Do you ever find yourself eating an entire bag of chips and still feeling famished? Or maybe you’ve polished off a pint of ice cream and are left craving more. The problem is, calorie-dense foods can leave us feeling unsatisfied, leading to overeating and weight gain. In fact, research into how cravings work has suggested that eating calorically dense foods too often may lead to a habitual desire for them (7). On the other hand, low-calorie, high-volume foods can help us feel full longer and make it easier to control our portions. These seemingly magical foods are loaded with nutrients, fiber, and water, helping your body stay fueled and satisfied throughout the day. These qualities are another reason why high-volume foods help with fat loss. So, why not “stuff yourself skinny” with these delicious and filling options?
What Are High Volume Low-Calorie Foods?
There are a number of qualities that make a food high-volume and low-calorie. Generally, these foods have:
High Water Content
High volume low calorie foods are made up of a significant amount of water, like fruits and vegetables. The high water content not only aids in hydration but also helps to add bulk to foods without the additional calories.
Water takes up space in the stomach, leading to a feeling of fullness and satiety that reduces the urge to overeat.
High Fiber Content
High volume low calorie foods are also high in fiber, which is an essential component in maintaining digestive health (1). Fiber regulates bowel movements, reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol levels, and helps to maintain a healthy weight.
Fiber content also keeps you satiated for longer periods of time, reducing overall food intake.
High Nutrient Density
High volume low calorie foods are typically nutrient-dense, meaning they provide essential vitamins and minerals while being low in calories (12). Nutrient density ensures that the body gets all the necessary nutrients required to function optimally.
Calorie density refers to the amount of calories contained in a given weight or volume of food. High-volume low calorie foods have a lower calorie density, meaning they contain fewer calories per serving. This makes them an ideal choice for weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight.
Low Fat Content
Fat is a concentrated source of energy, with more than double the calories of carbohydrates and proteins. High volume low calorie foods are typically low in fat, which helps to reduce overall calorie intake while still providing essential nutrients and fiber (15).
High Protein Content
Protein is an essential macronutrient and can help increase satiety and boost metabolism (2). During digestion, protein takes longer to break down than carbohydrates, so it stays in the stomach for a longer period of time.
This helps keep you feeling full and reduces unhealthy food cravings. High-volume low calorie foods, such as legumes and lean meats are great for this purpose.
What Foods Are High In Volume And Low In Calories?
Below are some of the most popular and nutritious high-volume low-calorie foods:
Broccoli is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is high in fiber and low in calories. A cup of chopped, raw broccoli contains only 31 calories, but it provides a significant portion of your daily recommended intake of vitamins K and C (5).
One meal idea is to roast broccoli with garlic and lemon juice and serve it alongside grilled chicken or fish
Like broccoli, cauliflower is another vegetable that is high in fiber and low in calories. A cup of chopped raw cauliflower only contains 27 calories (6). Cauliflower is incredibly versatile and can be used as a low-calorie substitute for rice, pizza crust, or even mashed potatoes.
One meal idea is to make cauliflower fried rice with shrimp and veggies.
BetterMe app will provide you with a host of fat-frying fitness routines that’ll scare the extra pounds away and turn your body into a masterpiece! Get your life moving in the right direction with BetterMe!
Strawberries are a nutrient-dense fruit that is high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. A cup of sliced strawberries contains only 53 calories (22). These make a delicious snack on their own, but can also be used in a variety of recipes like smoothies or salads.
One meal idea is to mix sliced strawberries with spinach, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing for a refreshing and low-calorie salad.
Popcorn is a surprisingly low-calorie snack that is high in fiber and can help curb hunger. One cup of air-popped popcorn only contains 31 calories(21). Instead of using pre-packaged microwave popcorn, buy plain kernels and pop them yourself on the stove-top or in an air popper.
One idea is to sprinkle popcorn with nutritional yeast and garlic powder for a tasty and savory snack.
Remember that even low-calorie foods can be high in calories if consumed in large quantities, so make sure to practice portion control. Incorporating these foods into balanced meals and snacks can help individuals feel satiated while staying within their calorie goals.
Zucchini is a versatile vegetable that is low in calories and high in fiber. A cup of sliced, raw zucchini contains only 20 calories and is a great source of vitamin C and potassium (13). One meal idea is to make zucchini noodles and top them with tomato sauce and grilled shrimp.
Watermelon is a juicy, low-calorie fruit that is packed with vitamins and minerals. A cup of diced watermelon contains only 46 calories (24). Watermelon makes a refreshing snack or dessert on its own, but it can also be used in salads and smoothies.
