Understanding which foods in each food group are lowest in calories per serving can help you plan filling meals while on a weight-loss diet. Foods high in water or fiber tend to be lower in calories per gram. Nonstarchy vegetables often have the lowest overall calories per gram, but fruits, whole grains and lean protein foods can also be relatively low in calories.
Fruits and Vegetables
Lettuce has less than 10 calories per cup, and cucumber, cabbage, raw mushrooms, celery, radishes and red bell peppers have less than 25 calories per cup. You can eat a cup of summer squash, cauliflower, okra, asparagus, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts, raw broccoli or cooked mustard or turnip greens for less than 50 calories. A cup of starfruit provides just 41 calories, a cup of watermelon has 46 calories and a cup of strawberry halves contains 49 calories. Other fruits with under 75 calories per cup include apricots, cranberries, apples, peaches, honeydew, grapes, blackberries, papayas, nectarines, raspberries, grapefruit, mandarin oranges and pineapple.
Dairy and Eggs
Dairy products and eggs aren't as low in calories as fruits and vegetables, but you can include them in a low-calorie diet as long as you watch your serving sizes. Each egg has about 72 calories, as does an ounce of part-skim-milk mozzarella. Other dairy products with 100 calories or less per serving include nonfat yogurt made with artificial sweetener, goat cheese, cheddar, low-fat cottage cheese, skim milk, nonfat Greek yogurt, Brie, American cheese and Camembert. A serving of cheese is 1 ounce, a serving of yogurt or cottage cheese is 4 ounces and a serving of milk is 1 cup.
Grains and Cereals
Grains and cereals tend to be relatively higher in calories per 1-cup serving. Japanese soba noodles have 113 calories per cup, a cup of bulgur has 151 calories and a cup of wild rice has 166 calories. The same amount of whole-wheat pasta, couscous, rice noodles, barley or white rice provides less than 200 calories.
A 3-ounce serving of seafood can contain less than 100 calories. A serving of canned oysters has 58 calories, a serving of pollock provides 68 calories and a serving of cooked crayfish has 70 calories. Cod has 71 calories per serving, and rockfish has 76 calories per serving. Other lower-calorie seafood options include imitation crab, shrimp, monkfish, orange roughy, scallops, halibut, crab, pike and canned light tuna. Vegetarians will be glad to know that a 3-ounce serving of firm tofu has about 63 calories, and extra-firm tofu has about 77 calories per serving. For red meat lovers, ham can be as low as 77 calories per serving.
Juice isn't the best beverage choice if you're trying to limit your caloric intake, but vegetable juices usually have fewer calories than fruit juices. Fruit juice has a similar amount of calories to soda and often contain as much or more sugar, although it does provide some vitamins. A cup of apple juice has about 128 calories, and the same amount of orange juice provides approximately 112 calories. A cup of tomato and vegetable juice, in comparison, has just 53 calories.
- Fox News: 14 Foods Under 40 Calories
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Can Eating Fruits and Vegetables Help People to Manage Their Weight?
- The Washington Post: Fruit Juice Has Benefits, But Calories Outweigh Them, Experts Say
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rethink Your Drink
- USDA Nutrients Lists: Fruits and Fruit Juices
- USDA Nutrients Lists: Beef Products; Finfish and Shellfish Products; Lamb, Veal, and Game Products; Legumes and Legume Products; Pork Products; Poultry Products
- USDA Nutrients Lists: Cereal Grains and Pasta
- USDA Nutrients Lists: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
- USDA Nutrients Lists: Dairy and Egg Products