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Last Updated on December 17, 2020

10 Best Low Calorie Foods That Help You Lose Weight Fast

10 Best Low Calorie Foods That Help You Lose Weight Fast

One of the most challenging aspects of weight loss is cutting back on the amount of calories you eat. Many low-calorie foods can leave you feeling hungry and unfulfilled between meals, making it much more tempting to overeat and indulge.

Fortunately, plenty of healthy foods exist that are both filling and low in calories.

Here are 10 low-calorie foods that are surprisingly filling and will help you on your path to weight loss.

1. Greek Yoghurt

Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein that can help curb cravings and promote weight loss.

Though the exact numbers vary between brands and flavors, a 2/3-cup (150-gram) serving of Greek yoghurt typically provides about 130 calories and 11 grams of protein.[1]

One study in 20 women examined how a high-protein yoghurt snack affected appetite compared to unhealthy high-fat snacks like chocolate or crackers.[2] Not only did the women who ate yoghurt experience less hunger, but they also consumed 100 fewer calories at dinner than those who ate crackers or chocolate.

Meanwhile, in another study in 15 women, high-protein Greek yoghurt helped reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness compared to lower-protein snacks.[3]

2. Berries

Berries—including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries—are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can optimize your health. Their high fiber content also boosts weight loss and reduces hunger. For example, 1 cup (148 grams) of blueberries supplies just 84 calories but packs 3.6 grams of fiber.[4]

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Berries are also a great source of pectin, a type of dietary fiber that has been shown to slow stomach emptying and increase feelings of fullness in human and animal studies.[5] This could also help cut calorie consumption to aid weight loss.

One study noted that a 65-calorie afternoon snack of berries decreased calorie intake later in the day compared to a 65-calorie confectionery snack.[6]

3. Eggs

Eggs are extremely nutrient-dense and rich in many vital nutrients, making them one of the best low-calorie foods. A single large egg has approximately 72 calories, 6 grams of protein, and a wide array of important vitamins and minerals.[7]

Studies suggest that starting your day with a serving of eggs can reduce hunger and boost fullness. In a study in 30 women, those who ate eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel experienced greater feelings of fullness and consumed 105 fewer calories later in the day.[8]

4. Chia Seeds

Often hailed as a serious superfood, chia seeds pack a high amount of protein and fiber into a low number of calories. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds provides 137 calories, 4.4 grams of protein, and a whopping 10.6 grams of fiber.[9]

Chia seeds are especially high in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that absorbs liquid and swells in your stomach to promote feelings of fullness. In fact, some research observed that chia seeds can absorb 10 to 12 times their weight in water, moving slowly through your digestive tract to keep you feeling full.[10]

Adding a serving or two of chia seeds to your daily diet can curb cravings and reduce appetite.

5. Fish

Fish is rich in protein and heart-healthy fats. For instance, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cod provides over 15 grams of protein and under 70 calories.

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Research points out that increasing protein intake can decrease appetite and reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger.[11] What’s more, fish protein may be especially beneficial for reducing hunger levels and appetite.

One study evaluating the effects of beef, chicken, and fish protein showed that fish protein had the greatest impact on feelings of fullness.[12]

To cut calorie consumption even further, opt for lean fish like cod, flounder, halibut ,or sole over higher-calorie options like salmon, sardines, or mackerel.

6. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a great source of protein and an excellent snack for those looking to lose weight. One cup (226 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese packs about 28 grams of protein and just 163 calories.[13]

Multiple studies demonstrate that upping your protein intake from low-calorie foods like cottage cheese can decrease appetite and hunger levels.[14]

What’s more, it has been found that cottage cheese and eggs had similar effects on fullness in 30 healthy adults.[15]

7. Lean Meat

Lean meat can efficiently reduce hunger and appetite between meals.

Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and low-fat cuts of red meat are low in calories but loaded with protein. For example, 4 ounces (112 grams) of cooked chicken breast contains about 185 calories and 35 grams of protein.

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Research suggests that insufficient protein intake could increase hunger and appetite, while eating more protein can reduce calorie intake and hunger levels.[16] People who ate a high-protein meal including meat consumed 12% less food by weight at dinner than those who ate a high-carb, meatless meal.

