Surprise, surprise, there are zero calorie foods!
There surely are some ultra-processed ingredients with no or low calories.
But can you class these as foods?
And what effect are they going to have on your health, short and long term?
There are also some foods that are so low in calories, that some would argue cause you to burn more calories eating them than you get from them.
Foods with lots of water and/or fibre and not much protein, fat or carbohydrates would fit this zero or very low calories mould too.
For instance, celery is one often touted as a zero or negative calorie food.
Because you supposedly burn more calories from chewing and digesting, than is actually in the celery.
Theoretically this makes sense, but there doesn’t appear to be any scientific papers to validate the claims currently (let us know if you've found any).
That all being said, low calorie foods as opposed to zero calorie foods are certainly an important factor for many who are watching what they eat.
And if you decide to incorporate more low-calorie foods into your diet, it’s best to make sure they have an abundance of micronutrients.
This is so the food is not just taking up space in your gut, but also nourishing you and providing your body with what it needs.
So although the below foods aren't full zero calorie, they're as close as you're going to get to it!
Low calorie, nutrient dense foods
As you'll notice below, most of these foods are green vegetables, most greens are low calorie and nutritious.
We must add, most of these would be great blended in a frozen smoothie too!
We’ve written about this wonder vegetable so many times before and for good reason.
It is fantastic!
It’s probably the poster-child for nutrient dense, low calorie foods.
Kale contains an abundance of nutrients like Vitamin C and K as well as minerals like calcium and iron.
While it can be tempting to pull it out of the fridge and eat kale raw (we know, not every one's cup of tea).
But it’s best to cook your kale as it contains some compounds known as anti-nutrients which are reduced with cooking.
These anti-nutrients prevent absorption of key minerals like zinc, iron and calcium.
You can learn more about kale here (if you want to learn more).
Spinach has a very similar nutritional breakdown to kale and is a great source of vitamins and minerals too.
It has a low amount of calories, it's packed full of nutrients and it also should be cooked (although most of the time it's enjoyed washed and raw) to reduce its anti-nutrients levels too.
It's a wonderfull green leafed vegetable that can be enjoyed by many in so many different meals, salads and in your smoothies too.
Read more like this
Slaw it, sauerkraut it, steam it or you can even stir fry it.
However you like to have your cabbage, you're probably going to be on to a winner.
Cabbage is in the same family as kale, which is the brassicas.
It's packed full of micronutrients and fibre to keep your gut happy and healthy as well as giving your body some micronutrients it needs to function and flourish.
Broth is great one for you to have on a cold winter’s day.
The calorie count depends on the broth (whether it be homemade or store bought) and what ingredients are used to make it.
In saying this, most broth calories are quite low you'll find.
Some of the broth options available are vegetable, mushroom, seaweed or good old fashioned bone broth, and all of these contain different nutrient profiles.
Yet another non-starchy green vegetable makes the list.
Asparagus is also rich in prebiotic fibres to keep your gut bacteria happy, which may also help to play an additional role in weight loss if that's your current goal.
A few extra low calorie, nutrient dense foods
Here are just a few more foods for you which are high in water and low calorie.
Do you need to have zero calorie foods?
And as we said above, there are zero calorie ingredients and some foods that might be close to zero calories.
But do these zero calorie ingredients and foods have any nutrients in them to help you?
We all need foods and the nutrients in them to live and thrive.
So no need to beat yourself up over wanting to eat, especially if you’ve been under-eating for some time.
Without this urge, we all wouldn’t be alive today!
If you stick to looking for low calorie, nutrient dense foods instead of looking for zero calorie foods you're on the right track.
Adding these foods above into your daily meals or incorporating them somehow into your diet is as good a place as any to start.
The possibilities are endless!