When it comes to losing weight, the number of calories you consume each day is a key factor. To shed pounds, you must take in fewer calories than your body burns on a daily basis. This doesn't mean you need to go on a starvation diet, though. In fact, a healthy diet that includes low-calorie yet filling foods will help you lose weight and keep you satisfied all day long.
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When it comes to filling foods, vegetable top the list because they are high in fiber and water, both of which help with satiation. Vegetables are naturally very low in calories, mostly fat-free and loaded with vitamins and minerals. One cup of sliced carrots, for example, contains just 50 calories and is fat-free. In addition, this serving of carrots is packed with 3 grams of fiber. In order to eat fewer calories but feel full at meal time, plan meals around your vegetable options instead of thinking of them as a side dish. Veggie-packed stir-fries and salads make for tasty main dishes, for example.
Like vegetables, fruits are packed with fiber and water to help fill you up. In addition, fruits are low in calories and high in essential vitamins and minerals. One medium apple, for instance, provides just 70 calories and 0 grams of fat, yet is packed with 3 grams of fiber and plenty of water to satisfy hunger. Fruits make the perfect snack because they are portable, sweet and provide energy. For low-calorie meals, be sure that half your plate is loaded with filling fruits and vegetables.
Whole grains are loaded with fiber and essential nutrients, and some options can be low-calorie as well. Whole-grain cereal, oatmeal and popcorn are some healthy choices that will fill you up without tacking on a bunch of calories. A bowl of oatmeal is the perfect way to start out your day, as a 1-cup cooked serving contains less than 150 calories yet provides 4 grams of filling fiber. For a filling snack, popcorn is a healthy option since it is naturally low in calories but high in fiber. A 3-cup serving of air-popped popcorn contain less than 100 calories and provides 3 grams of fiber.
Foods that are high in protein can help keep hunger at bay. Thus, high-protein, low-fat dairy products like milk, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt are nutritious options when watching your calorie intake. A 1-ounce piece of part-skim string cheese, for example, contains less than 90 calories but is packed with 7 grams of hunger-fighting protein. An 8-ounce serving of fat-free plain yogurt contains less than 130 calories and has 13 grams of protein. Cottage cheese is another satisfying snack, as 1/2-cup of the low-fat variety provides 80 calories and a whopping 14 grams of protein.