SURPRISING ZERO-CALORIE, NEAR-ZERO-CALORIE AND VERY LOW-CALORIE FOODS

posted in: 📉 Weight Loss Blog Posts | 0

Joe is an online weight loss coach and qualified personal trainer of 15 years who helps busy, professional men and women lose fat and build muscle.

Having a 9-5 desk-job, Joe understands the struggles of juggling a hectic life with trying to maintain a good physique.

If you want to know more, check out the about page, or get in touch

Zero-calorie foods. 

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?

But zero-calorie foods do genuinely exist.

Now, don’t get too excited, you probably won’t want to exclusively eat these foods, but if you are trying to lose weight, including all or some of these in your diet could genuinely help you.

Yes, we all know by now that you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, but the trick is getting into that calorie deficit in the first place, and sticking to the deficit long term.

It’s a very simple concept, but it’s NOT easy.

One of the things you can do to make it easier to eat foods that will deliver MAXIMUM satiety (i.e fullness) for MINIMAL calories.

These types of food are called low-calorie density foods – they are very ‘voluminous’ or bulky, but very low in calories.

Think fruits and vegetables, potatoes and beans.

But zero-calorie foods are even better because you guessed it, they contain ZERO calories.

WHAT ARE ZERO-CALORIE FOODS?

It kind of says it on the tin, but if you didn’t already know, zero-calorie foods are foods that are literally calorie-free.

Yes, they don’t contain any ‘energy’ 

This means that technically, you could eat as much of them as you want without the risk of going into a calorie surplus and adding fat.

DO ZERO CALORIE FOODS EXIST?

Yes, as much as it might seem like a magical fantasy, or something made up by a W-list celeb from Love Island 2016, zero-calorie foods are very much real.

I know you’re getting bored reading this overly long and rambling introduction now so I’m going to launch straight into the list.

But first I have a confession to make.

Not all of these foods are actually zero calorie, I’ve split them up into a couple of different categories;

  • Genuinely zero-calorie foods: Foods that are calorie-free*
  • Almost zero-calorie foods: Foods that have negligible calories; mostly vegetables
  • Very low-calorie foods: Foods that are very very low in calories

*Ok, ok, some of these might have like 1 calorie, give me a break

GENUINE ZERO CALORIE FOODS

Ok so here we, go, actual zero-calorie foods.

You’ll see that there aren’t actually that many that really are calorie-free, and many of these are highly processed foods that won’t have a lot of nutritional value (from a micronutrient point of view), but there’s no reason you can include them as part of an overall healthy diet

1. Zero Syrups

Syrup is a pretty versatile food when you think about it. My personal favourite use is to drench a stack of pancakes and melted butter with maple syrup (although zero-calorie syrup and butter doesn’t make much sense), of course, it does have other uses.

 I can’t think of them right now but there are lots of companies that make zero syrup in loads of different flavours. Like Strawberry, Chocolate, Golden Syrup, and my personal fave, Maple Syrup.

The brands that make zero syrups include My Protein, Skinny Food Co, Walden Farms and Bulk. Bulk are the best in my opinion as they have the most flavours. Give them a go

2. Diet Coke/Coke Zero

The brown fizzy drink that tastes like a party in your mouth.

The original zero-calorie beverage, Diet Coke and Coke Zero have been helping people diet for years, there are three main reasons Diet Coke and Coke Zero are so good for people looking to lose weight;

  • The sweetness helps curb cravings for sweet foods that DO contain calories
  • The fact that it’s a liquid means that it takes up space in your stomach
  • The fact that it’s carbonated also means it’ll make you feel bloated and full (in a good way)

Which is better? Take your pick. I think Zero tastes much better, but I do occasionally enjoy a Diet Coke now and again.

I know what you’re thinking “isn’t coke bad for me”? 

No.

There are been multiple studies on Aspartame used to sweeten Coke, and while some negative side effects were observed, this only occurs if you drink insane amounts; we’re talking 20 cans a day. Even I don’t love it that much.

If you’re dieting, my advice would be to grab yourself a 12-pack.

diet coke

3. Zero Calorie Jelly

Jelly. The ultimate dessert.

