15 Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Foods, According to a Dietitian

15 Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Foods, According to a Dietitian

15 Low-Calorie, Low-Fat Foods, According to a Dietitian

A low-calorie diet involves cutting daily caloric intake without cutting back on nutrients. For many people, the purpose of a low-calorie diet is weight loss, which may be achieved by focusing on burning more calories than you consume, among other elements.

Losing weight may help reduce the risk of weight-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Some people may also try a low-calorie diet for general health and longevity.

If you aim to consume fewer calories, it’s best to have a balanced, varied diet that prioritizes nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and plant-based options. Include healthier unsaturated fats while limiting saturated and trans fats to reduce their negative health effects, as fat is crucial for energy production and nutrient absorption.

Here are 15 low-calorie, low-fat foods from various food groups to support your wellness goals, plus simple ways to integrate them into meals.

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Packed with nutrients such as fiber, folate, and potassium, leafy greens are essential for a low-calorie diet. They’re highly versatile, which makes them a staple in salads and wraps. Add a handful of leafy greens to a smoothie, soup, or pasta.

Spinach is a popular, neutral-tasting leafy green that can go in any dish. One cup of raw spinach offers just 6.9 calories and 0.117 grams (g) of fat. Other leafy greens to consider include:

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Apples are high in fiber and water. They can be a satisfying on-the-go snack, especially when paired with food containing protein and fat, such as nuts or nut butter. Apples are also rich in quercetin, a natural plant pigment known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

A medium-sized Golden Delicious apple has 96.3 calories, 0.254 g of fat, and 4.06 g of fiber.

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Lean protein like chicken breast provides satiety without excess fat or calories. Skinless poultry is often recommended as a substitute for red meat as it’s lower in saturated fat. Choose healthy ways to prepare chicken such as grilling, baking, or roasting.

A 3-ounce portion of grilled, skinless, and boneless chicken provides 128 calories, 2.69 g of fat, and 25.9 g of protein. Poultry is also a good source of B vitamins and minerals like iron and zinc.

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Canned light tuna in water is a lean source of protein and is typically lower in calories and fat than canned tuna in oil. A 3-ounce serving offers 98.6 calories, 0.697 g of fat, and 21.7 g of protein.

As with other fish and seafood, tuna is a source of the omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Most omega-3 fat research is based on these types, including their potential benefits for heart health and brain function. Add a scoop of canned tuna to a salad bowl or spread tuna salad on toast or wraps.

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Popcorn is a whole grain snack, with three cups of air-popped popcorn offering just 93 calories, 1.09 grams of fat, 3.09 g of protein, and 3.48 g of fiber.

To keep it healthy, skip the movie-style popcorn and opt for plain popcorn, flavoring it with a drizzle of olive oil, a little sea salt, and your favorite spices instead of loads of butter and salt.

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Refreshing and hydrating, watermelon is low in calories and can help satisfy sweet cravings. A single cup of diced raw watermelon is mostly water (91% in weight). It has 45.6 calories, 0.228 g of fat, and 14% of the daily value for vitamin C.

Enjoy watermelon as a refreshing snack, blend it into smoothies, or add it to fruit salads.

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Lentils are budget-friendly and easy to find. They’re part of the family of plant foods called legumes, which grow in pods. Legumes are low-fat and rich in nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, potassium, and B vitamins.

A 100-gram serving of boiled lentils provides 116 calories, 0.38 g of fat, 9.02 g of protein, and 7.9 g of fiber. Add lentils to soups, stews, salads, or as a side dish.

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High in protein and calcium, plain Greek yogurt is a creamy, filling low-calorie snack or breakfast. Top with low-sugar granola, fruit, and nuts for a complete meal. You can also make a savory dip with plain Greek yogurt, olive oil, and seasonings.

A 7-ounce (200 grams) container of plain low-fat Greek yogurt has 146 calories and 3.84 g of fat, while a 170-gram container of plain non-fat Greek yogurt has 100 calories and 0.66 g of fat. Some yogurts contain live probiotics, as stated on the label. These are beneficial bacteria that can support healthy digestion.

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Nutrient-dense and low-calorie, broccoli can be enjoyed steamed, roasted, or stir-fried. Broccoli is part of the cruciferous vegetables group that includes cabbage and cauliflower. These vegetables contain glucosinolate, a beneficial plant compound with inflammation-fighting, antioxidant, and chemo-protective effects.

