It's no secret that weight loss is all about calories in vs. calories out. But when it comes to counting those pesky little things, it can be hard to know where to start, especially when you're trying to cook healthy meals that are filling and satisfying.
Today we'll look at 13 high-volume, low-calorie foods that will help keep your belly full without putting a dent in your diet. We'll also give you some ideas for meals you can cook with them. Let's get started!
Volume eating is a way of eating that allows you to consume large portions of food while minimizing calorie intake. Different types of nutrients provide different numbers of calories. Volume eating prioritizes high-volume foods that will fill you up without providing a lot of calories.
Here are the two principles volume eating is based on:
Different macronutrients provide different amounts of calories per gram of food:
Here are 13 great high-volume, low-calorie foods that are surprisingly filling:
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, bok choy, lettuce, etc., are incredible high-volume food. There's a great number of meals you can make low-cal just by replacing some nutrient-dense ingredients with leafy greens. Such as swapping out half the rice in your sushi for spinach or cucumber or using lettuce wraps in place of high-carb tortillas or burger buns.
Leafy greens are also an excellent base for healthy, satisfying salads. Salads are a fantastic option for lunch or a light dinner, and it's easy to keep it interesting by combining the different ingredients you prefer. Aim to have at least half of your plate or bowl leafy greens, then 25% protein and 25% fiber-rich carbs. Don't go heavy on salad dressing, nuts, cheeses, and dried fruit. A drizzle of balsamic and olive oil is a great dressing option.
Cabbage is another fantastic ingredient for a good high-volume, low-calorie meal. It's high in water and fiber content, making it very filling. Cabbage can be used in various dishes, from stir-fries to soups to salads. And it’s not just for coleslaw anymore!
Cauliflower is one of the best high-volume foods you can find - it's perfect for cutting out carbs and can transform into many healthy meals! Cauliflower rice is a fantastic swap for high-carb white or brown rice. Cauliflower can become a low-carb pizza crust, mashed potatoes substitute, and even a vegetarian cauliflower steak.
Zucchini is another fantastic option to make a satisfying high-volume, low-calorie meal without sacrificing flavors. It's a vegetable beloved by the low-carb community as it can transform into zoodles or even lasagna sheets and help keep those cravings at bay.
Fish is one of the best foods that can keep you full longer. It is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids that both have a substantial effect on satiety. And it has been confirmed by research that the protein in fish may have an even more significant impact on fullness compared to other types of protein. Hence, fish is one of the best ingredients to use when cooking high-volume, low-calorie meals.
Chicken breast is one of the best proteins you can choose for a high-volume meal. It's low-fat, low-cal, and incredibly versatile when it comes to recipes.
Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils have an impressive nutritional profile, yet they are often overlooked. Legumes are full of fiber and protein, which makes them very filling, and they are relatively low-calorie, which makes them a perfect ingredient to base a high-volume meal around.
Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, etc., are full of water and fiber and can help you stay full longer. They are also sweet and can be a great alternative to some unhealthy sweet treats when those cravings hit you.
On top of that, all berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants, making them a perfect high-volume food to enjoy on a low-calorie diet!
Cottage cheese is a fantastic high-volume, low-calorie food that is also rich in protein. One serving (half a cup) of full-fat plain cottage cheese only contains around 100 calories.
Watermelon is almost 92% water which makes it a high-volume food. It is incredible at satisfying your sweet cravings and keeping you full for long periods.
Oatmeal is considered a high-volume food because it soaks up a lot of water and contains lots of fiber. It's an incredibly satisfying meal and is an excellent choice for a filling breakfast.