Dieting doesn’t have to be about deprivation. Many delicious and healthy foods can fill you up without causing weight gain and you can eat them (pretty much) to your heart’s content. “Mostly any vegetable besides potato, corn and peas, you can eat endlessly,” says Alexis Supan, a dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine, according to AARP.
One cup of chopped broccoli or a grilled portobello mushroom has only 30 calories. You can devour two cups of lettuce and consume less than 16 calories. Nosh on celery sticks at 10 calories a stalk and you’ll see why it’s been long touted as an ideal low-calorie food, says Healthline. It’s also a great digestive aid, containing pectin-based polysaccharides that have been shown to decrease the risk of developing stomach ulcers.
Celery and other veggies are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are also fiber-rich, which keeps blood sugar levels stable. If vegetables aren’t your favorite food, try roasting them in the oven at 400 degrees until crisp and tender. Broccoli and cauliflower are perfect examples of how roasting can bring out the best flavor. Simply spray olive oil on the florets, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook for about 15 minutes.
For extra zip, make a low-calorie dip by mixing a packet of ranch dressing mix with non-fat Greek yogurt, says Beata Rydyger, a registered nutritionist based in Los Angeles.
Fruits can also be consumed in abundance if they are low in sugar, says Supan. Some examples are berries, kiwi, and grapefruit. Just make sure that eating grapefruit doesn’t interact with any medication you may be taking, says AARP. Grapes are an ideal snack food, but because they are high in sugar content, limit them to a cup and a half daily.
Egg whites have only 17 calories per egg and are protein-rich, says Step to Health. They pack about 67% of all the protein found in eggs, including all nine essential amino acids in the amounts your body needs to function at its best. Egg whites also contain vitamin B2, B5 and selenium. They are also cholesterol-free and fat-free, unlike the yolk. You can fry egg whites in a non-stick pan or use olive oil spray.
Popcorn is another food that if prepared without extra fat can be eaten in large quantities without causing weight gain. Popcorn contains just 31 calories per 100 grams. According to WebMD, popcorn contains phenolic acids, a type of antioxidant. In addition, popcorn is a whole grain, an important food group that may reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. The popular snack also has a low glycemic index which means it may help maintain blood sugar levels more easily.
Seaweed is another nutrient-rich, very low-calorie food. One cup of regular seaweed has 30 calories. It contains a lot of fiber which helps you feel fuller for longer and can delay hunger pangs. Several studies have shown that a substance in seaweed called fucoxanthin may help reduce body fat. It’s rich in vitamins A, C, and E along with a wide variety of beneficial plant compounds, including flavonoids and carotenoids. Seaweed may also reduce your cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk for blood clots.
Drinking water or bone broth throughout the day can also help you feel fuller between meals. You can add lemon juice to the water for extra flavor.
“That’s why I recommend for clients to start very slow,” says Rydyger. “Make a few swaps each week and see if that works. Maybe add one vegetable into a meal once a day. Starting very small and building your way toward a lifestyle change is important.”
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