It’s everyone’s dream to be at their physical best. Nutrition plays a big part in enhancing your athleticism. An active lifestyle, exercise routine, and healthy food are essential in maintaining your peak physical conditions. Look good and feel good, right?
Your diet inevitably makes or breaks your progress, affecting your energy levels and how bloated you feel. Each food group affects your body differently and will satiate you for different lengths.
The number of calories burned per workout is often overestimated. As they say, you can’t outrun a bad diet. It is essential to avoid taking in more energy than what is exhausted, or you’ll gain back all the weight you’ve been trying to lose.
Calories: A Quick Breakdown
A calorie is a unit of measurement defined by the amount of heat needed to raise a gram of water’s temperature by one degree Celsius. It seems kind of unrelated, I know. But calories are the amount of energy you in-take to your body when you eat anything with nutrition and macronutrients.
When the word “calorie” is used, people usually talk about the number of kilocalories (kcal) a food has. Scientifically speaking, one large kcal should equal 1,000 small calories. Unfortunately, almost no one sticks to this rule and instead uses kcal and cal interchangeably. You’ll find these calorie and kcalorie numbers on nutrition labels, generally behind food products.
Since calories are consumed to provide energy in the form of heat to keep us alive, we must eat a certain amount of calories to sustain ourselves. Eat too many, and we risk gaining weight. All calories, however, vary. A candy bar, for example, generally has 150 calories. Still, you can get the exact servings of energy from 30 cups of lettuce. Understanding what a calorie is and why we count them can help you make better dietary decisions.
Zero Calorie Snacks
What are zero-calorie snacks? How were they introduced into the market?
Tasty snacks that have no calories sound too good to be true. And it kind of is. Still, health experts have identified various treats that supposedly provide lesser amounts of calories and require higher energy levels to digest. For those looking to be healthier versions of their current selves, zero-calorie snacks are the right way to go.
The low-fat approach became a trend promoted by physicians, the federal government, the food industry, and the popular health media after the 1980s. Weirdly enough, in the same decades that the low-fat approach assumed ideal status, Americans were getting fatter, leading to an obesity epidemic.
Unfortunately, the obesity pandemic still plagues most of modern America. While this does suck for the general population, we’re here to help those trying to lose weight with this list of top 10 zero-calorie snacks.
Misconceptions about Zero Calorie Snacks
The nutrition world is rife with misinformation, leading to public confusion, mistrust of health professionals, and poor dietary choices. Dieting would definitely be a breeze if we opted to restrict our intake of calorie-free foods every single day. Unfortunately, the only zero-calorie food in existence is water, coffee, and diet beverages. It wouldn’t be wise to think that you are somehow fooling your body and reducing caloric intake.
These food choices marketed as “zero calories” are going to help you maintain your calorie balance. There are a plethora of great benefits to eating them. For one, fruits and vegetables are excellent foods to incorporate into your diet. They are rich in fiber and are loaded with immense nutritional value.
These “nutrient-dense” foods are usually plant-based, and they contain relatively fewer calories. Plant-based food (i.e., fruits and vegetables) can be as filling as higher-calorie foods, with far fewer calories and often a lot more volume.
Always check with a nutritionist/dietitian the appropriate variety of food you should be consuming. The list below is not for everyone and should not replace full meals if advised against by professionals.
Low-dense calorie foods rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals can significantly improve your health and help shed off a few pounds. Try the delicious options listed below to healthily fuel your body.
The Top 10 Zero Calorie Snacks
Apple Slices and Peanut Butter
You might’ve heard about apples as the main ingredient of a very classic dessert, apple pie. Now, the pie is definitely not a low-calorie diet. However, another option that tastes just as good as the fruit itself. Apples are both filling and healthy on their own, eat them as is or pair it with a low-calorie dipping and you have a guilt-free snack you can munch on almost indefinitely. With its decadent flavor, it’s unbelievable to think that a small serving of apple with 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of peanut butter only has 267 calories.
The secret to an apple’s low-caloric value is because of its high water content. Apples hold a lot of water. In fact, a medium-sized apple is made up of 86% water. Water-rich foods are pretty filling, which then leads to reduced caloric intake overall. People also use peanut butter packed with protein and the most filling of the three macronutrients (i.e., protein, carbs, and fat). Studies reveal that incorporating peanut butter into your diet can significantly reduce hunger pangs, consequently maintaining healthy body weight.