8. Legumes

Because of their high protein and fiber content, legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are great low-calorie foods and can be incredibly filling. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils provides about 230 calories, as well as 15.6 grams of fiber and nearly 18 grams of protein.[17]

Legumes have a powerful effect on hunger and appetite. One study in 43 young men noted that a high-protein meal with beans and peas increased feelings of fullness and reduced appetite and hunger more than a high-protein meal with veal and pork.[18]

Another review of nine studies reported that people felt 31% more full after eating pulses, a type of legume, compared to high-carb meals of pasta and bread.[19]

9. Watermelon

Watermelon has a high water content to keep you hydrated and full while supplying a minimal number of calories. One cup (152 grams) of diced watermelon contains 46 calories alongside an assortment of essential micronutrients like vitamins A and C.[20]

Eating foods with a low-calorie density, such as watermelon, has been shown to have similar effects on feelings of fullness and hunger compared to high-calorie-density foods.[21]

Plus, foods with a lower calorie density have been linked to lower body weight and decreased calorie intake.

10. Broccoli

When it comes to dieting, broccoli is an all-star food with many health benefits. While low in calories, broccoli is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, in addition to fiber.

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Raw broccoli contains almost 90% water, 7% carbs, 3% protein, and almost no fat, providing only 31 calories per cup (91 grams).[22] It’s easy to see why broccoli is always the star of each diet.

Broccoli isn’t just low in calories, but it’s also packed with micronutrients. A cup of cooked broccoli offers as much vitamin C as an orange and is a good source of beta-carotene. Broccoli contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, too. It also provides fiber.

The Bottom Line

Cutting back on calories doesn’t mean you have to constantly feel hungry or unsatisfied between meals.

Eating a wide variety of filling foods with plenty of protein and fiber can fight cravings and decrease hunger to make weight loss easier than ever.

Paired with an active lifestyle and well-rounded diet, these low-calorie foods can keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day.

More Weight Loss Tips

Featured photo credit: Joanna Kosinska via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Self-Nutrition Data: Greek Style Yoghurt
[2] Nutr. J.: Effects of high-protein vs. high- fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy women.
[3] Appetite: Low, moderate, or high protein yogurt snacks on appetite control and subsequent eating in healthy women
[4] Self Nutritional Data: Raw Blueberries
[5] Journal of the American College of NutritionEffect of pectin on satiety in healthy US Army adults.
[6] Appetite: An afternoon snack of berries reduces subsequent energy intake compared to an isoenergetic confectionary snack.
[7] Self Nutritional Data: Egg, Whole, Raw, Fresh
[8] Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects.
[9] Self Nutritional Data: Seeds, Chia Seeds, Dried
[10] Journal of Food Science and Technology: Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review
[11] Self Nutritional Data: Fish, Cod, Pacific, Raw
[12] The Journal of nutrition: A comparison of the effects of beef, chicken and fish protein on satiety and amino acid profiles in lean male subjects.
[13] Self Nutritional Data: Cottage Cheese
[14] The American Journal of Clinical NutritionEffect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response.
[15] Appetite: The satiating effects of eggs or cottage cheese are similar in healthy subjects despite differences in postprandial kinetics.
[16] International Journal of ObesityEffects of a high-protein meal (meat) and a high-carbohydrate meal (vegetarian) on satiety measured by automated computerized monitoring of subsequent food intake, motivation to eat and food preferences.
[17] Self Nutritional Data: Lentils
[18] Food & Nutrition Research: Meals based on vegetable protein sources (beans and peas) are more satiating than meals based on animal protein sources (veal and pork) – a randomized cross-over meal test study
[19] Obesity (Silver Spring).Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials.
[20] Self Nutritional Data: Watermelon
[21] Nutrients: Link between Food Energy Density and Body Weight Changes in Obese Adults
[22] Healthline: Broccoli 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

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Davide Alfonsi

Online Weight Loss And Exercise Specialist

6 Best Fat Burning Exercises at Home to Push Your Limits 5 Weight Lifting Exercises for Absolute Beginners 7 Effective Ways to Cope with Stress How to Do Transcendental Meditation (Step-by-Step Guide) 10 Best Low Calorie Foods That Help You Lose Weight Fast

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Published on April 8, 2021

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

Beetroots are vegetables rich in nitrates, antioxidants, and polyphenol compounds that have a role in improved cardiovascular function and exercise performance.[1] However, beetroot juice has limitations with storage and taste preference, and so other more convenient forms have been investigated. One of these forms is beetroot powder.