A cup of raw, chopped broccoli provides 30.9 calories, 0.337 g of fat, 2.37 g of fiber, and 90% of the daily value for vitamin C, 77% for vitamin K, and 14% for folate.

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Berries are low-calorie and packed with antioxidants and nutrients. They can be enjoyed fresh or frozen. Add frozen berries to smoothies and fresh berries to cereal or oatmeal. Berries may benefit heart health and cognitive function.

Blueberries are one of the most studied types of berries. A 100-gram serving of raw blueberries offers 57 calories, 0.33 g of fat, 2.4 g of fiber, and 16% of the daily value for vitamin K, 15% for manganese, and 11% for vitamin C.

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Tofu, made from soybeans, is a versatile low-calorie plant-based protein. Incorporate it as a meat substitute in stir-fries, salads, and soups. Soybeans and soy products, such as tofu, contain beneficial compounds like soy isoflavones, which can lower blood sugar and cholesterol and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, among other benefits.

A 100-gram portion of firm tofu fortified with calcium sulfate provides 78 calories, 4.17 g of fat, and 15% of the daily value for calcium and 24% for copper.

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Egg whites are packed with protein and have very few calories and little fat compared to whole eggs. Egg yolks contain protein and other nutrients like vitamin D and choline, but egg whites are an excellent alternative for those mindful of fat and calorie intake. Look for them in powdered or liquid form at the grocery store.

A single ounce of dried egg whites delivers 107 calories, 22,7 g of protein, and zero fat grams. Use egg whites in omelets and scrambles. Egg white powder can be added to smoothies for a protein boost.

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Oats are a great low-calorie base for hot breakfast cereal and homemade snack bars. They contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that can lower cholesterol and blood sugars, support gut health, and suppress appetite.

One cup of instant oats prepared with water offers 159 calories, 3.18 g of fat, 5.55 g of protein, and 3.98 g of fiber. Oats are a good source of nutrients like iron, magnesium, and vitamin B1.

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Bell peppers are vibrant in color, rich in nutrients, and low in calories. They can be enjoyed in stir-fries, salads, and as a snack with dips like hummus. They mostly contain water (92% by weight) and are loaded with vitamin C (154% of the daily value or DV).

A 100-gram serving (3 ounces) of raw bell peppers provides 31 calories and 0.12 g of fat. Bell peppers are a great source of phenolic compounds and carotenoids, which are beneficial plant compounds with antioxidant effects.

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Black beans are often considered the most versatile beans due to their mild flavor and ability to adapt to various cuisines and dishes. They can be used in soups, salads, tacos, burritos, dips, and more. They’re widely available, and you can find them in the store in dried or canned form.

A 100-gram portion of boiled black beans delivers 132 calories, 0.54 g of fat, and 8.86 g of protein. As part of a healthy diet, legumes like beans can lower blood pressure and blood sugar and protect against disease thanks to their rich nutrient and antioxidant content.

Here are some filling and balanced meal ideas incorporating low-calorie, low-fat foods mentioned earlier:

  • Stir-fry bell peppers, broccoli, and snap peas with tofu in a light soy sauce, served over a bed of rice.
  • Make a pasta and leafy green salad with spinach, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and boiled shrimp. Dress with a light vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs.
  • Combine cooked quinoa with black beans, diced bell peppers, corn, and avocado. Season with lime juice, cilantro, and a dash of cumin for a flavorful, filling meal.
  • Mix canned light tuna with non-fat Greek yogurt, diced celery, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Spread onto a whole wheat tortilla, add leafy greens and tomato, and roll into a wrap.
  • Whisk egg whites with sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Serve with whole-grain toast.
  • Simmer lentils with diced vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions in a vegetable broth. Season with herbs like thyme and rosemary for a hearty soup.
  • Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and herbs like parsley and rosemary. Roast alongside potatoes and serve with steamed green beans.

If you want to try a low-calorie, low-fat diet, you can explore beyond fruits and vegetables. Focus on portion control and balance, and include nutrient-rich foods like whole grains and lean proteins for balanced meals.

While this list offers choices, don’t restrict yourself. Experiment with other wholesome options to meet your health goals and keep your meals exciting.