In order to lose weight you need to take in fewer calories then you burn off during exercise. Even people who never count calories are often aware of the numbers. So what can a person feel confident about snacking on without sabotaging her diet? “All food aside from water has calories,” says iFit nutritionist Megan Ostler. “But there are nearly 0 calorie foods.” Skipping meals only leads to hunger and snacking later on. Starving yourself isn’t going to give you a flatter belly. Ostler likes to use nearly 0 calorie foods (basically anything less than 25 calories) to add bulk to every meal without adding tons of calories. Incorporate these waistline-friendly foods into your day.
There is no food more upfront about itself than watermelon: it’s about 92% water. Eating it keeps you hydrated and studies show that eating foods high in water can help people feel more satisfied on fewer calories. Just ½-cup of the refreshing fruit is 25. Same goes for cantaloupe. Watermelon fresh off the rind is our favorite way to eat the fruit but it can also be a tasty way to sweeten up water. Try it savory, too. Mix chunks of watermelon with crumbled feta cheese, mint leaves and a dash of olive oil.
The veggie version of watermelon is cucumber. It’s high in water, which helps your stomach feel full, and signals your brain not to binge on cookies. Think of munching on some cukes as another way of drinking a glass of H2O. There’s 20 calories in half a cucumber. We like dipping them in low-fat Greek yogurt that’s been spiced up with dried oregano. Mix sliced cucumbers will fresh dill, red onions and touch of low-fat sour cream for a refreshing side dish or add-on to homemade chicken tacos.
Red, yellow and orange bell peppers are a sweet and crunchy vegetable that provides 240 percent of the recommended daily vitamin C. They’re loaded with fiber and one entire pepper has 31 calories. Cut it into sticks for dipping in hummus or stuff half with quinoa and lentils to deliver protein. Peppers used to make us feel gassy until we tried them roasted. The heat really brings out the flavor while reducing burps.
Berries make a great, sweet add-on to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies and cereal. You can even have them for dessert! There’s no replacement for chocolate but berries are bursting with natural sweetness and you can eat way more of them without worrying about the scale. For example, one cup of slices strawberries is only 50 calories. All berries – blueberries, raspberries and blackberries – are high in polyphenols, micronutrients that combat cellular stress by slowing down and blocking the inflammatory response in the body. “Studies suggest raspberries may actually assist in weight loss because they contain compounds that could increase the production of leptin, the appetite suppressing hormone,” says Dr. Luiza Petre, MD, director of the Medi-Weightloss Clinics.
We love things that crunch. Chips are totally processed and unhealthy but there’s a nutrient-filled veggie that offers a comparable bite: celery! There are only 6 calories in each stalk along with vitamin K, vitamin A, folate and potassium. Plus you can consume a fairly high volume of celery without the risk of weight gain. Dip them in salsa or a zingy, homemade yogurt sauce. Old-fashioned ants on a log (with organic peanut butter) is totally cool to eat as an adult. Swap out raisins for chopped dates.