What Is Beetroot Powder?

Beetroot powder is made by dehydrating or drying out thin slices of beetroot (to remove all the moisture) and then grinding them into a powder. If you don’t like the earthy taste of beetroot, then beetroot powder might be an alternative since it is more concentrated than fresh beetroot but with a relatively neutral taste. One fresh beetroot is the equivalent of approximately one teaspoon of beetroot powder.

Powdered beetroot can be added to sauces, smoothies, pasta, gnocchi, curries, cakes, muffins, or anything you choose to add nutrients and color to. Watch out that your urine may change color too! Due to the natural sugars in beetroot, it can also be used as a natural sweetener. Beetroot powder is even used in natural cosmetics.

Beetroot Powder VS. Other Beetroot Products

One study looked at the total antioxidant potential, phenol compounds, sugars, and organic acids in beetroot juice, cooked beetroot, powder, and chips. They found higher amounts of total antioxidant potential and organic acids in the chips and powder compared with the juice and cooked beetroot.[2] However, it’s important to consider that it is a lot easier to take larger quantities of beetroot when powdered or juiced than just eating it and this means ingesting much more sugar.

6 Health Benefits of Beetroot

While beetroot may have potential health benefits, it’s not clear if these are temporary or have long-term effects. More research is needed to answer this question and what the optimal dose is. Most studies have focused on beetroot juice, with only a handful of studies investigating beetroot powder. There hasn’t been evidence so far to support the benefit of beetroot powder on blood flow.[3]

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Despite that, beetroot contains several different compounds with different properties. Here are the six health benefits of beetroot powder.

1. Beetroot Powder Is Rich in Nitrates

Firstly, beetroot powder is rich in nitrates. Nitrates have important roles related to increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondrial efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction.[4] By causing relaxation of the smooth muscles that encircle arteries and veins, nitrate leads to the dilation of these blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. Nitrate medications are used for people with high blood pressure, angina, and heart disease to relax blood vessels, widening them to allow greater blood flow.[5]

A meta-analysis that combined 22 different trials and analyzed the results together found that additional beetroot juice significantly decreased blood pressure.[6] However, there isn’t evidence to support the long-term effects.[7]

2. Beetroot Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Secondly, beetroot contains antioxidant polyphenol compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to neutralize free radicals and protect against cell damage that can lead to chronic diseases. Eating a diet high in antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease.[8] Different polyphenol compounds are different colors, that’s why you will often hear about eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables.

3. Beetroot Has Anti-Cancer Effects

Beetroot also contains betalains that have been found to have anti-cancer effects in cellular models in the laboratory.[9] Clinical trials are now needed to assess if there are potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and the nature of these effects. While the anti-cancer effects of beetroot in humans aren’t known yet, including them in your diet may help and is unlikely to risk harm.

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4. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Vitamins C and Folate

Beetroots are also a great source of vitamins C and B9 (folate). Vitamin C and folate have many important roles in our bodies. Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, which acts as a scaffold in the skin and ligaments. It is also has a role in wound healing and protein metabolism. Folic acid is vital for the production of healthy red blood cells, and cellular growth. Inadequate intake of vitamin C over a 3 month period can lead to scurvy, and smoking can further reduce the bioavailability.[10]

5. Beetroot Contains Essential Minerals

Beets also contain the minerals iron, manganese, and potassium. Iron has a vital role in the transportation of oxygen by healthy red blood cells. Over 40% of children worldwide have iron deficiency anemia and women of childbearing age are also at increased risk because of menstruation.[11] Potassium may actually prevent the harmful effects of eating excess salt (sodium chloride). Manganese has several roles including metabolism, bone formation, and the immune system. Beetroots are a great way of including all these micronutrients in your diet.

6. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Fiber

Fiber is such an important component of our diet, with most of us needing to eat much more to reach the recommended daily amount of 30g. For every 10g of fiber you eat a day, you may decrease your long-term risk of bowel cancer.[12]

Fibre also acts as a pre-biotic, providing food for the friendly micro-organisms in your gut called the microbiota. There are trillions of micro-organisms in your gut that are now known to play a key role in inflammation and both mental and physical health. Eating beetroots can help to increase your fiber intake and support a healthy gut community.

It’s clear that for relatively few calories, beetroot contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, nitrates, and antioxidants. For these reasons, beetroot is labeled as a “nutraceutical” and supplementation has become increasingly popular.[13] While most studies have looked at the effects of beetroot on blood vessel dilation, there are still many unanswered questions about other potential benefits.

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How to Choose a Beetroot Powder

Like all other supplements, there is very little regulation. Therefore, it is very difficult to be sure exactly what is included in the supplement or assess the quality. My recommendations for choosing a supplement are to check for a product license and always buy from a reputable company.

There are, however, no agreed benchmarks for quality or efficacy. How much and how often are also unknown at this time. Try to avoid powders that have added preservatives, sweeteners, or artificial flavorings. Consider whether an organic powder is worth the extra money to you. I would avoid powders that have added silica to avoid clumping. Some supplements now use 3rd party companies to verify the contents.

There isn’t an agreed dose of nitrate or beetroot powder, so while some powders do contain nitrate content, it is difficult to know exactly what this means in practice. The higher the nitrate content, the more likely it is to have a beneficial effect on raised blood pressure. But if you don’t have high blood pressure, it’s difficult to know if more nitrate is beneficial.

In summary, look for:

  • organic beetroot powder
  • tested for quality by a 3rd party company
  • is free from preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial flavorings
  • avoid powders containing silica
  • buy from a reputable company
  • look at the nitrate content

How to Make Your Own Beetroot Powder

First, wash, peel, and grate your beetroots by hand or using a food processor. Then, place them on a tray, spread them out, and cover them with parchment or grease-proof paper to protect them from direct sunlight.

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Leave to dry until there is no moisture left and shake intermittently so that it dries evenly. When it snaps instead of bending and feels dry, it is ready for the next stage.

The drying stage can take up to four days depending on the air temperature. To speed up the drying process, you can do this on low heat in a saucepan for 15 to 25 minutes or in the oven at no higher than 180 degrees Celsius or in a dehydrator. If you use the oven or on the hob, just be careful not to burn the beetroot.

The final step is to grind the dried beetroot using a grinder. It can then be stored in an airtight container, avoiding sun-light for up to one year.

Should You Try Beetroot Powder?

Beetroot is a great vegetable that contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nitrates, and fiber. The nitrates present in beets may lower your blood pressure in the short-term, but the long-term effects are not yet known. More research is needed to know about other potential benefits such as the effect on cancer.

So, while beetroot powder may have health benefits unless taken in excess, it is unlikely to have significant side effects. Large doses of beetroot, however, are associated with an increased risk of kidney stones.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking beetroot supplements is best avoided as there isn’t sufficient safety information. Beetroots do also contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols or FODMAPS for short. These are types of carbohydrates that are hard to digest and can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in some people. FODMAPS are thought to act as prebiotics, feeding the friendly micro-organisms that live in your gut (microbiota). So, for those people who can tolerate them, they are beneficial for a healthy gut.

More Resources About Beetroot

Featured photo credit: FOODISM360 via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide pathway
[2] SpringerLink: Comparison of total antioxidant potential, and total phenolic, nitrate, sugar, and organic acid contents in beetroot juice, chips, powder, and cooked beetroot
[3] Maastricht University: Effects of Beetroot Powder with or without L-Arginine on Postprandial Vascular Endothelial Function: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial with Abdominally Obese Men
[4] PubMed.gov: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
[5] PubMed.gov: Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses
[6] PubMed.gov: The Nitrate-Independent Blood Pressure-Lowering Effect of Beetroot Juice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
[7] PubMed.gov: Medium-term effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
[8] NCCIH: Antioxidants: In-Depth
[9] NCBI: Red Beetroot and Betalains as Cancer Chemopreventative Agents
[10] Healthline: Beetroot 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
[11] NCBI: The impact of maternal iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia on child’s health
[12] Cancer Research UK: Does a high fibre diet reduce my risk of cancer?
[13] PubMed.gov: The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease

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