Filling low calorie foods for weight loss

Filling low calorie foods for weight loss
  • PublishedNovember 23, 2020

In this article, we are going to look at filling low-calorie foods and examples of filling low-calorie foods that can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

For one to effectively lose weight, you have to keep your body in a state of calorie deficit. That is to say; you have to burn more calories than you consume. This literally means to eat less and exercise more.

Thus said, keeping calories in check is one of the most challenging areas when it comes to weight loss. Many low-calorie foods leave you feeling hungry and unfulfilled between meals. This makes you liable to overeating, which will most probably lead to weight gain.

What is a calorie?

According to Wikipedia, “a calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.” Concerning food, a calorie is the measure of the amount of energy in food or beverage that we eat.

The food we eat provides the energy (fuel) that our bodies depend on to live, stay healthy, and function. Our bodies burn food to release energy that is stored in form of calories.

Healthy food provides calories and essential nutrients for tissue growth, and the development of strong bones and muscles. However, not all calories are healthy. Fast foods, for example, are at times called “empty calories.” This means that they provide calories with zero nutritional value.

It is therefore important to count calories and create a calorie deficit if you want to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

How many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?

The caloric requirement varies from person to person depending on factors including the individual’s age, activity level, and resting metabolic rate.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines for calorie requirements for various ages and activity levels, a middle-aged moderately active female should consume 2,000 calories per day while a middle-aged moderately active male should consume 2,400 to 2,600 calories per day.

However, if you are looking to lose weight by 1 pound a week, you have to create a calorie deficit. You will have to reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories than required to maintain your current weight.

This means that a middle-age average moderately active woman should consume about 2,000 calories a day to maintain her weight and 1,500 calories per day to lose 1 pound of weight per week.

In the same respect, a middle-aged moderately active man should consume 2,600 calories a day to maintain his weight and 2,100 calories per day to lose 1 pound of weight per week.

Low-energy-density foods vs high-energy-density foods

Not every time you have a big plate or eat large volumes of food results in weight gain. What matters is the energy density of that particular food.

Low-energy-density foods contain fewer calories per volume. They are high in fiber, water, vitamins, and plenty of nutrients. In a nutshell, you tend to eat a larger amount of food but fewer calories.

High-energy-density foods on the other hand contain higher calories per volume. With a small volume of foods, you consume more calories than you burn and the result is weight gain.

Foods like dietary fats have a high energy density and therefore require a substantial amount into our diet. However, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils give the body energy needed for cell growth, organ protection, and many other important functions.

What are filling low-calorie foods and their examples?

The kind of food you eat determines how full you feel. This means that different foods affect fullness differently. For example, it requires fewer calories to fill up from boiled eggs than from ice cream.

With filling low-calorie foods, you stay full longer, ward off hunger, and eat less the next meal. This helps weight loss in the long run.

Satiety is a term that can best describe the feeling of fullness and loss of appetite one experiences after meals. Satiety is measured by a scale called the satiety index, which was developed way back in 1995 in research where 240 calorie servings of 38 varieties of foods were used.

According to the index, foods that score higher than 100 are considered more filling, while those that score under 100 were considered less filling.

In summary, filling low-calorie foods tend to be high in volume but low in energy density, high in fiber, high in protein, whole, and unprocessed.

Would you like to learn about processed foods? here is all you need to know.

Examples of filling low-calorie foods include;

1. Vegetables

Vegetables are good sources of fiber and water. They are also high-volume, low in calorie foods. This implies that they are very good if you are looking to lose weight.

In one study, it was established that eating a large portion of vegetables before a meal increased satiety and reduced overall calorie intake. Examples of vegetables include; potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, spinach, cucumber, and more.

Find more on vegetables and weight loss here.

2. Whole Fruits

Fruit like apples and oranges have a very high satiety score of “200” on the satiety index. They contain fiber and have a low energy density. Fiber slows down digestion which keeps you full for longer. This helps weight loss in the long run. Examples of fruits include; watermelon, berries, grapefruit, passion fruit, kiwifruit, and more.

3. Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is a potential source of protein. It can reduce craving and consequently lead to weight loss. Another good aspect of Greek protein is that it is low in calories. It has around 130 calories per 11grams of protein.

4. Lean meat

Lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and low-fat cuts of red meat are good sources of protein and low in calories. 4 ounces of the cooked chicken breast have around 185 calories and 35 grams of protein; which is a very good proportion.

One study showed that eating a high-protein meal including meat led to the consumption of 12% less food at dinner than a high-carb, meatless meal.

5. Legumes

Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are high in protein, fiber, and low in calories. These have a great effect on hunger, appetite, and weight loss.

6. Oats

Oats are low in calories, high in protein, and high in fiber. They are excellent additions to a weight loss diet because they are feeling.

According to a study where 48 adults were involved, it was established that eating oatmeal increased satiety and reduced hunger and calorie intake the next meal.

7. Popcorn

One medium-sized bag of popcorn has around 16 grams of fiber. It is high in fiber, high in volume, and low in energy density. In fact, popcorn is more filling than potato chips and chocolate.

8. Eggs

Eggs are nutrient-dense and low in calories.  When you start your day with a serving of eggs, you will reduce hunger and boost satiety.

9. Fish

Fish is a good source of protein and heart-healthy fats. Research shows that fish protein has a greater impact on satiety compared to chicken and beef protein.

10. Quinoa

This is a seed/grain with a good source of protein and fiber. Quinoa promotes satiety and helps you eat fewer calories on the next meal.

11. Cottage cheese

Research shows that cottage cheese has a satiety effect like that of eggs. It is low in fat and carbs, high in protein, and provides relatively few calories.

Bottom line

Eating a big plate does not necessarily imply weight gain. What matters is the energy density of the food. At the same time, having fewer calories doesn’t mean hungry or craving between meals.

Filling low-calorie foods are high in fiber, protein, and high in volume yet with a low energy density. They are mostly whole and unprocessed foods. These combined with regular body exercise and a healthy diet will keep you full throughout the day and help weight loss in the long run.


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