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13 High Volume Low Calorie Foods And Best Meals To Cook With Them

Trying to eat low-calorie meals that will keep you full? This list of the best high-volume, low-calorie foods will help satisfy your hunger without packing on the pounds!
13 High Volume Low Calorie Foods And Best Meals To Cook With Them
13 High Volume Low Calorie Foods And Best Meals To Cook With Them
Anna at SideChef
Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.
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Anna at SideChef
Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.
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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!

What Is Volume Eating

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:


  1. Food weight does not directly correlate with its calorie content.

  2. Calorie content directly depends on the macronutrient content.

Different macronutrients provide different amounts of calories per gram of food:


  • Protein - 4 calories per gram

  • Carbohydrates - 4 calories per gram

  • Dietary Fiber - 2 calories per gram

  • Fats - 9 calories per gram

  • Alcohol - 7 calories per gram

Benefits Of Volume Eating


  • Helps Stay Full Longer
    Consuming high-volume meals helps you stay full and satisfied. Most high-volume foods like fruits and vegetables are full of water and fiber and keep your stomach fuller without adding much to your daily calorie intake.
  • Manage Calories Without Counting Calories
    By focusing on leafy greens, vegetables, fresh fruits, and other low-calorie foods you can eat in a high volume with little impact on the total number of calories you consume per day. It makes tracking your calorie intake easier and less stressful.
  • Allows Guilt-Free Larger Portions
    If you are prone to "eating with your eyes" and feel deprived when your plate is not full, volume eating can help. Having a full bowl or plate of food in front of you can be a great psychological trick to stay on the right track.

Here are 13 great high-volume, low-calorie foods that are surprisingly filling:

1. Leafy Greens

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.

2. Cabbage

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!

Simple Cabbage and Egg Pie

Flavorful Cabbage with Ham

Killer DIY Kimchi

3. Cauliflower

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.

4. Zucchini

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.

Three Cheese Zucchini Eggplant Lasagna

Carrot and Zucchini Ribbons and Cilantro Pepita Pesto

Zucchini Noodles with Mini Turkey Meatballs

5. Fish

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.

6. Chicken Breast

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.

Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken with Parmesan Asparagus

Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken Skewers

Stuffed Chicken Breast with Lemon-Artichoke Pesto

Chicken Cutlets and Zucchini "Pasta"

Greek Chicken Salad with Pita Croutons

7. Legumes

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.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Four Pea Salad

Lentils and Split Peas Dhal

Spicy Mixed Beans and Tuna Salad

Romesco Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Lentils

8. Eggs

Eggs are an incredibly nutrient-dense food known to reduce appetite and promote weight loss. This makes eggs a perfect high-volume meal ingredient.

Ham and Egg Cups

Egg White Omelet

Egg Drop Soup

Chive Egg Cakes

9. Berries

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!

10. Cottage Cheese

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.

Easy Homemade Cottage Cheese

11. Watermelon

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.

12. Oats

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.

Easy Overnight Oats

13. Popcorn

Popcorn is one of the best high-volume, low-calorie snack that you can enjoy guilt-free.

The Best 5-Ingredient Popcorn Ever

Crunchy Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

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