One of the most challenging aspects of weight loss is cutting back on calories. Many low-calorie foods can leave you feeling hungry and unfulfilled between meals, making it much more tempting to overeat and indulge.
Fortunately, plenty of healthy foods exist that are both filling and low in calories.
Here are 10 low-calorie foods that are surprisingly filling and you want to stock your house and office fridge with.
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein that can help curb cravings and promote weight loss.
Though the exact numbers vary between brands and flavors, a 2/3-cup (150-gram) serving of Greek yogurt typically provides about 130 calories and 11 grams of protein.
One study in 20 women examined how a high-protein yogurt snack affected appetite compared to unhealthy high-fat snacks like chocolate or crackers. Not only did the women who ate yogurt experience less hunger, but they also consumed 100 fewer calories at dinner than those who ate crackers or chocolate.
Meanwhile, in another study in 15 women, high-protein Greek yogurt helped reduce hunger and increase feelings of fullness compared to lower-protein snacks.
Berries — including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries — are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can optimize your health. Their high fiber content also boosts weight loss and reduces hunger. For example, 1 cup (148 grams) of blueberries supplies just 84 calories but packs 3.6 grams of fiber.
Berries are also a great source of pectin, a type of dietary fiber that has been shown to slow stomach emptying and increase feelings of fullness in human and animal studies. This could also help cut calorie consumption to aid weight loss.
One study noted that a 65-calorie afternoon snack of berries decreased calorie intake later in the day compared to a 65-calorie confectionery snack.
Eggs are extremely nutrient-dense, as they’re low in calories but rich in many vital nutrients. A single large egg has approximately 72 calories, 6 grams of protein and a wide array of important vitamins and minerals.
Studies suggest that starting your day with a serving of eggs can reduce hunger and boost fullness. In a study in 30 women, those who ate eggs for breakfast instead of a bagel experienced greater feelings of fullness and consumed 105 fewer calories later in the day.
4. Chia Seeds
Often hailed as a serious superfood, chia seeds pack a high amount of protein and fiber into a low number of calories. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds provides 137 calories, 4.4 grams of protein and a whopping 10.6 grams of fiber.
Chia seeds are especially high in soluble fiber, a type of fiber that absorbs liquid and swells in your stomach to promote feelings of fullness. In fact, some research observes that chia seeds can absorb 10 to 12 times their weight in water, moving slowly through your digestive tract to keep you feeling full.
Adding a serving or two of chia seeds to your daily diet can curb cravings and reduce appetite.
Fish is rich in protein and heart-healthy fats. For instance, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of cod provides over 15 grams of protein and under 70 calories.
Research points out that increasing protein intake can decrease appetite and reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger. What’s more, fish protein may be especially beneficial for reducing hunger levels and appetite.
One study evaluating the effects of beef, chicken and fish protein showed that fish protein had the greatest impact on feelings of fullness.
To cut calorie consumption even further, opt for lean fish like cod, flounder, halibut or sole over higher-calorie options like salmon, sardines or mackerel.
6. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a great source of protein and an excellent snack for those looking to lose weight. One cup (226 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese packs about 28 grams of protein and just 163 calories.
Multiple studies demonstrate that upping your protein intake from foods like cottage cheese can decrease appetite and hunger levels.
What’s more, it’s found that cottage cheese and eggs had similar effects on fullness in 30 healthy adults.