When you’re trying to lose weight, one of the most important things to keep in mind is how to fill up on low-calorie foods. This way, you can eat enough food to feel satisfied without taking in too many calories. There are plenty of filling foods out there that are low in calories, so you don’t have to resort to eating unhealthy junk food just because you’re trying to watch your figure. In this blog post, we’ll list some of the best and most satisfying low-calorie foods out there. So if you’re looking for a few healthy options that will help keep your hunger at bay, read on!
Low calorie filling foods... what a divine combination!
We have always been told that to lose weight we have to eat less and move more, but choosing the right low calorie foods, that are filling (yet have all of the nutrition needed) is a key step to ensure we embark on a sustainable and healthy journey.
While all macronutrients can help with hunger, they all do so in different ways; while carbohydrates can provide us with a quicker font of energy and fiber keeps us fuller for longer, eating protein is the ultimate satiating macronutrient, as it reduces the level of ghrelin (aka the hunger hormone), making us feel less hungry.
It is true though, that at different times of the day, with different needs and calorie budgets left (and different tastes in food too), we need to mix things up, so here is a list of low calorie foods that are part of different macronutrient groups, but are all filling.
Here's a list of 30+ low calorie filling foods that are easy to find and add to most diets!
- Low Calorie Filling Foods [Infographics]
- 30+ Low Calorie Filling Foods
- 1 - Egg
- 2 - Potatoes
- 3 - Cottage Cheese
- 4 - Berries
- 5 - Mushrooms
- 6 - Oats
- 7 - Legumes
- 8 - Carrots
- 9 - Radishes
- 10 - Spinach
- 11 - Cauliflower
- 12 - Boneless skinless chicken breast
- 13 - Soup
- 14 - Apples
- 15 - Tea
- 16 - Watermelon
- 17 - Zucchini
- 18 - Coffee
- 19 - Broccoli
- 20 - Peppers
- 21 - Cantaloupe
- 22 - Yogurt
- 23 - Fish
- 24 - Chia Seeds
- 25 - Asparagus
- Wrap Up: Low Calorie Filling Foods
Low Calorie Filling Foods [Infographics]
30+ Low Calorie Filling Foods
1 - Egg
Eggs have been called a super protein for some time now and it’s not hard to see why: they are nutrient-dense (meaning they are rich in nutrients while being low in calories) and offer all 9 essential amino acids.
An egg offers 6 grams of proteins, together with many minerals and vitamins, all for about 72 calories, definitely crowning them the Queen of low calorie foods!
Different studies have been conducted and some show how starting the day with an egg can make one feel full for longer and reduce hunger; in addition to this, other studies focussing on protein content, showed how having a breakfast rich in them could decrease the calories eaten during the day by reduced snacking, slower emptying of the stomach, and as mentioned above, reduce the levels of ghrelin (also known as the hunger hormone).
As many of the nutrients and vitamins are found in the yolk, do not toss that away as many do; unfortunately, like many other foods, eggs are part of the list of healthy foods with an (undeserved) bad reputation.
Related recipe: Egg Curry Recipe [with video]
2 - Potatoes
This is a vegetable that unfortunately is so highly associated with an unhealthy dish that is completely often dismissed from diets.
Potatoes offer fiber and also some proteins and choosing the right cooking method is essential for enjoying this tuber as part of a balanced diet most days; boiling or roasting potatoes are excellent ways to cook them.
Studies conducted to compare the satiety level offered by multiple foods, including brown rice amongst others, ranked potatoes at the top of the list with people claiming they felt still satiated and full two hours after eating a baked potato.
For a quite low calorie amount of 58 calories per half a cup (75g), potatoes are part of not only the filling foods list... but also the versatile one!
When cooking them, try keeping the skin on and enjoy all of the vitamins, fiber, and nutrients potatoes have to offer.
- Creamy Potato Salad [This recipe has the added benefit of containing many low calorie foods on this list, some of which high in fiber and protein]
- Easy Potato Curry
- Mashed Potato with Leek
3 - Cottage Cheese
This versatile high-protein cheese is an excellent choice when looking for food that is low in calories, tasty, and satiating.
One cup (about 226g) of this delicious dairy product contains a great amount of protein (28g!) and not too many calories, depending on the type chosen. Cottage cheese, either full-fat or low-fat is a relatively low calorie choice, so it is important to read the label to see what else has been added to the low calorie one to make an informed decision.
