Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or simply maintain your weight, you’re probably somewhat aware of the number of calories in different foods and drinks.
There are several different types of flour for cooking and baking, so it makes sense that the calorie levels of different flours can vary quite a bit! Which flour you choose might be partially impacted by its calorie level, among other features.
The lowest-calorie flours are:
- Okara flour (70 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Lupin flour (84 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Chestnut flour (100 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Einkorn flour (100 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Fava bean flour (100 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Apple flour (100 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Instant flour (100 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Quinoa flour (100 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Sprouted flour (100 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Tipo 00 flour (100 grams per 1/4 cup)
The highest-calorie flours are:
- Sunflower seed flour (180 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Pecan flour (160 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Bulgur wheat flour (160 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Cashew flour (160 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Banana flour (160 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Rice flour (150 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Millet flour (150 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Potato flour (160 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Semolina flour (160 calories per 1/4 cup)
- Almond flour (170 calories per 1/4 cup)
Calories – why do they matter?
Calories are a unit of measurement of energy in food and drinks. Your body needs calories for basic survival, and calorie needs increase with things like exercise, illness, and periods of growth.
When it comes to weight management (gaining, losing, or maintaining your weight), calories are often one of the first things to consider. If your body burns more calories than you consume, then weight loss occurs. The opposite is true for weight gain, which happens when you consume more calories than you burn for energy.
Depending on your health and nutrition needs, you might be looking for higher-calorie foods to promote weight gain or lower-calorie foods to support weight loss.
What impacts the calorie level of flour?
Calories come from three of the main nutrients (macronutrients) – carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates and protein provide four calories per gram, while fat provides over twice as many calories with nine calories per gram.
That means that flour with a lot of fat is likely to be much higher in calories than lower-fat flour. High-carbohydrate and high-protein flour might also be higher in calories compared to low-protein or lower-carb flour.
11 lowest calorie flours
The lowest calorie flours on this list are 100 calories or fewer per ¼ cup portion. Compared to all-purpose (white) flour with 110 calories per ¼ cup, you’ll notice these aren’t super low-calorie, but slightly lower than standard white flour and much lower than the flours in the higher-calorie list.
- Okara flour – 70 calories per ¼ cup
Okara flour is made from soybean pulp – it’s rich in protein, gluten-free, low in carbs, and of course very low-calorie. It’s frequently called one of Japan’s “superfoods.”
Okara flour is a little coarser and grainier than all-purpose, but once baked it’s a similar texture, although it’s a bit more absorbent so the bakes will naturally come out a little denser. It’s great for bread, cookies, muffins, and dense biscuits.
- Lupin flour – 84 calories per ¼ cup
If you’re not familiar with lupin flour, you’re not alone – it’s just starting to gain a lot of traction in the Keto community as a low-carb (and gluten-free) alternative to traditional all-purpose flour. It’s made from lupin beans, a legume common to Latin America and the Mediterranean.
You’ll find that lupin flour works well as the base for a breading, as well as for pancakes, muffins, bread, and waffles.
- Einkorn flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Made from ancient wheat that hasn’t been bred with other types of wheat, einkorn flour is lower in gluten than traditional wheat-based flour. Just because it’s lower in gluten doesn’t make it suitable for gluten-free dieters, nor does it mean that it’s low-carb.
- Fava bean flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Fava bean flour is made from fava beans, also called broad beans. This flour is higher in protein compared to many (8 grams of protein per ¼ cup) and is gluten-free. You can use fava bean flour in cooking or baking, but fava bean flour is considered raw and shouldn’t be used in no-bake recipes.
- Apple flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Like banana flour, apple flour (or apple powder) is lower in calories than traditional wheat flour and is made from dried and ground apples. It isn’t meant to be used as a standalone flour but is used to add flavor and nutrition to dishes like oatmeal and be added to other flours in recipes for muffins and other baked goods.
- Chestnut flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
As you can probably guess, chestnut flour is made from chestnuts that have been ground up into a fine powder. Chestnut flour is great because it’s high in fiber and gluten-free, plus it has a low glycemic index, so it’s suitable for folks who are monitoring their blood sugar.
Now, because it’s gluten-free, chestnut flour may need extra binders (think: Eggs) to hold your bake together – but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s fantastic both for sweet and savory recipes – it’s great for pancakes, muffins, pasta, polenta, or as breadcrumbs for fish or chicken.
- Soy flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Made from ground-up soybeans, soy flour is rich in protein and lower in carbs than traditional wheat flour. You can substitute some of the wheat flour in recipes with soy flour, but it might take some experimenting since soy flour acts differently than wheat flour in baking (as do many non-wheat flours!).
- Instant flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Instant flour is designed to dissolve quickly in liquids (so it can rapidly thicken sauces) and create a truly smooth, uniform texture in baking. No clumps with instant flour! It’s made from the same stuff as regular flour (raw grains), but it’s extra-processed – more specifically, it goes through a process called “pre-gelatinization” which cooks or pre-activates the flour.
Because of this, the flour works faster than regular all-purpose – meaning you save both baking time in the oven AND resting time when making pancakes or waffles.
- Quinoa flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Chances are good you’ve heard of quinoa – the ancient grain that seems to appear in every healthy grain bowl – but quinoa flour is a different ballgame. It’s made from grinding quinoa seeds into a fine powder which is light and fluffy, with a hint of nuttiness.
Quinoa is a great gluten-free flour (and of course low-calorie as well), and it pairs well with fruits, nuts, and spices, and it’s great for savory recipes like tortillas and flatbreads.
- Sprouted flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Sprouted flour is a lot like all-purpose flour, with one key difference: The grains have been allowed to sprout (or germinate) before they were ground into flour.
