour
Obviously, you are taking this into consideration.
But, you should specifically think about the flavor the flour will add to your baked product and how the texture (and other characteristics) will affect the final structure of the product.
For example, a very fine flour might create a much denser product when you are using it instead of almond flour (in macarons for example).
And last, but certainly not least, the calorie count. Now, again, and we cannot emphasize this enough, “low-calorie” means different things to different people.
You should consider your own diet and calorie needs before making drastic changes.
If you are just looking for a healthier flour, then rather look at the benefits of these flours instead of their calorie count.
The 9 Best Low-Calorie Flours
Below, we have assembled a list of some of our favorite low-calorie flours that can all be conveniently found online!
|1.||Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour||Best overall low-calorie flour|
|2.||Whole Foods Market 100% Organic Whole Wheat Flour||Made from organically grown dark northern spring grains|
|3.||Food to Live Organic Stone-Ground Barley Flour||Made from 100% organic, non-GMO raw barley|
|4.||Tru-Nut Peanut Flour||Doesn't contain any added sugars|
|5.||Big Green Organic Food Sorghum Flour||100% vegan|
|6.||Healthworks Organic Unrefined Coconut Flour||Keto-friendly|
|7.||VitaSpelt Organic Unbleached Spelt Flour||100% organic|
|8.||Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour||Nut-free|
|9.||Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa Flour||Earthy and nutty flavor|
1. Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour
We thought it would be best if we started with an easy-to-find, very affordable, and perfect all-rounder flour like this one.
All-purpose flour has a blend of soft and hard flour, giving it a gluten content that will allow it to make virtually any product, from bread to cake!
All-purpose flour is gluten-containing wheat flour.
Usually, these flours don’t contain many nutrients, however, this is a bleached flour that has been enriched.
Basically, it will still give you a pale color, but has a little more than usual.
And in terms of calorie count, this flour contains about 333 calories per 100 grams.
2. Whole Foods Market 100% Organic Whole Wheat Flour
This whole wheat flour is made from organically grown (and non-GMO) dark northern spring grains.
This specific variety also adds a slightly nutty flavor to your products that are quite delicious.
This flour contains roughly 366 calories per 100 grams.
Being whole wheat, it is naturally extremely high in gluten, so it will work great best for dough that needs a lot of elasticity!
Whole wheat flour is incredibly nutritious and contains loads of healthy proteins, fibers, vitamins, and minerals.
3. Food to Live Organic Stone-Ground Barley Flour
This is a very impressive low-calorie flour that only contains 327 calories per 100 grams.
It is made from 100% organic, non-GMO raw barley that is completely vegan.
This barley flour contains loads of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and is high in fiber and an excellent source of vegetarian protein.
Barley is still a gluten-containing grain, however, it only contains between 5-8% gluten, lower than soft wheat flour.
So, if you are only a bit sensitive to gluten, you might be able to handle barley flour.
The low gluten content also means that it works best with tight-crumbed items like cakes, muffins, dense bread, and pancakes (or flapjacks).
4. Tru-Nut Peanut Flour
This is our first gluten-free and grain-free flour that is to die for!
This roasted peanut flour from Tru-Nut is completely vegan, isn’t made from any GMO ingredients, and doesn’t contain any added sugars! It’s all-natural!
But, unfortunately, as we have mentioned before, peanut flour is quite high in calories compared to most grain flour.
This specific product is very high in protein so has more calories compared to processed peanut flours. It contains about 521 calories per 100 grams.
It is still a great gluten-free alternative that is especially great in muffins and cookies!
5. Big Green Organic Food Sorghum Flour
Sorghum is a completely gluten-free grain.
This product is made from completely organic and GMO-free sorghum and is also completely vegan.
This flour contains 366 calories per 100 grams and is perfect for making scones, cupcakes, cookies, and any other product that doesn’t need gluten.
It can also be used for bread, but just keep in mind that it will be quite dense.
6. Healthworks Organic Unrefined Coconut Flour
Coconut flour has taken the world by storm and the baking possibilities are endless!
This product specifically is made from unrefined raw organic coconut and is 100% vegan and keto-friendly.
Coconut flour is also a grain-free product and doesn’t contain any gluten.
It only contains 437 calories per 100 grams and is great to make macarons, pastry dough, and cupcakes.
Just keep in mind that it does add a coconut flavor to your baked goods, but you can mask it a bit with other extracts.
7. VitaSpelt Organic Unbleached Spelt Flour
This spelt flour from VitaSpelt blew our socks off! This is an organic and non-GMO product made from spelt grains.
While spelt does contain gluten, it is in relatively low amounts (Celiacs should still avoid it completely).
This spelt flour is white but hasn’t been bleached, leaving it with all of its nutrients.
This product only contains 366 calories per 100 grams of flour.
It can be used to make any pastry or baked good that doesn’t need a lot of gluten.
8. Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour
This cassava flour is made from non-GMO Yuca root and is the perfect gluten-free, grain-free, and nut-free alternative.
It can be used in pasta, cakes, bread, and loads more!
And, for a grain-free alternative, it has a shockingly low amount of calories: only 343 calories per 100 grams!
You can substitute 1 cup of regular all-purpose flour with ¾ cup of Otto’s Cassava flour.
9. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa Flour
To send us off with a bang, we chose this organic whole grain quinoa flour from Bob’s Red Mill.
This low-calorie gluten-free grain flour contains 357 calories per 100 grams.
Quinoa flour does have an earthy and nutty flavor to it that some may not like.
However, you can lightly toast it to make it less prominent or pair it with spices like cinnamon and coriander, herbs like rosemary, and fruits or even other nuts.
It works great for making crackers, muffins, and various flatbreads.