Ok, maybe if you’re 4 years old.

Since then we’ve all discovered that brownies and cookie dough are a thing. The problem with these desserts is that one portion can easily pack 1,000 calories. If you’re on a diet, that could be a large part of your calorie budget gone in a few (Admittedly delicious) mouthfuls.

So, if you are dieting, and craving something sweet that’s NOT a liquid, Jelly could be the way to go.

4. Tobasco Sauce

One of the biggest things people struggle with when it comes to ‘diet foods’ is flavour.

We all know that vegetables, salad and lean meat can taste pretty boring, depending on you cook and season it.

One thing you simply cannot say is that any food covered in Tobasco sauce is boring.

Yes, it might blow your face off and make the next few toilet trips painful, but it is NOT boring.

And the best thing is that Tobasco contains ZERO calories. Ok. ok, 100ml DOES contain 16 calories but this stuff is so potent, the likelihood that you’ll use anything more than a couple of ml is low.

Throw a few drops in meat, rice, and salads and it’ll transform it. You can even get different flavours new like Habenero and Green Pepper.

5. Black Coffee

Hands up who DOESN’T need at least one coffee to allow them to function in the morning…

Thought so.

Almost everyone drinks and loves coffee so you’ll probably think it’s good news that your favourite caffeinated beverage contains a grand total of ZERO calories.

Sound too good to be true? Well, there is a slight catch.

This is on the proviso that you don’t add any milk, syrup (unless it’s zero-calorie syrup), sugar, whipped cream, chocolate shavings, unicorn sprinkles or whatever other crap people order in Starbucks.

But in my opinion, if you genuinely like the taste of coffee, you’ll be happy drinking it black.

What you can do is add some sweetener and a tiny splash of skimmed milk if you really need to and it’ll still only be a couple of calories.

Trye purists get to drink the black stuff totally calorie-free however

6. Black Tea

As above.

I know tea isn’t as cool as coffee, but I’m going to give you exactly the same tip.

Lose the milk and sugar and you have a genuinely calorie-free beverage.

7. All Herbs and Spices

As I mentioned before, meat can be incredibly boring if you don’t cook and season it right.

I might not be able to help you with the cooking part (that’s for another post) but when it comes to seasoning, herbs and spices are your friend.

Now I can’t tell you which ones to use, you’ll have to experiment and find out what you like, but for me, these four tend to work well with chicken;

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Garlic Powder

You might be reading this thinking ‘what difference is salt and pepper realistically going to make’, but believe me, a chicken breast seasoned with even just salt and pepper, that’s cooked well will taste 1000 times better than one you just throw into the oven.

8. Fry Light Spray

This is the first thing I tell all my new weight loss clients to invest in first.

When you’re trying to lose fat, this stuff is worth it’s weight in gold. Why?

Well, if you cook with vegetable oil or olive oil as most people do, you’re probably unknowingly adding hundreds of calories to each meal.

A tablespoonful of olive oil is 125 calories. 1 sprat of Fry Light is 1 calorie (ok it’s not zero, but near enough).

That means if you cook every evening meal in a tablespoon of olive oil, you’re eating 825 calories a week of oil, and does it really make your food taste any different? 

No.

Get some Fry Light, now.

9. Zero Calorie Salad Dressing

What’s the first thing you think you need to start eating more of when you start a diet?

Yep, salad.

And what makes salads seem even slightly appealing and edible? Dressing.

The problem with most salad dressing is, by the time you’ve slathered your lettuce and tomato with half the bottle, you end up with a dish that’s more calorific than a drunken Dominos order.

Enter zero-calorie salad dressing; these really are a revelation, and with a few sprays can transform the blandest of salads into something you’d actually vaguely excited about eating. 

Salads are a great diet food, but only if you actually eat them, and if you have some of this spray-on dressing, you definitely will.

ALMOST ZERO-CALORIE FOODS

When you’re dieting, it’s true that every calorie counts, but unless you’re already very light and struggling to drop the last pound or two, all the foods below can pretty much be considered calorie-free.

Yes, they do technically contain calories but the amounts of these foods that people typically eat will be so negligible in terms of calorie content that they can almost be considered zero calorie.