As proteins reduce hunger levels, cottage cheese is an easy choice as it can be eaten as a snack or served with some vegetables as part of a meal... this is indeed a filling food for any time of the day!
Curiously, one study found that some people found eggs and cottage cheese to be equally satiating, and both make this low calorie foods list!
4 - Berries
Berries are known for being rich in antioxidants, but they are also rich in vitamins and minerals while having a high water content. Berries though, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, are also rich in fiber (and therefore a filling food choice!) and have low calories.
Many diets focus on increasing fiber content to reduce hunger (fiber keeps you full for longer) and assist with weight loss.
Their high fiber content also boosts weight loss and reduces hunger. One of the most known types of fiber is pectin, which helps decrease the speed at which the stomach empties and increases how full one feels; this dietary fiber is found greatly in berries, making these sweet treats a good addition to most diets, as they may help lose weight by reducing the calories consumed.
Related recipe: Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes
5 - Mushrooms
Mushrooms are a very low calorie choice [and high in water content] while being a great source of nutrients, such as Vitamin D, antioxidants, and zinc.
Mushrooms have a great texture and are often used as a substitute for meat products because of it; they are also very low in calories, at only 15 per cup (70 g). This fungus is a great example of a low carb vegetable!
~~ Interested in increasing your veggie consumption without exaggerating with carbohydrates? The 18 Best Low-Carb Vegetables | Popular, Versatile, and Easy to Cook and Integrate into Most Diets
6 - Oats
Oats are the King (or Queen!) of breakfast!
Incredibly filling and extremely versatile, oats have very high fiber content and soak liquid very easily, meaning they take even longer to pass through the digestive system, making one feel fuller for a lengthier amount of time, giving them a very well deserved spot on this filling foods list.
Oats can be served in uncountable ways, hot or cold, cooked in plain water or with milk (dairy or non-dairy!), and flavored with pretty much anything, from nuts to honey, coconut shavings, or cinnamon spices… it’s impossible to get fed up!
Oats can be prepared the night before (ie: overnight oats) or in very few minutes in the morning, and even baked to have on the go in the form of biscuits!
Oats are not low calorie per se when looking at the dry amount, but considering how much liquid they soak and how much control one has on the way they are prepared, it means a prepared bowl of this morning special can be as low calorie or high-calorie as one needs, prefers and plans.
Related recipe: Oat Cookies
7 - Legumes
Legumes, such as lentils, are a great choice when looking for filling foods, as they are a great source of proteins and fiber, both known for being very satiating.
Lentils are very versatile, as they are available in different colors, cooking times, and consistencies once ready, so they can be easily added to stews, casseroles, or curries!
Legumes come in many formats, some more and some less low calorie, but they are extremely filling and adding them in moderate portions to meals doesn't add many calories, while making the meal very filling.
8 - Carrots
Carrots are not only low in calories, with only 53 calories per cup (128g), but also very tasty and versatile, as they can be prepared in many different ways and eaten raw or cooked, like boiled, roasted, sautéed, amongst others.
This vegetable is not only tasty and low in calories, but it is also rich in Vitamins, especially A, which it is famous for and necessary for proper vision.
9 - Radishes
With only 19 calories per cup (116g), it is easy to see why this crunchy and spicy vegetable is a great salad bulker!
Radishes are not only easy to add to salads, but they also last well in the fridge and are quite affordable.
A low calorie option that not everyone appreciates because of its decisive taste, if unsure, try mellowing down its flavor with fresh tomatoes in a rich mixed salad... you may like it more than expected!
Related Recipe: Peppers, Feta and Baby Leaves Salad
10 - Spinach
Spinach leaves are extremely filling and versatile: use them fresh to bulk up a wrap or salad, or add them to sauces, stews, or curry!
This leafy green is not only low in calories, with only 7 per cup (30g), it is also very rich in vitamins and nutrients, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin B-9 (folate), and Vitamin K.
Related Recipe: Palak Paneer
11 - Cauliflower
One cup (100g) of cauliflower has only 25 calories and, because of its firm consistency, it is not a surprise that in the past few years it has become a very popular low calorie and low-carb substitute for other foods that are higher in carbohydrates, such as potatoes or rice.
Cauliflower is an excellent font of Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium and it is easy to add to most diets, as it can be simply boiled and served with a bit of olive oil instead of potatoes, or it can be added to curries or stews to have a larger portion without too many calories.
