Calorie counting can be pretty hectic to do every single day. That’s why low-calorie foods that fill you up are essential because they make your work easy.
Moreover, if you’re trying to eat fewer calories, it can be difficult to determine what foods will fill you up without filling you out. Especially if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to eat foods that satisfy your hunger but are low in calories, so you aren’t constantly hungry and craving more food throughout the day.
Below is a list of low-calorie foods that fill you up to help keep your calorie intake low while still giving you the satisfaction of feeling full. But first, let’s understand a few things:
What Is A Calorie?
A calorie is a unit measurement of energy released when your body breaks down food through digestion.
The more calories a food has, the more energy it will release. The body uses the energy released for different body processes including, providing energy for cell function.
However, if the food contains more calories than the body needs, the extra calories will be stored in the body as fat. Over time this may lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, obesity, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other metabolic conditions.
What Is The Recommended Daily Caloric Intake?
According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an adult’s general daily calorie intake can range between 1600 – 3200 calories per day.
But this may vary depending on different factors like metabolism, age, and gender.
For instance, a male adult needs between 2200-and and 3200 calories per day while a woman needs between1600-2400 calories per day.
A person with a high metabolism may also burn more calories and lose weight more quickly than someone with a slow metabolism.
Likewise, if you eat more calories and exercise more, you’re less likely to store it as fat because the body will use the calories to fuel your physical activity.
That’s why counting calories is not practical. On the other hand, eating healthy and being physically active will automatically balance out your calories.
But if you have a slow metabolism and struggle with weight gain, then a low-calorie diet may be an option to consider. More than that, let whatever you eat be nutrient-dense to ensure you are getting other nutrients the body needs.
What’s A Low-Calorie Food Diet?
This is a diet aiming to restrict your calorie intake to no more than 1000 – 1200 for women and 1200 – 1600 for men. This creates a calorie deficit that may lead to weight loss.
Benefits of Low-Calorie Foods
Most foods that are low in calories are generally high in fiber and other essential vitamins and minerals.
Besides helping you maintain a healthy weight, these foods can:
- Reduce inflammation
- Increase energy and productivity
- Regulate blood sugar
- Increase insulin sensitivity
- Lower the risk of chronic conditions
Incredibly Low-Calorie Foods That Fill You Up
1. Chia seed
If you need a highly fulfilling low-calorie breakfast that will keep you satisfied for a long time, chia seeds are a great option. They contain a good amount of soluble fiber and protein to increase satiety, slow digestion and prevent cravings.
The soluble fiber absorbs water in the stomach and swells, giving you a feeling of fullness. It also slows digestion, keeping you full longer.
A study examining the effects of chia seeds on satiety found that adding 7-14 grams of chia seeds to yogurt can lower the desire for sugary food, decrease hunger, and lower energy intake in the next meal.
One serving (an ounce) of chia seeds provides 137 calories, 10 grams of fiber, and 4.4 grams of protein.
You can add chia seeds to your oatmeal, prepare a chia seed pudding, or sprinkle them on yogurt or smoothies. See More, Mango Chia Pudding, Coconut Chia Salad Dressing, Chia Seeds Benefits And Nutrition.
Oats are quite low in calories, with half a cup (40g) containing 148 calories.
They are also a good source of protein and fiber, especially beta-glucan, which has been shown to improve cholesterol, boost immunity, and fight cancer cells.
Both the protein and fiber content in oats has been shown to promote satiety and fullness. In one study, oatmeal increased satiety, decreased appetite, and reduced energy intake in the next meal.
The easiest way to eat oats is to make oatmeal. You can add fruits, nuts, seeds, and/or cinnamon to enhance the taste. See, Vegan Banana Oatmeal Pancakes, Vegan Carrot Cake Pancakes, 11 Amazing Benefits Of Oatmeal.
Quinoa is low in calories and a complete protein with all the essential amino acids needed by the body.
It’s also a great source of minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have been shown to protect against cervical, breast, colon, prostate, and bone cancers.
A cup (185g) of cooked quinoa contains 222 calories, 5.2 grams of fiber, and 8.1 grams of protein. Fiber and protein are a great combination to fill you up, enhance satiety, and fight hunger. See 25 Best Vegan Quinoa Recipes, Is Quinoa Gluten-Free?
Lentils are one of the most budget-friendly legumes for a low-calorie but filling meal. They are rich in protein, fiber, and minerals, including manganese, folate, iron, copper, and magnesium.
Lentils contain insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and expands in the stomach, keeping you full for longer.
The fiber in legumes, including lentils, may help improve heart health, boost immunity, and improve digestive health.
5. Kidney beans
Kidney beans are a highly satisfying low-calorie ingredient used in different cuisines around the world.
It’s low in calories but high in fiber and protein, which work together to increase satiety, slow digestion, and reduce appetite.
The fiber in kidney beans has been shown to slow digestion and promote fullness, while the protein reduces ghrelin levels, a hormone that stimulates hunger feelings.
Also known as garbanzo beans, these are actually a type of pea. They’re incredibly high in protein and fiber, two important nutrients for building muscle. One serving contains more than a third of your daily requirements for both protein and fiber.
Despite being high in fiber, protein, and other nutrients, chickpeas are relatively low in calories. 100 grams of cooked chickpeas have just 252 calories. They’re also inexpensive, easy to cook, and can add a lot of flavor to salads and stews. Chickpea Recipes, Are Chickpeas Good For You?