Most of these are vegetables, but there are a couple in here you may not have thought of…

1. Garlic

THE best pound-for-pound flavour enhancer there is out there.

Garlic suits almost any dish and one clove typically contains just five calories. FIVE. Name me something that tastes as good that has fewer calories than that.

You can’t.

There is always a temptation to cut corners when it comes to garlic and use pre-chopped ‘lazy garlic’ or a garlic paste, but if you’re going to do this be aware that these can be significantly higher in calories, depending on the added ingredients.

2. Kale

Everyone’s favourite.

Kale has developed a bit of a reputation recently and if you don’t rate it in its boiled state, I totally understand.

But have you tried Kale crisps?

Heat an oven to 200 degrees, put some kale on a baking tray with some garlic salt, wait 5 minutes and BOOM, you have delicious, virtually calorie-free ‘crisps’.

Ok, they’re no Dorriotos, but you CAN pretty much eat unlimited amounts. You can thank me later.

3. Celery

The original ‘negative calorie’ food.

The myth persists that ‘eating celery burns off more calories than the celery itself contains’. Is that actually true? Who knows, who cares?!

What we do know is that celery is VERY low in calories, is great for snacking (Who doesn’t like that crunch), and can be really  filling

4. Onion

Red, white an spring onions (or scallions) all taste great raw OR cooked and are very low in calories.

5. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, folate, and fiber. It is also a good source of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese.

Cauli is mega versatile, and can be used to make lower calorie versions of popular foods; Cauliflower mash and rice make good lower carb alternatives, and it can even be blended up and used to make a pizza base.

6. Cucumber

Cucumber is mostly water, and guess how many calories water has?

Yep, zero.

Add in some fibre and this makes for a crunchy, fibre-dense, refreshing vegetable that works well in salads and sandwiches.

Think cucumbers lack flavour? Try picking one – pickles pack a flavour punch for very few calories.

7. Lemon

No, lemon water will not make you magically lose fat (Sorry).

BUT, a squeeze of lemon can enhance the flavour of meat, yoghurt, water, diet coke and almost anything else you can think of (ok maybe not Pizza) for almost no calories.

Not zero calorie, but a lemon contains about 20 calories, that’s a LOT of flavour per calorie! One more thing, I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is no, Lemon water WON’T help you lose weight.

8. Cauli Rice

Caluli Rice has been around for a few years now and is exactly what it sounds like; Cauliflower ground up into small rice-sized pieces.

Cault rice comes in individual serving-sized bags that you can microwave and serve just like you would normal rice.

It comes in a few different flavours, and 200g contains just 40 calories

9. Zero Calorie Noodles

This is quite a new thing, and probably still one of the best-kept secrets in fitness, but yes, zero calorie Noodles do exist.

Now, before you get too excited, these are NOT like the Singapore Noodles or Chow Mein you get from the local Chinese takeaway.

Far from it.

BUT, if you are craving noodles and want a chinese-style dish like a stir fry, these are pretty good paired with some chicken, fresh chopped veg and soy sauce.

10. Walden Farms Sauces

Walden Farms are synonymous with zero-calorie sauces and they offer a HUGE range of sweet and savoury options.

Choose from the likes of;

  • Salad dressings
  • Dips
  • Syrups
  • Spreads

My personal favourite is the BBQ sauce. Regular BBQ sauce isn’t super high in calories, but if you’re a big fan of cream-based sauces the Ceaser dressing can save you a TON of calories.

VERY LOW-CALORIE FOODS

Compared to everything else on this list, these foods are higher in calories, but still VERY low calorie in the grand scheme of things.

Pairing some of these with zero or near-zero-calorie foods will mean you can’t go wrong when you’re dieting.

1. 0% Fat Greek Yogurt

The 0% fat part is obviously important; Greek Yogurt comes in various different configurations, so look for the ‘Fage’ brand with the purple lid.

Coming in at just 50 calories for 100g, This is one of the best diet foods going; it’s voluminous, filling, full of protein, very low in calories and goes with almost anything.