However, these are full of fat and calories, so take caution in using them as additives. If you are a massive fanatic of peanut butter but find that it has too many calories for your taste, then don’t worry. In that case, we recommend trying out PB2 peanut butter. It’s a low-calorie alternative with the same convincing peanut butter flavor.
The advisable peanut butter to use is those that contain only peanuts and salt. It is essential to use the recommended serving size of 2 tablespoons (32 grams) to avoid excess calorie consumption. Like people say, “an apple a day will keep the doctor away”—provided it’s thrown hard enough. Stave the doctor and calories out of your life by biting on an apple!
This is a real familiar treat for movie-goers. Still, little do people know that it also has a high fiber content making it a very filling low-calorie treat. Interestingly, a cup of air-popped popcorn only has 31 calories and 1.2 grams of fiber which is about 5% of the average dietary fiber needs.
Fiber does a great job in slowing down the digestive process. This leads to a sense of fullness and stabilized blood sugar levels, thus inhibiting cravings. This was proven in a study of 35 people who were observed to feel fuller and more satisfied with 100 calories of popcorn than 150 calories of potato chips.
However, it’s best to remember that all these benefits are found in air-popped popcorn. Many ready-made options are chalked-full of trans fats, artificial flavorings, sodium, and refined sugar, which increases the calorie content of the snack.
Low-Calorie Energy Spheres
These fun bite-sized snacks consist mainly of nutrient pack ingredients such as dried fruit, nuts, and oats. Munching on these energy balls rich in fiber and protein helps maintain your health goal desired weight. This snack is effortless to make; all you really need to do is pulse the following ingredients in a food processor:
- 1/4 cups or 32 grams of cashew nuts
- 3/4 cups or 107 grams of almond nuts
- 1 & 1/2 cups or 240 grams of seedless dates
- 1/3 cups or 30 grams of coconut flakes
- 1 tablespoon or 15 ml of coconut oil at room temperature
- 1/4 cup or 16 grams of cocoa powder
Roll the mixture into balls and refrigerate. This makes it a convenient, filling, and guilt-free snack. The calorie content for energy balls varies greatly depending on the ingredients being used and the size made. If the measurements are followed precisely like those mentioned above, one energy ball usually has a hundred calories.
Greek Yogurt with Assorted Berries
Garnishing natural and unsweetened Greek yogurt with various berries is a refreshing and healthy option to prevent hunger pangs while nourishing your body. Greek yogurt is usually used as a base for fruit smoothies as an alternative to either juice or milk. In dishes, it is also utilized to marinate meat like chicken and pork.
Although regular yogurt has fewer calories, Greek yogurt is an excellent choice for those opting to benefit from a low-calorie diet with more protein and less sugar. Greek yogurt is loaded with essential proteins and vital nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Add that with berries with high fiber content, and you’ve got yourself a healthy little snack.
A 7-ounce (200-gram) serving of plain Greek yogurt covered with half a cup (70 grams) of blueberries delivers 180 calories. But this would be, in large part, mostly protein. By comparison, a 100 gram serving of Vanilla ice cream carries 208 calories and is primarily fat.
The sweetness of bananas makes an excellent after-meal snack. It’s easy to see why people think that too many bananas can be overly indulgent. Still, these fruits are incredibly healthy and nutritious.
Calorie-wise, bananas have a very high fiber content. A medium-sized banana provides approximately 12% of the recommended daily intake, with just 105 calories. This makes the fruit an easily digestible snack. Pairing bananas with a low-calorie dip like PB2 peanut butter make it definitely guilt-free for sweet tooths.
A tiny banana serving with 2 tablespoons (32 grams) of almond butter only consists of 280 calories. In contrast, 100 grams of chocolate cake contains 370 calories.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are nutritious edible seeds that are usually roasted before consumption. They are a staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine and are enjoyed as healthy snacks.
These munchies may be small, but pumpkin seeds are powerhouses of nutrients and multiple health benefits. These seeds are rich in protein, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, and potassium, crucial for musculoskeletal development. They also contain sufficient vitamin B2, iron, calcium, beta-carotene, and folate, essential nutrients used to synthesize vitamin A.
Pumpkin seeds are relatively easy to prepare. Start by toasting them at home and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After that, you can then bake the seeds at 300℉ (150℃) for 40–50 minutes while occasionally stirring until it appears golden brownish. Half a cup or 32 grams of pumpkin seed servings delivers about 143 calories.