Cucumbers are one of those nutritional powerhouses which may be low in calories but high in everything else. It has zero cholesterol, is loaded with fiber and antioxidants, aids digestion, and fights inflammation as well as a host of other things. Cucumbers are also very easy to carry around and eat while you’re on the move, so they can always be with you when you need them most.
Half a cup of slices of raw cucumber with peel contains 7.8 calories and 49.5 grams of water.
Including them in salads can fill you up quickly without weighing your stomach down. You can also enjoy them with hummus or salad dressing as a quick, low-calorie snack. See Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad.
Whether you eat it fresh or sautéed, spinach helps to fill you up and keep you going. One cup of spinach has just 7 calories, but it’s also rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, K, and folate. Spinach is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin—two antioxidants linked to healthy eyesight.
It’s a good idea to incorporate spinach into your diet as often as possible; there are so many ways to use it! Try making a spinach salad with low-fat dressing or blend it into smoothies, or try serving it alongside your grilled tofu. It also makes a great addition to pasta, casseroles, soups, and sandwiches. See How To Grow Spinach?
Sometimes called courgette, zucchini is a delicious (and healthy) substitute for pasta or potatoes. It might seem strange to add pasta alternatives to a low-calorie list, but zucchini noodles are an excellent alternative for anyone watching their waistline. While traditional pasta contains around 200 calories per cup, zucchini noodles contain only about 18. See Vegan Zucchini Recipes.
You can also stir-fry it, toss it in a salad, or add it to tacos for some extra flavor and nutrients. You can add some herbs such as oregano, basil, or parsley to make it more flavorful.
Consuming spinach is also one way to feel up on vegetables which increases your fiber intake thus promoting healthy digestion and aiding weight loss. Zucchini is also a good source of vitamin C and potassium, which lowers blood pressure and improves heart health. See Yellow Squash Nutrition.
Celery is a great option if you’re looking for vegetables that are low in fat and calories. Celery is a great way to fill up on fiber and water, both of which will help you stay fuller longer.
One stalk of celery only has 16 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates? With only 3 calories per ounce, and impressive 95% water content, celery is a great food to keep around if you’re trying to lose weight.
It can be eaten raw or cooked, and it pairs well with dips like hummus or guacamole. It also makes for a good replacement for chips in salsa or bean dip recipes. Just chop it up into bite-sized pieces and enjoy.
However, if you’re on a low sodium diet, beware: celery does contain some sodium (about 20mg per serving). Make sure to consume it in moderation if sodium intake is something you need to watch. See Is Celery Juice Good For You?
One cup of broccoli contains just 33 calories but more than 4 grams of fiber. That helps to keep you feeling full for longer, so you’re less likely to reach for snacks. Broccoli is also loaded with vitamin C and a host of other nutrients which help promote overall health in addition to helping to fight disease, making it one of the best low-cal foods on our list.
Broccoli is also chock full of beta carotene and folic acid, along with potassium and calcium. Better yet, it’s an excellent source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which may reduce your risk for macular degeneration. This cruciferous vegetable also contains phytochemicals called indoles that help fight cancer cells. In addition to being tasty, broccoli is incredibly versatile; try adding florets to salads or tossing them into stir-fries. 10 Most Important Health Benefits Of Broccoli.
12. Green beans
Green beans have fewer calories than other vegetables (10 per 1/2 cup), and they’re packed with fiber, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants.
This veggie is particularly filling because of its high fiber content. Beans like green beans are also a good source of iron, which helps your red blood cells transport oxygen to your body’s tissues. Green beans are great on their own or in soups or stir-fry dishes. See Vegan Green Beans And Potatoes, and Green Bean Nutrition And Facts.
This low-calorie cruciferous vegetable is a filling, delicious option. One cup of cauliflower contains about 29 calories and 2 grams of fiber, which aids in digestion and keeps your hunger in check.
Cauliflower also contains vitamins C and K, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate. It’s often recommended for people who are trying to lose weight or on a diabetic diet because it’s so low in calories yet so high in nutrients. Cauliflower Benefits And Nutrition and 15 Cauliflower Vegan Recipes.
14. Swiss chard
This green leafy vegetable is known to be rich in vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, and manganese. It also contains phytonutrients that help prevent cancer.
Additionally, it’s a good source of fiber (2 grams per serving), which helps keep your digestion regular and prevents constipation. In addition, it’s only 35 calories per cup cooked. There are many ways you can enjoy Swiss chard, including adding it to a stir-fry or sauteing it with garlic and olive oil. See Sauteed Swiss Chard and Swiss Chard Soup.
15. Brussels sprouts
High in fiber and packed with protein, these little vegetables will help you feel fuller longer. A quarter-cup of brussels sprouts is only 25 calories. They are best enjoyed when roasted; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried herbs such as rosemary or thyme.
To roast them, cook at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until they’re browned on top and tender inside. Yum! See Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Brussels Sprout Stalk.
Other Related Articles
- Romaine Lettuce Nutrition And Benefits
- 10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Noni
- How To Increase Insulin Sensitivity Naturally
- Healthy Fats To Consume
- Best Fiber Foods For Constipation
Cutting back on calories doesn’t mean starving yourself. Packing your diet with plenty of high-fiber, low-calorie foods will go a long way toward helping you feel full and satisfied on fewer calories.
The foods in this article are low in calories but high in fiber and protein and can initiate early satiety, fight feelings of hunger, and help you stay full longer. This may help prevent excess calorie intake and unnecessary weight gain that might predispose you to health complications.
Get discounted copies of my cookbook here.
Fortunately, because of the Ads on our website, readers and subscribers of Healthier Steps are sponsoring many underprivileged families.