How Do I Choose the Best Low Calorie Foods?

Kelly Ferguson

Many people count and limit caloric intake to help lose or maintain weight, using low calorie foods as the main staples of the diet. This helps dieters consume less energy, commonly referred to as "calories in," and it also makes it easier to negate some calories by burning them with exercise, known as "calories out." Despite the fact that most diets are based on the sound principle of "calories in versus calories out," not all low calorie foods are as wise a choice as others. The nutritional content of the foods you eat is always an important consideration, and you must also learn to eat foods that facilitate your dieting habits and avoid foods that trigger cravings and overeating.

Oranges and other citrus fruits are filling yet low-calorie snacks.
Oranges and other citrus fruits are filling yet low-calorie snacks.

Look for high volume low calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and use these as a large portion of your diet. Eating a large volume of these types of foods will cause you to feel much fuller than if you had eaten a small portion of more calorie-dense foods. For example, if you reach for the large 100 calorie pack of carrots, you will be able to eat much more food and feel more satisfied than if you choose to eat a tiny 100 calorie pack of cookies instead, because the carrots will take up much more room in your stomach.

Avoid foods that trigger cravings.
Avoid foods that trigger cravings.

Try to also choose low calorie foods that still have plenty of nutritional content. In the example with the 100 calorie packs of carrots and cookies, although the calorie content is the same, the nutritional benefits of the carrots are much greater than those of the cookies. Also, eating the carrots will not cause as great of a blood sugar spike as the cookies would, which helps you avoid the "crashing" feeling and the urge to eat more sugary foods a short time later.

Avoiding foods that commonly trigger binges or cravings can be a very useful tactic. If, for instance, eating a single low calorie cookie causes you to want to eat the entire box, or worse, move on to higher calorie foods, then it might be a better idea to avoid that cookie in the first place and snack on something else. Some dieters keep a personal list of foods that will likely trigger a diet mishap and actively search out alternate options that satisfy a craving yet do not pose such a threat.

Strawberries are a low-calorie fruit.
Strawberries are a low-calorie fruit.

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