While 32 grams might not seem like a lot, you’ll feel satiated before you finish the bowl.
Oats are excellent additions to your pantry if you’re aiming to healthily lose weight. These delicious treats are not only low in calories, but they are also rich in protein and fiber to ward off hunger pangs. You can use them as ingredients for various others.
It is fun to eat oats and even easier to prepare them in several ways. People usually eat them for breakfast as porridge (oatmeal),
here’s how you make it:
- Half a cup of Rolled Oats
- A cup (250 ml) of Water or Milk
- A pinch of salt
Once you’ve prepared the ingredients, mix them in a pot and bring them to a boil. Cook to a simmer while occasionally stirring until it forms a soft consistency. To make oatmeal tastier and even more nutritious, you can add cinnamon, fruits, nuts, seeds, and/or Greek yogurt.
A serving of half a cup or 40-grams of dry oats has over 148 calories. Despite its low caloric levels, it still holds 5.5 grams of protein and 3.8 grams of fiber.
These small fish are believed to be named after Sardinia’s Italian island because of their abundance in that area. Sardines can actually be consumed fresh; however, they are also highly perishable, so they are usually produced in cans.
Even though sardines aren’t precisely the most popular snacks, they are incredibly nutritious and low in calories. Sardines pack a concentrated source of protein, calcium, iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and selenium. They are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and are especially beneficial for the heart, and are very low in mercury.
Enjoy these delicacies fresh out of the can or on some crackers. A can (106 grams) of sardines has only 151 calories, and a 1/4 cup serving is generally under 100 calories. In contrast, 100-grams of pork carries 242 calories.
This salad is a flavorful infusion of mozzarella cheese, plump and juicy tomatoes, and fresh Basil. These combinations of flavors can easily please the pickiest eaters. It definitely helps that they’re low on calories while being immensely nutritious.
To make a Caprese salad, you need:
- Mozzarella Balls
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Fresh, chopped Basil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea salt
Don’t be too excessive with the mozzarella balls, though, because that’s the most calorie-dense part of the ingredients list.
The ratio for the dish varies, but in general, the ingredient is initially meshed in a glass jar, tossed with olive oil, and pinched with sea salt to taste. You can even store this and eat it whenever you get hungry. Store-bought Caprese salads are often served in a 2-ounce (58-gram) container that yields 142 calories. To compare, 100-grams of chicken consists of 246 calories.
Homemade Protein Bars
Protein bars are often available in both grocery and convenience stores. In most cases, store-bought protein bars are packed with simple sugars and various unhealthy additives. To avoid consuming this low-nutritional snack, you can easily make your own protein bars chalked-full with healthier ingredients. The best thing about it is it can be modified according to your own flavor profile without compromising its nutritional value.
You’ll want to look for recipes that incorporate wholesome ingredients such as nuts, seeds, PB2 peanut butter, dried fruit, and coconut. Besides being full of fiber and vitamins, these ingredients are also naturally sweetened. If you have a big sweet tooth, you can add in a bit of honey or maple syrup to taste.
The calorie content of homemade protein bars can vary widely, but many recipes deliver around 200 calories per bar. This is definitely a big gap from the 556 calories offered by a 100-gram chocolate bar!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do consumers want reduced-calorie foods and beverages?
There is an evident and steadily significant increase in demands for low-calorie products by consumers. This is most likely influenced by the fitness craze. This has grown into a national phenomenon and subsequently increased the number of converts to the light market.
Are low-calorie foods and beverages helpful in weight control?
Health professionals will ultimately tell you that the key to losing weight is to burn off more calories than consumed. This is done through a gradual increase in physical activity or plainly consuming fewer calories, as is the case with fasting, or even both at the same time.
What are low-calorie sweeteners used in?
The most popular low-calorie food and beverages are advertised diet soft drinks and tabletop sweeteners. Also, aspartame is often used in drinks like instant coffees, ready-to-drink teas, and powdered soft drink mixes. Low-calorie sweeteners are used in most low-calorie products since sugar affects the calorie count by a lot.
A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
Reducing your caloric intake is not synonymous with constantly feeling hungry and unsatisfied with every meal you eat. Adopting a wide variety of well-balanced and filling foods that contain both protein and fiber. Stick to these, and you can definitely fight off cravings and decrease hunger to make weight loss more accessible. An active lifestyle, a well-rounded diet, and the integration of these low-calorie foods can keep you feeling satisfied throughout the day, even while on a cut.