We all hear a lot about watching what we eat and how many calories we consume in a day. Of course it’s important to know because one of the keys to losing weight is consuming fewer calories than your body burns.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the recommended daily calorie intake is as follows:
- 1800 to 2400 calories for women (age 19 to 51)
- 2200 to 3000 calories for men (age 19 to 51)
- 1000 to 3200 calories for children and adolescents
People who are physically active or those who want to gain weight will need to consume more calories.
Whether you want to lose weight or stay healthy, including low-calorie foods in your diet can help a lot.
Simply keeping track of the amount of calories you eat and restricting your calorie intake can make you healthier in many ways. First of all, it will benefit your waistline and keep your weight in check.
By reducing the risk of being overweight or obese, you can also reduce the risk for conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease and lots more.
There are many foods that are low in calories and high in nutritional value. In fact, some are so amazingly low in calories that you can indulge in them without worrying about calories or blowing your weight loss goal!
Here are the top 10 ridiculously low-calorie foods.
One cup of chopped watercress contains only 4 calories.
Apart from being low in calories, this food does not contain any fat.
Other nutrients in watercress include protein; folate; copper; vitamins A, B6, C, E and K; thiamin; riboflavin; calcium; magnesium; phosphorus; potassium and manganese.
The simplest way to eat watercress is to toss it into a salad with a light dressing. You can also use it to make soup, smoothies, juice, sandwiches, pesto and dips.
One cup of arugula contains just 6 calories.
Arugula is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich food that everyone should eat. The delicate, green leaves are also low in fat.
In addition, the leaves are loaded with nutrients like fiber; vitamins A, B5, B6, C and K; folate; calcium; iron; zinc; magnesium; phosphorus; potassium and manganese.
While the fresh young and tender leaves go well with salad and pesto, the darker leaves can be used in soups and pizza toppings.
One cup of spinach contains just 7 calories.
This leafy green is low in calories as well as carbohydrates. It is extremely high in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, making it a perfect addition to any healthy diet plan.
While high in antioxidants, you can also find other nutrients in this leafy vegetable like iron, folic acid, vitamin K, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, magnesium, manganese, copper and dietary fiber.
Spinach can be added to salads, vegetable juice or a green smoothie. It can also be cooked lightly and served as a side dish.
4. Swiss Chard
One cup of Swiss chard contains just 7 calories.
Swiss chard, a close relative of the beet, is another vegetable that is very low in calories and carbohydrates.
It also packs an impressive list of nutrients like vitamins A, C, E and K; potassium; magnesium; manganese; calcium; copper; iron; choline and many other trace minerals.
Although chard leaves are always a dark green, the stems can be white, yellow or bright red. You can eat both the leaves and stems. Cook them together or separately, and use them in your salad or soup.
5. Romaine Lettuce
One cup of shredded romaine lettuce contains just 8 calories.
Any kind of lettuce, including romaine, is very low in calories as well as high in water content. When it comes to nutrients, romaine lettuce contains several B vitamins along with vitamins A, C and K; folic acid; iron; manganese; fiber; potassium; zinc and copper.
Romaine lettuce is synonymous with salads, as they comprise crispy green lettuce leaves. For a tasty and filling salad, add low-calorie vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper to your romaine lettuce. Simply season it with salt, pepper, a dash of olive oil and lemon juice, and your salad will be ready.
Another ultimate low-calorie food is celery sticks. One cup chopped celery contains just 16 calories.
Apart from being low in calories, it is mostly made of water (95 percent). Also, celery contains tons of nutrients like vitamins A, C, K and some B vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, potassium and fiber.
Plus, celery is low in carbohydrates, while also being packed with fiber.
You can snack on plain celery sticks with some low-calorie dip. You can also use this crunchy vegetable to make soup, stew, salad or stir-fry.
One cup of diced cucumber contains just 16 calories.
This water-rich vegetable is low in calories as well as fat, and its nutritional profile is highly impressive.
Some of the important nutrients in cucumbers include vitamins K, C and different B vitamins. They are also a good source of copper, amino acids, soluble and insoluble fiber, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, biotin and silica.
You can eat cucumbers as a healthy snack, with or without some dip. Cucumber sandwiches, juice, smoothies and soup are also very tasty.
One cup of sliced radishes contains just 18 calories.
This brightly colored vegetable is low in calories as well as fat and carbohydrates.
Radishes also contain fiber, vitamins B6 and C, potassium, folate, manganese, copper, magnesium and calcium.
Commonly eaten raw, you can also braise, steam or sauté radishes. Whether cooked or raw, maximize the nutrient value of radishes by choosing a low-fat preparation.
To reap the health benefits, don’t forget to eat the leafy green tops.
One cup of chopped zucchini contains just 21 calories.
This is another ultimate high-volume food that is low in calories and carbohydrates and has negligible fat.
It is also rich in nutrients like potassium, folate, vitamins A and C, manganese, copper and phosphorus. This summer squash also has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, niacin, protein, and soluble and insoluble fiber.
Zucchini is simple to prepare raw or cooked. Grilled zucchini is a good option to try during the hot summer months. Raw zucchini can be enjoyed with some dip. Try cooked zucchini as a salad topper or an ingredient in any stir-fry, soup or wrap.
One cup of shredded cabbage contains just 22 calories.
Green cabbage, red cabbage or bok choy (another type of cabbage), this humble vegetable is low in calories and high in water content.
It is also a good source of vitamins B2, B6, C and K. Other nutrients include magnesium, manganese, fiber, potassium, folate and copper. Additionally, cabbage contains choline, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, pantothenic acid, protein and niacin.
Including cabbage in your diet is very easy. You can eat cabbage raw or lightly cooked and add it to your salad or soup. Lightly sautéed cabbage also tastes good. Another option is to use cabbage to make sauerkraut or kimchi.
More Low-Calorie Foods:
Some other low-calorie foods are carrots, beetroots, broccoli, cauliflower, plums, tomatoes, apricots, green beans, bell peppers, prunes, salmon, asparagus, grapefruits, mushrooms, turnips, lemon, kale, pumpkin, fennel, melons and air-popped popcorn, to name a few.