You can eat it on its own with from fruit at breakfast, dollop it on your pancakes, use it as a mayo substitute or have it as a side with your Chilli Con Carne.

2. Shrimp/Prawns

Whether you’re de-shelling them and sucking the brains out, or eating them pre-peeled straight out the pack; prawns will almost definitely help you lose weight.

These little critters have almost no fat in them and are pretty much pure protein meaning they only contain 100 calories per 100g. They taste great stir-fried with some veg and rice or noodles, and make a great substitute for chicken or lamb in a curry. 

The only downside? They can be expensive, buy them frozen for maximum cost-effectiveness.

3. White Fish

Like prawns, white fish is very low in fat, and incredibly versatile. It can be bland however, so when you cook it, make sure you add plenty of seasonings and stuff like lemon, garlic and ginger to give it extra flavour.

Be sure to cook it slow as well or it’ll go really dry. There are literally dozens of varieties of white fish out there including;

  • Haddock
  • Hake
  • Sea Bass
  • Swordfish

The most common type of white fish however is Cod, which weighs in at around 80 calories per 100g.

4. Berries

Contrary to popular belief, the sugar in fruit (fructose) is not ‘bad’ and will NOT stop you from losing weight.

Not all fruit is created equal, however, and berries are among the lowest calorie fruits around (sweeter tropical fruits like Pineapple and Banana tend to be higher in calories), 100g of blueberries for example contains just 60 calories 

5. Watermelon

You might think I’m contradicting myself since I just said that tropical fruits are more calorific than berries and ‘orchard’ type fruits, but watermelon is an exception.

Watermelon is juicy, delicious, and filling and contains just 30 calories per 100g. 30! This isn’t just to be eaten by the pool on holiday, this is a genuine staple diet food.

6. Whey Protein Powder

Protein powder is higher in calories than other foods on this list, but it is still a very effective way to get a decent hit of protein for relatively few calories.

100g of protein powder typically contains around 400, but most people will typically consume a 25g serving which has around 100 calories and 20g of protein.

This isn’t just for bodybuilders, it should be a staple in your kitchen cupboard!

My Protein Impact Whey

WILL ZERO CALORIE FOODS HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?

Yes, eating zero-calorie, almost zero-calorie and very low-calorie foods will almost definitely help you lose weight. The fuller you feel, the less likely you’ll be to overeat and be in a calorie surplus, so if you can stuff yourself with zero-calorie foods, you’ll be much more likely to be successful with weight loss.

Of course, eating zero-calorie foods is not a guarantee that you’ll lose weight. You could eat plenty of zero-calorie foods and still gain weight (or not lose weight) if you overate.

Eating more zero-calorie foods just makes it far more likely that you’ll lose weight since you’ll feel fuller and more satiated, which is absolutely key when trying to stick to a calorie deficit long term.

WHEN TO AVOID ZERO CALORIE FOODS

You shouldn’t take this to the extreme and only eat zero-calorie foods.

Your body needs calories to function, if you chronically eat very low calories you’ll probably experience;

  • Tiredness
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • A general lack of motivation
  • Weakness

The health of your skin and hair may also suffer. You don’t want any of this, as it’ll just make you quit and go back to the way you were eating before.

We all want fast weight loss, but the best possible strategy is to pick a manageable calorie deficit; somewhere between 300 and 700 calories per day, that will allow you to lose weight sustainably over time, in a way that doesn’t impact your physical health, or your lifestyle.

Zero calories foods however can be a very powerful tool in your dieting arsenal that you should use sparingly and strategically.

SUMMARY

Zero-calorie foods DO exist and should be a part of most people’s dieting strategy. 

These types of food work well for dieting because they are calorie-sparse, i.e. they provide zero (or very few) calories whilst still being filling, meaning you could technically eat unlimited amounts without gaining weight.

Zero-calorie foods however are just one tool in the box when dieting and should be used appropriately and sparingly.

Joe is an online weight loss coach and qualified personal trainer of 15 years who helps busy, professional men and women lose fat and build muscle.

Having a 9-5 desk-job, Joe understands the struggles of juggling a hectic life with trying to maintain a good physique.

If you want to know more, check out the about page, or get in touch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *