How many calories are in a piece of chocolate cake? What about the calories and sugar in carrot cake with cream cheese frosting? Get the scoop on how many calories are in your favorite cakes, as well as easy substitutions to make them healthier without sacrificing flavor.
Light and fluffy cakes, such as angel food cake and sponge cake, are low in calories and will satisfy your sweet tooth. For example, chocolate cake with frosting has 537 calories per serving, while angel food cake has just 72 calories.
Review a Cake Calories List
Cakes do make a birthday celebration a little sweeter, but it's important to be aware that they are high in sugar and fat. These treats should not be a regular addition to your diet. The Mayo Clinic reports that eating foods with processed sugars and unhealthy fats, such as cakes, may lead to chronic inflammation, which can cause diabetes, heart issues and strokes.
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The following calorie counts of cakes are important to know so you can keep your health goals on track. As you can see, different types of cakes have a wide range of calorie counts. Try to stick with those that are lower in calories and sugar. Pay attention to portion sizes as well.
- Yellow cake with chocolate frosting: 546 calories (1 piece or 1/12 of a cake)
- Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting: 537 calories (1 piece or 1/12 of a cake)
- Carrot cake with icing: 342 calories (1/10 of a one-layer, 8-inch diameter cake)
- Plain cheesecake: 257 calories (1 piece or 1/6 of a 17-ounce cake)
- Angel food cake: 72 calories (1 piece or 1/12 of 12-ounce cake
- Pound cake: 109 calories (1 piece or 1/12 of a 12-ounce cake)
- Cinnamon coffee cake with crumb topping: 263 calories (1 piece or 1/9 of a 20-ounce cake)
- Pineapple upside-down cake: 367 calories (1 piece or 1/9 of an 8-inch square)
- Sponge cake: 110 calories (1 piece or 1/12 of 16-ounce cake)
Check out the USDA database to determine the calorie count of more cakes, as well as cookies and other desserts. Also, read the ingredients list and avoid highly processed desserts. Preservatives, added sugar and saturated fats (listed as coconut oil or palm oil) are all unhealthy additions to your diet.
Lowest-Calorie Cake Options
It's smart to be aware of how many calories you consume, as well as the amount of fat and sugar in your favorite cake. Angel food cake is light and fluffy and will satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard, as it has only 72 calories per serving.
Sponge cake and pound cake are also great low-calorie options. If you want something with a bit more creaminess, a plain piece of low-carb cheesecake is relatively low in calories as well.
Even though most cakes are high in fats, sugar and carbs, they can provide some health benefits. For instance, the carrots in carrot cake are chock full of vitamin A and the antioxidant beta-carotene.
The University of California Berkeley reports that cooking carrots with oil (as you do in carrot cake) enhances the absorption of beta carotene. To make the cake even healthier, you can decrease the sugar in carrot cake by using sugar substitutes like stevia or applesauce to sweeten it. Add spices and vanilla for extra flavor.
Healthy Cake Substitutes
You can amp up cake nutrition while decreasing the fat and sugar through some easy substitutions when baking.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these healthy baking swaps won't greatly affect the taste or texture of your cake:
- Replace each egg with three-fourths cups of egg substitute to lower cholesterol and saturated fat.
- Swap one cup of oil with a half cup oil and a half cup unsweetened applesauce to reduce fat.
- Swap two cups of all-purpose flour with one cup all-purpose and one cup whole wheat flour or almond flour to increase the nutrition and fiber content.
- Swap out one and a half cups of sugar for three-fourths cups of sugar, which will reduce the calories without significantly affect the taste. You can also use stevia for a zero-calorie option. Bump up the amount of vanilla or other spices to make up for the lack of sweetness.
- Replace regular milk chocolate with antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
There are several options for what cooking oils you can use in a cake. However, canola oil is likely the healthiest choice as it's low in saturated fat and high in omega-6 fatty acids. A June 2014 review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that this oil may help protect against type II diabetes and heart disease due to its high content of alpha-linolenic acid, a healthy fat.
Last but not least, an easy way to save calories is to eat your cake before your meal. A June 2019 study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied has found that those who ate an indulgent dish first consumed fewer calories than those who had an indulgent dish for dessert. As the researchers note, if you eat a healthy meal first, then you give yourself the excuse to overindulge later.
- University of California Berkeley: "Carrots: A Beta Carotene Wonder"
- Mayo Clinic: "Healthy Baking Ingredient Swaps"
- Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied: "If I Indulge First, I Will Eat Less Overall: The Unexpected Interaction Effect of Indulgence and Presentation Order on Consumption"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Health Benefits of Plant-Derived A-Linolenic Acid"
- USDA: "Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting"
- USDA: "Chocolate Cake With Chocolate Frosting"
- USDA: "Carrot Cake With Icing"
- USDA: "Commercially Prepared Cheesecake"
- USDA: "Commercially Prepared Angel Food Cake"
- USDA: "Pound Cake Commercially Prepared"
- USDA: "Cinnamon Coffeecake"
- USDA: "Up-Side Down Pineapple Cake"
- USDA: "Sponge Cake Commercially Prepared"
- Mayo Clinic: "How to Use Food to Help Your Body Fight Off Inflammation"
- USDA: MyFoodData: "Homepage"