Consuming fewer calories than you expend is essential for preventing weight gain. Having a list of low-calorie foods helps you plan your meals and snacks on a calorie-controlled diet. Choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods so that you stay nourished while limiting your calories, and consult a physician before starting any weight loss diet.
Soup can be a satisfying option for lunch or a snack. A can of chicken noodle soup has 62 calories, and a cup of minestrone soup has 82 calories. Broth-based soups are lower in calories than soups with cheese and cream, such as broccoli and cheese soup or clam chowder. You can also make your own low-calorie soup. Use low-sodium chicken broth, with 17 calories per cup, and add vegetables, such as onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes, and a source of lean protein, such as diced chicken breast.
Salad greens are very low in calories, with 7 calories in a cup of shredded lettuce. A 100-calorie salad can include a few cups of salad greens, additional raw vegetables and a source of lean protein. Try a salad with spinach leaves, red onion rings, cherry tomatoes and hard-boiled egg whites, which have 17 calories each. Another option is romaine lettuce with diced tomatoes and a quarter-cup of garbanzo beans. Avoid fatty additions, such as salami and full-fat cheese, and use a small amount of fat-free salad dressing or vinegar instead of full-fat dressing to prevent your salad from having too many calories.
Vegetables are low in calories, and consuming more of them can help prevent weight gain, according to University of Michigan Integrative Medicine. A cup of cooked eggplant has 35 calories. For a snack with no more than 100 calories, roast Brussels sprouts with garlic and balsamic vinegar or eat baked kale chips seasoned with low-fat Parmesan cheese and black pepper. For lunch, try pizza with a portobello mushroom for the crust and diced tomatoes and shredded, fat-free mozzarella cheese for toppings.
Low-fat sources of protein that are not high in calories include chicken breast, shrimp, turkey breast and egg whites. A 3-ounce portion of canned light tuna in water contains 73 calories. Have grilled shrimp or chicken breast, turkey breast slices on their own, or add vegetables to make low-calorie snacks, such as turkey breast with red pepper slices. Make tuna salad with fat-free Greek yogurt, diced water chestnuts, black pepper and Dijon mustard.
Non-fat cottage cheese contains 81 calories per cup. It provides calcium and protein, and is a convenient option for a snack or as part of a low-calorie lunch. Spread cottage cheese on celery sticks or cucumber slices. You can also add chives and garlic to cottage cheese to make a flavorful dip for vegetables such as red and green bell peppers or cauliflower and broccoli florets. Choose low-sodium cottage cheese if you are watching your salt consumption.