Being part of the low calories food group, while having a high fiber and water content [all with low carbs], this easy to cook vegetable is a great all-rounder, being used in many cuisines all over the world.
12 - Boneless skinless chicken breast
Chicken breast is a staple for many, probably because it is relatively low in calories while being quite filling, all while being very versatile and easy to cook.
3 ounces (86g) of boneless and skinless chicken breast have only 142 calories but a whole 20g of proteins, which can keep one full for quite some time!
Chicken can be grilled, roasted, or poached (among others) and can be served either hot or cold, making it easy to add to a stew or sauce, but also a salad or wrap.
With no carbs and high protein content, this versatile lean cut of meat makes the list of favorite foods of most!
- Baked Chicken Kabobs
- Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Breast With Creamy Filling
- Easy Chicken Curry
- Grilled Chicken Burger with Tarragon
13 - Soup
Soup is a great (low calorie and filling) way to start a meal, but it is important to choose wisely!
It is mandatory to select lighter, either broth or vegetable-based soups, that do not have added cream or butter – not because these are bad for you (in moderation), but because if you’re looking for a filler that doesn’t add too many calories, it is better to skip those, and look for one with high water content and plenty of fiber from vegetables [or proteins, if you are adding some chicken].
There are many options of soups full of fiber, and these can be either chunky or smooth, spicy or mild, of one or multiple vegetables… the sky is the limit!
14 - Apples
One cup (125g) of apples has only 57 calories while being very filling as it has almost 3 grams of dietary fiber and a lot of water in its composition.
Apples are a great and easy fruit to add to most diets, as there are many varieties, with different flavors, and can be found in different sizes and budgets. This great fruit can be eaten on the go, but it is also a great addition to yogurt, porridge, or smoothies.
Additionally, while it is quite sweet in taste, an apple only affects blood sugar levels moderately, as its sugar is fructose [coming from the fruit]; being rich in fiber, means that the sugar is absorbed slowly.
15 - Tea
Yes, tea is not food but liquids are a great way of filling up your stomach… when chosen wisely!
It is important to choose the right drink, as prepacked drinks can be full of sugars and calories, so, if you fancy something different than water, perhaps brew your cup and select some different flavors of tea.
Some teas, such as lemon or berry flavored, for example, are great also cold, while hot teas can be flavored with a very little sweetener, sugar, or honey, while black tea can be softened with a dash of milk.
If you can, reduce the amount of sugar you use over time, till you do not use any at all.
Related recipe: Cutting Chai
16 - Watermelon
Half cup (76g) of watermelon contains only 23 calories and this fruit is not only rich in fiber and water content (like the name suggests), it is also a great option for a sweet treat!
Watermelon can be eaten as it is, fresh, as a dessert, or as an afternoon snack, but it is also a good choice when looking to prepare a more exotic salad with some feta and mint leaves.
While watermelon is usually safe for people with diabetes, it is recommended it is eaten alongside foods that contain plenty of fiber, proteins and healthy fats.
17 - Zucchini
Half cup of zucchini (62 g) has just over 10 calories… all while being extremely versatile!
Zucchini (or courgettes) are a summer squash that comes with a very delicate flavor; this vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked, although it is important it is still firm to the touch and not acidic in flavor, so ensure you select very fresh zucchini.
In addition to its incredible versatility, zucchini is also a great source of Vitamin C, dietary fiber, and potassium, while being low in carbs and low in calories.
18 - Coffee
Just like tea, simple coffee comes with a nearly inexistent calorie count (Lower than low calorie!).
This easy to prepare (and available nearly everywhere) drink can be enjoyed hot or cold and flavored with dairy or non-dairy milk, and sweetened with syrups, sugar, honey, or sweetener… just ensure everything is done in moderation; try adding as few extras as possible and lowering the amount of those as you go… but also try not to overdo it with the coffee itself!
19 - Broccoli
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable (like Brussel sprouts and cauliflower) and is one of the most vitamin and nutrient-rich vegetables one can add to a diet!
One full cup (91g) of broccoli has more than 100% the amount of Vitamin C that most need in one day while only containing 31 calories!
This vegetable, like many other vegetables on this list, is also extremely versatile, as it can be eaten as a simple side dish, dressed with a bit of salt and oil, or added to sauces and stews to bulk them up without adding too many calories.
