Best Foods to Eat That are Low in Calories – Eating to Lose Weight

A low-calorie diet is the most important part of any weight loss program. Your body won’t burn fat unless there’s a shortfall of calories. It’s the only way.

Low calorie diets for losing weight

Exercise helps to create the necessary energy shortage, but it works best when used in addition to a low-calorie diet.

In fact, it’s possible to successfully lose weight just by making the necessary dietary changes. Many people with mobility issues or other health problems have to lose weight this way.

Obviously, knowing which foods are low in calories helps ensure the best results. However, eating to lose weight is not solely about getting the calorie equation right. The foods you choose need to provide the body with all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other nutrients it needs.

Before modifying your eating habits in an effort to lose weight it’s a good idea to visit the NHS website and take a look at The Eat Well Guide it provides. It’s an excellent resource to use when planning a weight loss meal plan.

Dietary Restrictions are Hurdles, Not Stop Signs

Certain options, such as meat and fish, are not suitable for vegetarians, and vegans face even greater restrictions. However, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly ways to create a diet that is low in calories and high in nutrition.

In fact, many vegans have diets that are nutritionally superior to those of meat eaters.

Living the vegan way may make it more difficult to get enough protein, Vitamin B12, and certain other nutrients. However, you’re unlikely to encounter a vegan who does not eat the recommended five pieces of fruit and vegetable per day.

Some people are lactose intolerant or cannot eat foods that contain gluten. There are many food allergies that necessitate avoiding certain foods. It’s possible to work around all these restrictions and come up with an effective weight loss plan.

So, when you are eating to lose weight, which low-calorie foods are best?  There is no “best” because what’s best for one person may be totally unsuitable for another. However, there are many very good options.

Eating to Lose Weight: 10 Good Food Options

1. Oats

Oats are high in fiber, carbohydrate, and protein. They are also low in calories and fat. Oats are such a healthy option they deserve at the top of any list of low-calorie foods to eat to lose weight.

Furthermore, oats don’t contain gluten, and vegans can prepare oatmeal with water instead of cow’s milk. Oats are suitable for most people.

Apart from being a nutritionally sound addition to any low-calorie diet, oats are very filling. This is due to the high fiber content. In some instances, oats have been shown to suppress hunger for up to four hours.

Some people don’t relish the taste of oatmeal, but adding some vanilla or ginger can be a good way to improve the flavor. As can making the oatmeal with coconut, cashew or almond milk, but it’s best to avoid adding sugar.

Making oatmeal with hemp milk can be a particularly good option for vegans and vegetarians. It provides Omega-3 fatty acids. Many people get Omega-3s from fish and vegetarians cannot.

Blueberry smoothie

2. Blueberries

Blueberries are another good option. A single cup (148 g) only provides 85 calories and 0.5 g of fat. It also provides 3.6 g of dietary fibers, along with 24% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is sometimes used as a natural remedy for the common cold. There is no proof Vitamin has this ability, but it’s certainly good for boosting the immune system.

In fact, Vitamin C is so good for the body some experts suggest taking up to 500 mg per day on top of the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.

Blueberries are a good source of antioxidants as well. These also have an important role to play in good health. They help purge the body of toxins and fight the oxidative stress that can cause premature aging.

A handful of blueberries makes a great nutritious snack and you can even mix a few into your bowl of oatmeal.

3. Spinach

It’s green, nutritious, and carries the longstanding endorsement of Popeye the Sailor. Spinach is also very low in calories and great for increasing your immunity.

So, if you are eating to lose weight, why not take a (spinach) leaf out of Popeye’s book. You may be very glad you did.

A 100 g serving of spinach only provides 23 calories. It also delivers 2.9 g of protein, and 3.g of carbs. Most of the carbs in spinach consist of fiber, so it’s a good stomach filler.

Spinach is also rich in thylakoids that suppress the activity of the lipase digestive enzyme, thereby delaying fat digestion.

By causing this delay, spinach can cause hormonal changes that further reduce appetite. That’s why spinach extract supplements are becoming increasingly popular.

This leafy wonder of nature provides several important nutrients including Vitamins A, C, and K, calcium and folic acid.

Additionally, Spinach contains a number of valuable plant compounds including lutin and zeaxanthin, both of which improve eye health.

4. Cod

Cod is not going to be an acceptable option for vegans or vegetarians, or anyone who is allergic to seafood.

However, for pescatarians and everyone else, cod is an excellent food that’s low in calories and fat yet high in protein.

A typical cod fillet (231 g) provides 41g of protein. It also contains 35% of the RDA for Vitamin B12, 30% for Vitamin B6, and 20% for Vitamin D.

As for the calories, there’s only 189 along with a meager 1.5 g of fat.

Like fiber, protein is a good hunger suppressing nutrient and some research suggests fish protein may be more satiating than meat proteins such as beef and chicken.

The best way to prepare cod is to poach it in water. This avoids adding any extra calories. The other alternative is to bake the cod using olive oil, coconut oil, or a similarly healthy oil.

5. Apples

Apples are low in calories

Apples contain a lot of water and have a low calorie density. One apple of medium size is generally 85% water.