One meal idea is to mix diced watermelon with feta cheese and fresh mint leaves for a delicious summer salad.
Carrots are a root vegetable that is high in fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. A cup of sliced, raw carrots contains only 50 calories (14). Carrots can be eaten raw as a snack or used in a variety of recipes like salads, soups, and stews. One meal idea is to roast sliced carrots with herbs and serve them as a side dish to grilled chicken or tofu.
8. Shirataki Noodles
Shirataki noodles are low-calorie noodles made from konjac yam root and water. A 4-ounce serving of these noodles contains only 10 calories and virtually no carbs, making them perfect for anyone following a low-carb or low-calorie diet (19).
The noodles can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to salads. One meal idea is to make a cold shirataki noodle salad with cucumbers, bell peppers, and a soy sauce-based dressing.
Mushrooms are low in calories and a good source of fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. A cup of sliced, raw mushrooms contains only 15 calories(3). Mushrooms are very versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups to salads. One meal idea is to sauté mushrooms with onions and garlic and serve them over a bed of whole wheat pasta.
10. Kelp Noodles
Kelp noodles are a low-calorie, low-carb alternative to traditional pasta. One 4-ounce serving of kelp noodles contains only 6 calories and very few net carbs. They have a slightly crunchy texture and can be used in a variety of cold or hot recipes, such as stir-fries and salads.
11. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is a lean source of protein that is low in calories and high in satiety value. A 3-ounce serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast contains only 140 calories but provides a whopping 26 grams of protein (4).
Try grilling chicken breast and pairing it with roasted vegetables for a filling and low-calorie meal.
12. Egg Whites
Egg whites are a low-calorie, high-protein food that can be used in a variety of recipes. One large egg white contains only 18 calories and provides over 3 grams of protein (9). Try making an egg white omelet with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes for a satisfying breakfast or light lunch.
13. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a nutrient-dense food that can be used in a variety of dishes, from smoothies to oatmeal. One tablespoon of chia seeds contains only 60 calories but provides a high dose of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants (18).
14. Brown Rice
Brown rice is a low calorie, high fiber carbohydrate that can be used as a base for many meals. One cup of cooked brown rice contains only 216 calories and provides 3.5 grams of fiber (8). Try using brown rice in stir-fries, salads, or as a side dish to grilled proteins.
15. Air-Popped Sorghum
Air-popped sorghum is a gluten-free, low-calorie snack that is high in fiber and antioxidants. One cup of popped sorghum only contains 120 calories but provides 2 grams of fiber (20). Try air-popping sorghum and seasoning it with your favorite herbs and spices for a healthy and satisfying snack.
Betterme will keep you laser-focused on your weight loss journey! Nutrient-packed meal plans, fat-blasting workouts, galvanizing challenges and much more. Try using the app and see for yourself!
Lentils are a versatile legume that are high in protein and fiber, making them a good choice for a satisfying vegetarian meal. One cup of cooked lentils contains only 230 calories but provides 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber (11). Lentils can be used in stews, soups, salads, and curries for a filling and nutrient-dense meal.
17. Whole Grains (Quinoa, Oatmeal, Bulgur)
Whole grains are nutrient-dense carbohydrates that are low in calories and high in fiber. One cup of cooked quinoa, oatmeal, or bulgur contains about 230 calories and provides a good source of protein and fiber (16).
Try using these grains as a base for salads, stews, and stir-fries for a filling and nutritious meal.
19. Turkey Breast
Turkey breast is a lean protein that is also low in calories and rich in nutrients like vitamin B6 and niacin. A 3-ounce serving of roasted turkey breast contains only 125 calories but provides over 26 grams of protein (23). Try using sliced turkey breast in sandwiches or salads for a low-calorie and protein-rich meal.
20. White Fish
White fish like cod, haddock, and tilapia are lean proteins that are also low in calories. A 3-ounce serving of cooked white fish contains only about 100 calories but provides over 16 grams of protein (17).
White fish can be broiled, grilled, baked, or used in fish tacos or bowls for a filling and healthy meal.
How To Use The High Volume Low-Calorie Foods List To Your Advantage
Volume eating is an approach to eating that focuses on incorporating large portions of low-calorie foods into your diet. This helps you feel full and satisfied while consuming fewer calories overall, making it a useful tool for weight loss and weight management.
By adding high-volume, low-calorie foods to your diet, you can increase the volume of your meals, without overindulging in high-calorie, low-nutrient foods.
