Low Calorie Foods
A well-balanced diet, along with a well-rounded exercise program, can help you shed pounds if you’re overweight and can help you maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. By sticking with whole foods, eating more fruits and vegetables and avoiding overly processed foods and unhealthy fats, you can automatically begin to cut calories in your meals.
Whole foods are healthy food items that are closest to their natural source and form. These foods aren’t processed or changed by manufacturing procedures, which often take away nutritional value, add calories and include unhealthy additives, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
A balanced diet includes whole grains, lean protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as some low-fat dairy foods and healthy fats. It’s usually not how much you eat that causes weight gain and related health problems, but what you eat. However, a low-calorie meal also involves portion control.
Breads and Spreads
When choosing bread items, focus on whole grains because they provide the most nutrition, according the Mayo Clinic. Avoid highly processed bread products that have had most of the nutrients removed from the grain. Also look for added sugar, fat and salt in the ingredients label and avoid such fillers and additives, suggests the Harvard School of Public Health.
Some healthier-looking breads are chock full of sugar, molasses or high-fructose corn syrup. Choose breads that are closest to the natural crop from which they came for optimal nutrition and lower calories. Avoid spreads that include saturated and trans fats. Use healthier oils or spreads, such as olive oil or peanut butter instead, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in nutritional value, and should fill half your plate at meals. Just focusing on eating more fruits and vegetables each day can help you lower your daily caloric intake. For example, opt for a spinach salad with tomato for lunch instead of a heavy meat sandwich, and eat more fruit, such as bananas, apples and oranges for breakfast and snacks.
Protein and Dairy
Protein is an essential part of any diet, but it can add extra calories to your meals, especially if you eat fatty or processed meats.
The Harvard researchers found that consuming any type of processed meat, however, including sausage, bacon or deli meats, was linked to a “42 percent higher risk of heart disease and a 19 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes.” Opt for all-natural and leaner cuts of meat, as well as fish, eggs, nuts and beans for daily protein intake. You can also get plenty of protein from low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat cheese and yogurt.