Fruits, vegetables, and other foods that contain a lot of water are good for filling the stomach and satisfying the appetite.

The term “energy density” refers to the number of calories present in food compared to its weight.

Water does carry any calories, but it does add extra weight to food. A standard medium-size apple only provides 95 calories, but the amount of water present bulks it out.

It’s not just about the water content though. Apples are also a good source of fiber, which further assuages appetite.

There’s another thing that makes apples such a good option when you’re eating to lose weight—they are nutrient dense.

Apples contain many important vitamins and minerals. Most notably, Vitamin C and potassium.

The low glycemic index of apples is another bonus. It means they are less likely to cause the blood sugar to spike.

Research suggests eating low-glycemic foods can prevent certain health issues. Will eating an apple a day help keep the doctor away? There are no guarantees. However, it could be a good way to keep hunger out of the picture—for a while, anyway.

6. Watermelon

Like apples, watermelons have a low calorie density. So, eating a portion of watermelon is a good way to fill your stomach without going overboard on calories.

One wedge of watermelon (286 g) only provides 87 calories and there’s zero fat.

Watermelon is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Vitamin A helps provide healthy-looking skin and, like Vitamin C, it boosts immune function. Both nutrients also share a similar reputation as anti-aging vitamins.

If your weight loss program includes exercise, watermelons may be an extra good addition to your diet.

The water-laden, pink flesh of the fruit is a good source of citrulline. This amino is very good for preventing muscle soreness.

Interestingly, fresh watermelon appears to be better at preventing muscle soreness than citrulline supplements.

In one study, some athletes were given plain watermelon juice. Others got watermelon juice laced with extra citrulline. The rest received a liquid-form citrulline supplement. Both watermelon drinks outperformed the supplement.

7. Popcorn

Popcorn doesn’t sound like the kind of food you should be eating if you want to lose weight, does it? However, not all popcorn is created equal.

The kind that’s covered in toffee is not low in calories, so it one of the foods you should avoid. The same can be said for butter popcorn or any of the other more flavorsome varieties. Plain popcorn is a different matter.

Thanks to its high fiber content, popcorn makes a very good low-calorie snack.

This movie night favorite also has good stomach-filling abilities. An 8 g cup of plain air-popped popcorn only contains 31 calories, along with 1.2 g of dietary fiber. To put things into better perspective, 1.2 g is around 5% of the RDA.

When it comes to quelling hunger, no other snack can compete with popcorn.

The thing to remember is, not all popcorn is air-popped popcorn. The other types have unhealthy fats and other additions you do not want; so always be sure you know which type you are buying.

8. Kale

Kale is a food you may want to consider eating more often if you are trying to lose weight. It’s an excellent addition to any calorie-controlled diet.

A 100 g serving of kale provides just 49 calories and 0.9g of fat. It’s also amazingly high in Vitamin C and Vitamin A. That single 100 g serving of kale provides twice the RDA of Vitamin C and almost does the same for Vitamin A (199% RDA).

Kale is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and Vitamin B6. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world.

In addition to being nutrient-dense, kale is loaded with antioxidants. It’s a super addition to any healthy weight loss diet.

Lose weight naturally with Chia seeds

9. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds offer high levels of protein and fiber in combination with an acceptable calorie load. A 28 g serving provides 10.6 g of fiber, 4.4 g of protein and 137 calories.

Obviously, 137 g is a lot more energy than the other foods on this list provide. However, nobody is going to eat large quantities of chia seeds.

They’re best used by the teaspoon and added to smoothies, juices, or soups. You can even sprinkle them over oatmeal.

Chia seeds are extremely absorbent. Some studies suggest they can absorb up to 12 times their own weight in water. This allows them to swell in the stomach and provide a feeling of satiety.

Some research suggests chia seeds may also quell desires for sugary food.

10. Celery

Celery has always been a popular food with people who are trying to lose weight. That’s not surprising. This simmer’s favorite only provides 16.1 calories per 100 g.

These green stick of natural goodness have a longstanding reputation as a negative calorie food. Unfortunately, this is a myth.

Negative calorie foods are foods that are so low in calories the body expends more energy digesting them than it receives from them.

In order to create this kind of negative energy balance, celery would need to have a thermic effect of 100% or more. In actual fact, the thermic effect of celery is only 8%.

So, eating celery won’t work miracles, but it is still very low in calories. It’s also a good source of fiber that fills the stomach and helps keep hunger away.

You can add celery to soups and stews or crunch on it raw. However, if you are going to eat it raw, avoid the temptation to coat it in mayonnaise. That’s anything but a low-calorie food and has no place is any structured weight loss diet.

About Tony Jay

Tony Jay (CEO of AGJ Media, CPD certified in Diet and Nutrition) Tony is a fitness enthusiast, writer, and entrepreneur. He’s been active in the health and wellness industry since 2007 and firmly believes correct nutrition is the key to good health. A workaholic by nature, Tony uses power yoga to keep his mind sharp, maintain physical subtlety, and keep fit. LinkedIn

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