What has low calories that I can eat a lot of?

When looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, one of the most important things is watching your calorie intake. Eating foods that are low in calories allows you to eat more food while still staying within your daily calorie goals. The key is finding foods that are not only low calorie, but also high in nutrients and satisfying so you don’t feel hungry. There are many delicious low calorie options available that can be eaten in large portions to help keep you full.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and can be eaten in abundance on a weight loss diet. Things like leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers, berries, apples, citrus fruits, and melons are all excellent low calorie options. Here is a chart showing some common fruits and veggies and their calorie content per 1 cup raw:

Fruit/Vegetable Calories per 1 Cup
Spinach 7
Kale 8
Broccoli 31
Carrots 52
Cucumber 16
Bell Pepper 25
Strawberries 49
Blueberries 84
Apple 95
Grapefruit 97

As you can see, all of these fruits and veggies are under 100 calories per serving. You would have to eat a huge amount to consume a lot of calories. Aim to fill half your plate with low calorie fruits and vegetables at each meal. Not only are they low in calories, but they are also full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Lean Proteins

Lean proteins are another food group that can be enjoyed freely on a weight loss diet. Protein foods like fish, poultry, eggs, meat, and plant-based proteins are generally low in fat and calories while keeping you feeling satisfied. Some great high protein, low calorie options include:

  • Skinless chicken breast – 140 calories for 3 ounces
  • Whitefish – 100 calories for 4 ounces
  • Shrimp – 60 calories for 4 large shrimp
  • Egg whites – 25 calories for 1 large egg white
  • Beans – Less than 100 calories per 1/2 cup
  • Tofu – 50 calories per 1/2 cup

Aim for 4-6 ounces of lean protein at each meal. Getting enough protein will help you maintain muscle mass and a healthy metabolism while losing weight.

Whole Grains

Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, farro, and barley are excellent low calorie carbohydrate sources to include in your diet. Here are the calorie counts for some common whole grains (cooked):

Grain Calories per 1 cup
Brown rice 216
Quinoa 222
Oatmeal 166
Whole wheat pasta 174
Barley 193

Whole grains provide important nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. They have a low glycemic index, meaning they are digested slowly and help keep blood sugar stable. Shoot for 1/2 cup to 1 cup of whole grains with each meal.

Soups and Broths

Broths and blended soups are excellent low calorie foods that you can consume in large portions. Vegetable broth, chicken broth, tomato soup, butternut squash soup, mushroom soup, and other blended soups are very low in calories but high in nutrients.

For example:

  • 1 cup chicken broth – 46 calories
  • 1 cup vegetable broth – 8 calories
  • 1 cup blended tomato soup – 100 calories
  • 1 cup butternut squash soup – 115 calories

Sipping on broths and blended soups can help fill you up without adding a lot of calories. Focus on low sodium varieties to minimize bloating.


Air popped popcorn is a high volume, low calorie snack that you can eat a lot of on a diet. Per 3 cups popped (not including any toppings), popcorn only has about 93 calories. It is also high in fiber, which is beneficial for digestion and keeping you feeling full. Just be mindful of any high calorie toppings like butter, cheese, or oil. Stick to seasonings like garlic powder, chili powder, or nutritional yeast to keep popcorn low calories.

Non-Starchy Vegetables

In addition to leafy greens, there are many other non-starchy vegetables that are low in calories. Some examples include:

  • Asparagus – 27 calories per cup
  • Green beans – 31 calories per cup
  • Cabbage – 22 calories per cup
  • Zucchini – 19 calories per cup
  • Mushrooms – 16 calories per cup
  • Eggplant – 35 calories per cup
  • Celery – 16 calories per cup
  • Cauliflower – 25 calories per cup

These vegetables provide bulk and volume with minimal calories. Enjoy them steamed, roasted, or sautéed with herbs and spices.

Lean Dairy Foods

Dairy products can also be part of a low calorie diet. Some examples of low calorie dairy items include:

  • Plain Greek yogurt – 100 calories for 6 oz
  • Low fat cottage cheese – 82 calories for 1/2 cup
  • Low fat milk – 102 calories for 1 cup
  • Sugar free pudding – 60 calories for 1/2 cup
  • Laughing Cow cheese – 35 calories per wedge

Choose unsweetened low fat varieties and watch your portions when eating dairy foods. The protein will help keep you satisfied.


It is important to stay hydrated, but beverages can sneak in extra calories. Some low calorie beverage options include:

  • Water
  • Unsweetened tea
  • Black coffee
  • Sparkling water
  • Diet soda (in moderation)
  • Protein shakes with water
  • Broths

Avoid beverages like juice, regular soda, sweet tea, alcohol, sports drinks, specialty coffee drinks, and other sugary drinks as these provide excess calories without any nutritional benefit.


Don’t forget about all the flavorful seasonings and condiments that have little to no calories:

  • Herbs – basil, oregano, cilantro
  • Spices – cinnamon, paprika, cumin, ginger
  • Seasonings – garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder
  • Vinegars – balsamic, red wine, rice vinegar
  • Non-creamy dressings and sauces – salsa, mustard, hot sauce
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Lemon/lime juice

Use herbs, spices, vinegars, mustards, hot sauces, and other seasonings liberally to add lots of flavor without calories. Stay away from creamy, sugary, or oily dressings and sauces.

Putting it All Together

Eating a diet with plenty of low calorie fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, broths, and seasonings will allow you to create fulfilling meals and eat satisfying portions while keeping calories low overall. Here are some ideas for delicious low calorie meals:

  • Breakfast – Oatmeal made with low fat milk, berries, and cinnamon
  • Lunch – Big salad with greens, chicken breast, berries, beans, balsamic dressing
  • Dinner – Stir fry made with broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, shrimp, and brown rice
  • Snacks – Apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter; plain Greek yogurt with blueberries

Focus on getting protein, fiber, and nutrients at each meal to stay energized and fight cravings throughout the day. Stay hydrated with water and unsweetened beverages. Measure portions of calorie-dense foods like nuts, cheese, grains and dressings to keep calories in check. With some planning ahead and healthy swaps, you can create a satisfying low calorie diet with plenty of foods you can eat a lot of.


Following a low calorie diet doesn’t mean you have to go hungry. There are many delicious foods you can eat in large portions to help you feel full while losing weight. Fill up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, broths and seasonings. Limit high calorie beverages, dressings, sauces, oils and sugar-laden foods. Plan ahead and focus on getting nutritious low calorie foods at each meal and snack. With some creativity and commitment to eating nourishing foods that you can eat a lot of, you can reach your weight loss goals and enjoy your new healthy lifestyle.

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