20 - Peppers
Peppers are available in a great selection of colors, flavors, sizes… there’s a type that works just fine for most recipes!
Bell peppers have only 46 calories per cup (149g) and are extremely tasty and easy to prepare, as these can be eaten either cooked or raw.
This low calorie vegetable is also low in carbs, rich in fiber, and can be added to many foods, from soups to stews, salads, traybakes, and more.
21 - Cantaloupe
With only 27 calories per half cup, melons are a great treat, rich in water content and low in carbs.
This fruit has anti-inflammatory properties, as it is rich in phytonutrients, which is a natural chemical that helps protect plants [and plant-based foods] from trees, such as fungi, bugs and germs.
22 - Yogurt
Natural full-fat yogurt is a great addition to most meals, either savory or sweet.
Plain yogurt is a low calorie food, that is also low in carbs, and high in proteins.
80% of the proteins in yogurt are caseins, an insoluble milk protein that helps increase the absorption of minerals like phosphorus and calcium by the body, all while promoting low blood pressure.
23 - Fish
Fish is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart.
A 3-ounce (85g) serving of cod, for example, contains nearly 15 grams of protein and only 70 calories.
According to several studies, such as one available on PubMed.Gov, increasing protein intake can reduce appetite and ghrelin levels, the hormone that drives hunger.
Related recipe: Baked Panko Parmesan Crusted Cod
24 - Chia Seeds
Chia seeds, recognized as a major superfood, pack a lot of protein and fiber into a small amount of calories.
Chia seeds provide 137 calories, 4.4 grams of protein, and a whopping 10.6 grams of fiber in a 1-ounce (28g) serving.
Chia seeds are particularly high in soluble fiber, which absorbs liquid and expands in your stomach to give you a feeling of fullness; so adding a serving or two of chia seeds to your regular diet can help you control your appetite and manage your cravings.
25 - Asparagus
Asparagus is a blooming vegetable that comes in various colors, including green, white, and purple.
Asparagus comes in a range of colors and contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory plant components.
There are many more foods that are satiating yet low in calories; please find below a few more that are versatile, easy to prepare, or ideal to snack on:
- Popcorn: Although you have to ensure you do not overdo it on the seasoning and butter, this is a great snack, easy to prepare, and ideal for the office when meal prepping.
- Lean Meat: Whether you are eyeing some pork tenderloin or a lean cut of beef, rest assured that high protein foods are filling, as they take longer to digest.
- Celery: Rich in water content and fiber, celery is great for bulking sauces and stews, as well as salads or just to munch on.
- Cucumber: Full of water and fiber, it is not only filling, it can also help with constipation.
- Kiwi: One medium kiwi contains only 42 calories while being rich in Vitamins K and C, fiber, potassium, and folate.
- Tomatoes: Excellent for soups, sauces, and salads, this fruit [yes, not one of the vegetables I am afraid!], is available in multiple varieties, sizes, and shapes, to satisfy any need and taste.
- Wild Rice: Half cup of cooked wild rice has less than 100 calories, making it an excellent substitute for recipes calling for white rice.
- Squash: A great substitute for spaghetti [spaghetti squash], this vegetable is also great roasted in salads, or blended in creamy soups.
- Prawns: Easy to add to salads, wraps, or pastas, prawns are rich in proteins, easy to cook and low in calories.
- Bananas: Often overlooked because of their high sugar content, bananas are actually very filling, due to their high amount of potassium, fiber, magnesium and Vitamin B. Ensure you choose bananas that are not too ripe and you will be good to go!
More recipes that use low calorie filling foods:
- Chicken and Mushroom Hot Pot
- Tuna Green Bean Pasta
- Egg Fried Rice
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Banana Pancakes Without Milk
- Chicken Tikka Masala
- 5-Ingredient Banana Bread
- Butter Chicken
Wrap Up: Low Calorie Filling Foods
- It is important to make sure you are eating sufficient low calorie foods in order to maintain a healthy weight.
- There are many options out there for filling, low calorie meals that won’t leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. From zucchini pasta with garlic and chili sauce to broccoli soup, these 20 best low calorie foods will help fill your diet while maintaining the caloric intake you need to lose weight or maintain a healthy figure.
- Remember not all calories count equally so it's worth checking the nutritional information on any food before adding it into your meal plan.
Related articles to low calorie filling foods:
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