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Nutrition

Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

25 Low Calorie Foods to Add Flavor to Your Diet

Though weight loss is multifactorial, it generally proceeds when calories out exceeds calories in. And unlike popular belief, reducing calorie intake does not always translate to intense hunger pangs and bland foods. Optimize flavor with these low-calorie foods without breaking the calorie bank!

25 Low Calorie Foods to Add Flavor to Your Diet


25 Low-Calorie Foods

1. Unsweetened Almond Milk
Almond milk is an exceptionally advocated choice for individuals living with lactose intolerance or a dairy allergy. And with roughly 30 calories per cup, keeping calories low in a bowl of cereal or smoothie has never been so simple.

2. Arugula
Five calories per one cup? Now that's one filling, low-calorie food! Exchange standard lettuce leaves for a bold new kid on the block. Additionally, use arugula as a garnish for a pop of flavor.

3. Blueberries
Small in calorie (85 calories per one cup) and size... Mighty in nutrients! Blueberries have some of the most powerful content of antioxidants, known to reduce cell damage that may compromise health and increase the risk of chronic disease.

4. Bell Peppers
Red, yellow, orange, and green... The colors of peppers offer powerful antioxidants and nutrients at a low calorie cost, as an entire pepper averages to a minuscule calorie load of 25 to 40 calories!

5. Broccoli
Apart of the cabbage family, adding broccoli to meals or as a side increases the volume of food without accelerating calories. One cup of chopped broccoli offers merely 30 calories!

6. Cocoa Powder
Conquer that chocolate craving without feelings of guilt following its intake. With four calories per teaspoon, sprinkle cocoa powder onto almonds or mix into oatmeal, smoothies, and plain yogurt.

7. Cucumber
Mostly comprised of water, cucumber is low in calorie for a high quantity - one cucumber slice contains one calorie! Add cucumber into water for a refreshing beverage, throw into salad, or simply enjoy on their own.

8. Eggs
Previously discouraged for its cholesterol content, eggs are noteworthy based on their high protein and nutrient content without "egging" on calories. Your average egg contains 70 calories while offering six grams of protein!

9. Garlic
Though not commonly consumed on its own, adding garlic to food products truly amplifies the flavor. Sautee in a light drizzle of olive oil or cooking spray to bring old the flavor. Add to vegetables, pasta noodles and sauces, and salad dressings!

10. Greek Yogurt
Compared to traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is packed with protein - approximately 15 grams per five ounces. To keep calories in check, select a plain, nonfat yogurt without added sugars.

11. Jalapenos
Add some spice to your meal! One pepper contains approximately 4 calories and a chemical known as capsaicin, providing its hot properties. Capsaicin may aid in weight loss by speeding up metabolism along with unassociated benefits of headache relief.

12. Instant Coffee
Though mostly enjoyed as a warm, "pick-me-up" beverage, incorporating instant coffee into foods can simply awaken the taste buds. Sprinkle a teaspoon or two (4 calories per teaspoon) to yogurt, nuts, oatmeal, low-fat ice cream or anything else that may be desired for a coffee flavor. Further pair with cocoa powder and cinnamon to offer a light sweetness!

13. Popcorn
When it comes to weight loss, giving up snacks is a common approach to reduce calorie intake. However, popcorn is a low-calorie option that can satisfy that snacking midafternoon and nightly snack pang. Skip on the butter and salt and flavor with desired seasonings!

14. Pumpkin
Rich in vitamin A, potassium and fiber, this fall favorite offers 30 calories per cup (cubed) or 50 calories per half cup (pureed). With pumpkin acting so versatile, add into baked goods, smoothies, soups, pastas and other various meal options!

15. Quinoa
Quinoa has the versatility of rice but with the protein of an ounce of chicken, approximately 8 grams per one cup (chicken offers 7 grams per ounce). This balanced, low-calorie food is a superb plant-based protein, especially for individuals following a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

16. Oats
The high fiber content of oats offers feelings of fullness without packing on calories. A cup of cooked oats contains only 150 calories while supplying four grams of fiber. Skip out on added sugar and butter and flavor oats with fresh berries, bananas, apple slices and cinnamon.

17. Onion
Onions are low in calorie but offer big, bold flavor to meals and dishes. Though onions are not sought out after as a sole meal item, supplement virtually all savory meals and side dishes.

18. Orange
Known for their high immune-boosting vitamin C content, oranges are a citrusy addition to various products. Enjoy on their own or use freshly squeezed juice to naturally flavor dressings, sauces, or smoothies without amplifying calorie content.

19. Spaghetti Squash
Swapping out traditional carb-rich pasta noodles with spaghetti squash is a simple approach to reduce calories. Just be mindful of the sauces and toppings! Find inspiration with these 10 delicious guilt-free ways to eat spaghetti squash!

20. Spinach
The bold greenness of spinach contributes to its potent nutrient content. And despite its powerful antioxidant properties, spinach is low in calories, as one cup contains approximately seven calories! Use as a salad green or throw into casseroles, sauces and smoothies for added nutrients.

21. Shrimp
Whether fresh or frozen, indulging on shrimp can keep the body full without packing on calories (generally five calories per shrimp). Throw shrimp in salad, pair with sautéed veggies, or enjoy simply on their own for a protein-rich snack.

22. Tomatoes
Tomatoes are low in calorie but packed with nutrients such as potassium and lycopene. When choosing tomato products such as ketchup and pasta sauce, be weary on added sugar and salt to reduce total caloric and sodium content.

23. Tuna
Tuna is a protein-packed without the worry of packing on calories, as it generally supplies 70 calories per three ounces. For an even greater catch, choose a canned tuna in water rather than oil or salt.

24. Vegetable Broth
Adding vegetable broth to meals and side dishes amplifies flavor without accelerating calories. In fact, swapping out cooking oils with a tablespoon or two can dramatically cut calorie content - use to sauté vegetables, moisten chicken, or into mixed into mashed cauliflower. To keep sodium moderated, look for a low-salt alternative.

25. Zucchini
Like spaghetti squash, using spiralized zucchini noodles dramatically cuts carb content and calories, as one medium zucchini contains approximately 35 calories and only six grams of carbs! Even if lacking a spiralizer, chopped zucchini makes an excellent blank canvas to harness various flavors.

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