Benefits Of Volume Eating
There are many benefits to incorporating volume eating into your diet, including:
- Increased feelings of satiety and fullness, which makes it easier to stick to your diet and reduce overall calorie intake.
- A focus on nutrient-dense foods, which may help improve overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Improved digestion and bowel function due to the increased fiber and water content in high-volume foods.
- Convenience, as many high-volume foods like fruits and vegetables can be prepared quickly and easily.
- Better weight management as you can eat larger portions of more nutrient-dense foods, helping to reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks.
Tips For Volume Eating
Here are some tips to help you incorporate volume eating into your diet:
1. Control Portions
Even though high-volume, low-calorie foods are lower in calories, it is still important to control your portions. Use the foods in this list to balance out your meals and snacks, while ensuring that they are portion-controlled.
For example, if you’re craving a sandwich, include high-volume foods like lettuce and spinach to increase the volume of the sandwich without adding more calories.
Other tips for checking your portions and staying within your calorie budget include using smaller plates, measuring out servings in advance, and reading food labels.
2. Meal Planning
Meal planning is an essential part of volume eating. By planning your meals and snacks ahead of time, you can ensure that you have healthy options available. Choose meals with a balanced mix of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, and swap out high-calorie foods with high-volume, low-calorie options whenever possible.
3. Shop Smart
When food shopping, look for high-volume, low-calorie food options. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are all great choices. Stock up on healthy snacks like cut-up fruits and vegetables, nuts or seeds, and low-fat dairy products to have on hand when hunger strikes.
Other ways to ensure you shop smart include stocking up on frozen fruits and vegetables, buying foods in bulk when possible, and shopping at local farmer’s markets for seasonal produce.
Going grocery shopping on a full stomach (so you don’t purchase impulsively) and sticking to a shopping list can also help. Avoid aisles that contain unhealthy snacks and ultra processed foods.
4. Slow Down And Savor
Eating slowly and savoring your food is a key part of volume eating. This helps you recognize when you’re full and minimize overeating. Take breaks between bites and pay attention to feelings of fullness and satisfaction.
Slowing down and savoring your food is also a good way to enjoy your meals and get more pleasure out of food.
To amplify the benefits of this way of eating (also called mindful eating), try to limit distractions while you eat. Avoid watching TV, scrolling through social media or reading during mealtimes.
5. Be Patient
Remember that adopting these tactics requires patience and consistency. It may take some time to adjust to a new eating routine, but the long-term benefits of feeling satisfied and nourished will be well worth the effort.
To help ensure success, set small, achievable goals and track your progress. Review your successes and setbacks to help you stay motivated and on track.
Incorporating volume eating into your diet can help you achieve your health and wellness goals, while still feeling satisfied and full. By focusing on nutritionally-dense, high-volume foods, controlling your portions, planning your meals, and paying attention to hunger and fullness signals, you can make volume eating a sustainable and enjoyable part of your daily routine.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 10 High-Fiber, Low-Calorie Foods (2012, achs.edu)
- A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats (2014, nih.gov)
- Are mushrooms a good vegetarian alternative to meat? (2014, aicr.org)
- Breasts vs Thighs Which Is More Nutritious (2021, eatright.org)
- Broccoli, raw (2022, usda.gov)
- Cauliflower, raw (2018, usda.gov)
- Cravings (2021, harvard.edu)
- DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS (2020, health.gov)
- Eggs, Grade A, Large, egg white (2019, usda.gov)
- FOOD & NUTRITION EDUCATION LAB (2018, udel.edu)
- Lentils, sprouted, cooked, stir-fried, without salt (2019, usda.gov)
- Low-Energy-Dense Foods and Weight Management: Cutting Calories While Controlling Hunger (2012, cdc.gov)
- Nutrition Facts (2023, rochester.edu)
- Nutrition Facts Carrots, raw, 1 cup, strips or slices (2023, rochester.edu)
- Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance (2021, nih.gov)
- Quinoa can be used in a variety of ways, including in soups, salads, main dishes, breads and crackers. (2015, ndsu.edu)
- Seafood Nutrition Overview Dietary Advice (2023, seafood health facts.org)
- Seeds are healthy sources of fiber (2015, msu.edu)
- SHIRATAKI NOODLES (2022, usda.gov)
- Significance of coarse cereals in health and nutrition: a review (2012, nih.gov)
- Snacks, popcorn, air-popped (Unsalted) (2019, usda.gov)
- Strawberries, raw (2019, usda.gov)
- Turkey, whole, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted (2019, usda.gov)
- Watermelon (2018, udel.edu)