If one of your big goals is to follow a healthy diet, consider filling up your kitchen — and your plate — with high-fiber, low-calorie foods. You can eat a lot of these foods, which will help you feel full, without taking in a lot of calories, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Foods that are lower in calories tend to also be lower in fat and sugar — these low-calorie foods promote weight-loss, since taking in fewer calories than you extend is how you lose weight. And fiber-rich foods will help you feel full, while also benefiting your digestion.
If you're looking to add more low-calorie, high-fiber foods to your meals and snacks, there are plenty of delicious, easy options available.
At the top of the list is fruit, which typically has 100 calories or less per serving, while also providing fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Take a look at some filling fruit options:
- Apples: A medium-sized apple has 95 calories and 25 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA.
- Bananas: A medium-sized banana has 105 calories and 27 grams of carbs, per the USDA.
- Pears: A medium-sized pear has 101 calories and 27 grams of carbs, per the USDA.
- Oranges: A navel orange has 69 calories and 17.6 grams of carbs, according to the USDA.
- Blueberries: In one cup of blueberries, you'll get 84 calories and 21.4 grams of carbs, according to the USDA.
Adults should aim to get 2 cups of fruit per day, according to the USDA 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
How to eat more fruit: Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop or in your fridge. You can also have fruit at mealtime. For example, top yogurt or cereal with berries or sliced bananas. Have fresh fruit salad for dessert — or, grill peaches with orange juice and ginger for a zesty and sweet capper to your meal.
Like fruit, vegetables are packed with nutrients. And their high water content and dietary fiber makes them filling options. Take a look at the calorie and fiber content of some readily available veggies:
- Brussels sprouts: A cup of boiled Brussels sprouts has 56 calories and 11.1 grams of carbohydrates, per the USDA.
- Sweet potatoes: A medium baked sweet potato has 103 calories and 23.6 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA.
- Spinach: A cup of raw spinach has 7 calories and 1.1 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA.
Each day, adults should aim to have 2.5 cups of vegetables, per the Dietary Guidelines.
How to eat more vegetables: Include a variety of vegetables in meals, such as baby carrots and cucumber slices for lunch and a green salad and roasted Brussels sprouts for dinner. Raw vegetables with low-calorie dips are filling snacks and portable lunch options. Green salads for a main course or on the side can fill you up without providing many calories. Add vegetables to scrambled eggs, an omelet or a breakfast burrito at breakfast, or in casseroles, sauces and stews at dinner, to make your meal bigger without adding many calories.
3. Beans and Legumes
Cooked legumes — beans, peas and lentils — are a nutritious low-calorie, high-fiber option. They're also an excellent source of plant-based protein, quite inexpensive and a versatile ingredient. Take a look at the nutritional information for some popular legumes:
- Lentils: One hundred grams of lentils has 116 calories and 20.1 grams of carbohydrates, per the USDA.
- Black beans: One hundred grams of this bean has 132 calories and 23.7 grams of carbs, according to the USDA.
- Pinto beans: A 100-gram portion of pintos has 143 calories and 26.2 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA.
Legumes are considered a subset of vegetables in the Dietary Guidelines, which recommends having 1.5 cups of them each week.
How to incorporate legumes in your diet: Feature beans as protein sources in vegetarian dishes, such as burritos bean burgers. Lentil and pea soups are filling meals that can be low-calorie. Add vegetables — such as celery, kale and onions — to make them higher in fiber and more filling, but not much higher in calories. Top salads with chickpeas and add black beans to tacos.
4. Whole Grains
Packed with fiber and high in protein, iron and B vitamins, whole grains provide a healthy, low-calorie addition to your diet. Whole grains to try include:
- Oatmeal: A cup of cooked oatmeal delivers 166 calories and 28.1 grams of carbohydrates, per the USDA.
- Quinoa: A cup of cooked quinoa has 222 calories and 39.4 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA.
- Whole-wheat bread: Two slices of whole-wheat bread has 161 calories and 27.3 grams of carbs, according to the USDA.
Aim to have 3 or more ounces of whole grains a day, per the Dietary Guidelines.
How to incorporate more grains in your diet: Start your day with whole-grain cereal like oatmeal. Use whole-grain bread, pitas or wraps for your lunchtime sandwich. Include a side of brown rice, wild rice or quinoa at dinner time. Swap out your usual pasta, pizza crust and tortillas for the whole-grain varieties.
Yogurt is a source of high-quality protein. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, and it has a thicker, creamier texture. Choose plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurt sweetened with sugar, which has extra calories and no extra nutrients. If you're looking to avoid calories, look for fat-free options.
Take a look at the caloric and fiber content of yogurt:
How to incorporate more yogurt in your diet: Try it with fruit or oatmeal as a nutritious, low-calorie breakfast or snack. Use it as a dip for vegetables, in place of sour cream with a baked potato or on top of spicy foods (think: chili). You can also eat it plain as a snack.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Eat More, Weigh Less?"
- USDA: "Apples"
- USDA: "Bananas"
- USDA: "Pears"
- USDA: "Oranges"
- USDA: "Blueberries"
- 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- USDA: "Brussels Sprouts"
- USDA: "Sweet Potatoes"
- USDA: "Spinach"
- USDA: "Lentils"
- USDA: "Black Beans"
- USDA: "Pinto Beans"
- USDA: "Cooked Oatmeal"
- USDA: "Quinoa Cooked"
- USDA: "Whole Wheat Bread"
- USDA: "Non-Fat Yogurt"
- USDA: "Nonfat Greek Yogurt"