This process breaks down some of the proteins in the grain, boosting its nutritional content and making it easier to digest. (And, as you can see, also making for a lower-calorie bake as well.)
Sprouted flour usually yields a denser and moister bake than all-purpose flour, and it has less gluten too – so if you’re depending on gluten for structure (think – pizza dough and fluffy breads), better to stick with all-purpose. But anything else? Sprouted is a great alternative.
- Tipo 00 flour – 100 calories per ¼ cup
Tipo 00 flour is also known as Italian double zero – it’s flour that’s really tailor-made for pizza and pasta dough. It’s especially finely milled, and in fact it’s the most refined of all Italian flours. Like many of these other low-calorie flours, Tipo 00 has low gluten content – but Tipo 00 specifically comes out elastic instead of dense and moist. That’s a huge advantage for delicious pizzas and pastas! (As long as you buy good-quality Tipo 00 flour, of course.)
5 high-calorie flours
- Sunflower seed flour – 180 calories per ¼ cup
Sunflower seed flour is made by grinding sunflower seeds into a fine powder. It’s the highest-calorie flour we’ve seen, mostly because it’s so nutrient-dense! Lots of protein (6g) and fat (16g), very few carbs (so it’s Keto-friendly), sunflower seed is pretty much tailor-made for the Keto diet. In my experience, sunflower seed flour is fantastic for baked goods, breading for fish or chicken, and sesame seed crackers.
- Almond flour – 170 calories per ¼ cup
Nuts and seeds are naturally high in fat, so it’s no surprise that almond flour is high in calories thanks to its higher fat content (15 grams per ¼ cup). Almond flour is also a great low-carb option and is rich in fiber, making its net carbohydrate content very low.
- Banana flour – 160 calories per ¼ cup
Banana flour is usually made from higher-starch green bananas, which are less ripe and lower in sugar than ripe yellow bananas.
Because it’s made from fruit and not any type of grain, banana flour is suitable for paleo dieters and is naturally gluten-free. The calories in banana flour are primarily from carbohydrates, so it’s not suitable for very low-carb or keto diets.
- Semolina flour – 160 calories per ¼ cup
Made from hard wheat (high in gluten and higher in protein), semolina flour is a great choice for making couscous and pasta. Semolina flour is higher in carbs than white flour (33 grams in ¼ cup), which is one of the reasons it’s higher in total calories.
- Potato flour – 160 calories per ¼ cup
Potatoes are a starchy vegetable, and more starch = more carbs = more calories. Potato flour is a popular gluten-free alternative, but it isn’t low-carb with 38 grams per ¼ cup!
- Pecan flour – 160 calories per ¼ cup
Pecan flour’s calories come mostly from healthy fats and protein instead of carbs, so if you’re looking for a low-carb flour that’s very filling (and also gluten-free)…this may be the one. (Pecan flour is also surprisingly easy to make at home.)
Pecan flour is good for pretty much any baked good you’d put pecans in – pancakes, waffles, muffins, brownies, pie crusts, oatmeal topping (yum), cakes, cookies, and bread. It’s quite versatile!
- Cashew flour – 160 calories per ¼ cup
Just like pecan flour, cashew flour is made by grinding cashews into a fine powder. And just like pecan flour, once again you have a delicious, versatile, high-fat, high-protein, low-carb flour that’s super versatile.
- Bulgur wheat flour – 160 calories per ¼ cup
Bulgur wheat flour is a reversion to the “lots of calories from carbs” (a lot of which is fiber!) style of flour because it’s made from cracked bulgur wheat. It provides lots of structure and texture to crackers, muffins, and breads.
- Millet flour – 150 calories per ¼ cup
A popular choice among gluten-free bakers and chefs, millet flour is a good option for gluten-free baking because it yields a delicate crumb for cookies and cakes.
- Rice flour – 150 calories per ¼ cup
Like potato flour, rice flour is high in starch which makes it a higher-calorie flour. Regular rice flour is made from white rice, while brown rice flour made from brown rice has a similar calorie content.
Use rice flour for gluten-free uses like making noodles, pastries, cakes, and thickening sauces and soups.
Nutritional comparison of high- and low-calorie flours
|All-purpose flour (for comparison)||110||23 g||1 g||0 g||4 g|
|Okara flour||70||12 g||10 g||1 g||3.5 g|
|Lupin flour||84||11 g||9 g||1.5 g||10 g|
|Chestnut flour||100||22 g||3 g||1 g||2 g|
|Einkorn flour||100||20 g||2 g||0.5 g||4 g|
|Fava bean flour||100||18 g||8 g||0 g||8 g|
|Instant flour||100||22 g||<1 g||0 g||3 g|
|Quinoa flour||100||19 g||3 g||1 g||4 g|
|Sprouted flour||100||20 g||3 g||1 g||4 g|
|Apple flour||100||20 g||4 g||1 g||0 g|
|Soy flour||100||10 g||5 g||0 g||15 g|
|Tipo 00 flour||100||21 g||<1 g||0.5||3 g|
|Rice flour||150||34 g||0 g||0 g||2 g|
|Millet flour||150||31 g||1 g||2 g||4 g|
|Pecan flour||160||3 g||3 g||16 g||3 g|
|Cashew flour||160||10 g||0 g||14 g||6 g|
|Bulgur wheat flour||160||35 g||5 g||0.5 g||4 g|
|Banana flour||160||40 g||<1 g||0 g||1 g|
|Potato flour||160||38 g||3 g||0 g||3 g|
|Semolina flour||160||33 g||1 g||1 g||6 g|
|Almond flour||170||5 g||3 g||15 g||6 g|
|Sunflower seed flour|