Managing your overall caloric intake is a very important consideration in weight loss and weight management. The reality is , however, that we all like to eat and it can be challenging to sustain a dietary pattern that feels restrictive in the amount that we eat.
In today’s article, I will introduce specific healthy and delicious foods which are particularly low in calories ( even for healthy foods!) and may be especially helpful for those who are looking to reduce their caloric intake in a way that is not overly restrictive in terms of quantity of food consumed.
These are NOT miracle weight loss foods but rather foods that can be effectively used to alternate with higher calorie options to aid in reducing your total caloric intake, provide you the nutrients you need, and also help keep you satisfied.
Top 10 Healthy Foods for Weight Loss
1. Strawberries: As with all berries, strawberries are an exceptionally healthy and delicious option that contain only about 50 calories per cup, which is about half the calories that a cup of grapes contains. Other “per cup” fruits that are lower in calories include watermelon, honeydew and other berries.
2. Celery & Carrots: These crunchy classics are probably among the best snack options for those looking to manage their caloric intake. Carrots sometimes get a bad reputation, but you can eat 3 medium sized carrots for under 100 calories and celery can pretty much be consumed until your heart’s content! Bell peppers are also crunchy, delicious and low calorie fit here as well.
4. Peaches/Plums: Peaches are in-season and a medium peach (150 grams) has only 58 calories and is about half of the calories of a medium (118 gram) banana. Plums have even less calories per serving than peaches. Other fruit options that are lowest in calories per 1 fruit include kiwis, oranges and grapefruit.
5. Air-Popped Popcorn: No butter or sugar added, good old fashioned unprocessed popcorn. 3 cups comes out to less than 100 calories and is much better for you than chips any day of the week.
6. Chestnuts: Contain about a third of the calories, for the same weight, of almonds. So you can technically eat twice as many, by weight, and still be taking in less calories.
7. Almond Milk (enriched): If you don’t need the additional dietary protein, enriched almond milk will provide you a similar amount of vitamins/minerals for a fraction of the calories of soy or cow’s milk.
8. Red Snapper ( and white fish, herring): These fish options contain about 50% less calories per 75 gram serving compared to salmon or trout, and contain a similar amount of vitamin D. You should still be consuming ~150 grams a week of fatty fish like salmon for the omega-3 content though.
9. Fava beans: 1/2 cup of fava beans has under 100 calories which is about 50% less than other popular legume varieties such as chickpeas and navy beans.
10. Leafy Green + Tomato Salad: Leafy greens like spinach, kale and chard have a close to negligible caloric value and tomatoes are also very low in calories. These two foods go together well and if you stick to a vinegar-based dressing in the mix you can eat a significant amount of salad for very little caloric cost.
Weight loss is not the be all and end all when it comes to healthy eating, but the reality is that many people out there seek help to reduce their weight. The 10 foods that I have introduced today may be particularly helpful to those of you in that boat.
All else equal , incorporating these foods into your diet in place of higher calorie alternatives will likely confer some benefit in reaching your weight loss and weight management goals by slightly reducing your overall caloric intake.
Andy De Santis RD MPH