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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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Online Weight Loss And Exercise Specialist

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Published on January 14, 2021

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

Meal plans are a great way to cut down waste, make shopping for food quicker and easier, and help you to stick to healthy choices. But where do you start? What makes a healthy meal plan for the week, and how do you know what to include?

Firstly, there is no healthy meal plan that works for everyone. At different stages of your life, you will need different levels of nutrients, but there are some general principles that you can follow, and then adjust as necessary. Here’s how to create a healthy meal plan for the week.

The Backbone of Your Healthy Meal Plan

For the vast majority of adults, these practical tips should be the backbone of your meal plan:

  • A range of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain carbohydrates (brown rice, brown bread, millet, bulgar wheat, etc)
  • Fermented food such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
  • Unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Two portions of oily fish such as salmon per week (or nuts and seeds if you don’t eat fish)
  • A handful of nuts and seeds a day
  • Aim for 30g of fiber a day
  • Eat a range of beans and pulses (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils)
  • Drink approximately 8 glasses of water a day[1]

Calorie Counting

A calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1g water from 14.5 to 15.5°Celsius. This is calculated in a laboratory, by burning the food. However, the food is not “burnt” in our bodies, and people’s metabolism and energy expenditure vary, so it’s a very rough estimate.

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The absorption and, therefore, how much energy is available for you to use, is also affected by how the food is processed. An example of this is sweetcorn. If you grind it down into a powder and make a tortilla, you will absorb far more calories than if you eat whole sweetcorn kernels. Instead, you will see most of the kernels untouched, in the toilet!

Another concern with calories is that instead of thinking about nutrient quality, it promotes prioritizing quantity. For example, there is a huge difference in the number of nutrients you could consume in 500 calories of fruit and vegetables, versus 500 calories of ice cream.

Also the number of calories you need varies according to so many factors, such as age, gender, lifestyle, and activity level, that it is hard to accurately predict exactly how many you need. Instead, I prefer to recommend a general principle of how to balance your plate and a reminder to eat mindfully when you are physically hungry, not because of an emotional trigger.

How to Balance Your Plate

When thinking of your healthy meal plan, for each meal your plate should contain approximately:

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  • Fruit and vegetables (1/2 plate)
  • Whole grains (1/4 plate)
  • Lean protein (1/4 plate)
  • A spoon of unsaturated oil

This will help you when you think of each meal to work out what to include and approximate portion sizes.

An Example Day

Breakfast

  • Overnight oats, with chia seeds, quinoa and milk or fortified plant based milk
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • A handful of mixed nuts

Lunch

  • Grilled tofu with a mixed salad and bulgar wheat
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • Apple slices with nut butter

Dinner

  • Chicken / tofu / salmon with miso brown rice and spring greens
  • OR vegetable curry, daal, and brown rice
  • OR stuffed aubergine with mixed vegetables and millet or quinoa
  • A piece of fruit

How to Adjust Your Meal Plan

There are certain phases when more or less nutrients are needed, so it is important to consider your changing needs.

When You’re Pregnant

During your pregnancy, you should limit oily fish to once a week, and only 2 tuna steaks or 4 medium sized cans of tuna per week, because of the risk of pollution.

You should also avoid the following food groups:

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  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized cheese
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Pâté
  • Swordfish, shark, and marlin
  • Homemade ice-cream with raw egg
  • Soft-serve ice cream from vans or kiosks
  • Vitamin A supplements
  • Liquorice root
  • Alcohol

When You’re Breastfeeding

While you are breastfeeding, your body needs more calcium (1250mg), selenium (70mcg), and iodine (200mcg). Ensure that you include these in your meal plan.

When Going Through Menopause

Menopause

changes your long-term risk of disease, so it is important to focus on items that help support bone and heart health. The framework above already sets out a diet to support long term heart health, but for bone health aim for:

  • 1200mg calcium per day
  • High-quality protein at every meal
  • Foods rich in vitamin K
  • Foods rich in phosphorus
  • Foods rich in magnesium

Organizing Your Shopping

Once you have completed your healthy meal plan for the week, you can save the ingredients that you regularly need to an online shopping list, in order to make repeat ordering simpler. Some recipe books also now have a QR code so that you can easily synchronize the ingredients needed with your online shopping.

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Try to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible, but canned beans, frozen, dried, and freeze dried fruit make great substitutes for fresh, retaining most of the nutrients.

Final Thoughts

Creating a healthy meal plan for the week may be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become a fun addition to your weekly planning, and one that will ultimately improve your overall lifestyle. Try to use the general feedback above and adapt it to your own specific needs. Enjoy looking for new and exciting recipes to include in your plan!

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Featured photo credit: Ello via unsplash.com

Reference

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