If you are like me, you were dragged, kicking and scratching, into the world of eating low calorie foods. Fast meal chain restaurants, frozen pizzas, and chocolate were my best friends, and often a single one of my meals would contain enough calories to keep a small village sustained for a week.
I have learned, however, that there are many low-cal alternatives that surprisingly don’t taste like air mixed with water. Low calorie meals are not only meant for those who wish to shed a few extra pounds; incorporating healthier recipes into your diet can help your overall well-being, moods, and energy.
A healthy reduction of your caloric intake is much more than just lowering the number of calories you consume. You should not simply eat less of the same old crap! It is conceivable that you could lose weight on a low-cal diet of nothing but cheese fries and chocolate cake, but how healthy would you be?
Diets based on merely eating smaller amounts of the same processed, calorie-rich foods typically result in poor nutrition, constant hunger, and only temporary weight loss. Eating tiny portions of concentrated calories does not satisfy your hunger, so you end up going off your diet and regaining the weight lost.
We repeat this process again and again, harming both our health and our self-esteem.
You may be surprised to learn, however, that by eating low calorie foods that are higher in nutrients and fiber, we can become satisfied and feel totally full. We can actually lose weight even though we are eating more, flavor-rich food!
What are the benefits of Low Calorie Foods
Research has shown that a lower calorie diet can have many potential health benefits. Eating healthy foods is one of the best ways to lose weight. Normally the body burns carbohydrates for calories, but when you are on a low calorie diet, the body turns into a fat burning engine, helping in weight loss. Reducing calories in your diet can lower blood insulin and glucose levels, by burning fat and proteins instead.
A few of the positive health benefits of eating a lot of nutrient-heavy, low calorie foods:
- The body burns away stubborn fat reserves resulting in weight loss.
- Helps in stabilizing insulin and blood sugar levels and thereby reduces risk of arterial damage.
- Decreases blood pressure and reduces risk of heart related ailments like heart attack.
- Increases good cholesterol (HDL), and lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the body.
- Helps lower HBA1c and C reactive protein levels in the body, making us less susceptible to heart inflammation and other heart related diseases.
- Can help reduce blood glucose levels in diabetics and pre-diabetics.
- May aid in the treatment of chronic digestive ailments like gastritis.
Most people that have smartly limited their caloric content have reported experiencing a reduction in cravings for sweets and mid-day snacking. They also claim to feel more energetic and focused. Some others report fewer headaches and gastrointestinal problems. A balanced diet of low calorie foods has no known adverse effects on the human body, but as with any major dietary changes, you should check first with your doctor before starting a long-term, low calorie diet.
What are some low calorie foods?
Processed breads, regular pizza, pastries and other starchy foods are generally off limits if you want to maintain a low calorie diet.
Common low calorie examples are legumes, greens, vegetables, fruits, some cheeses, chicken, fish, and egg whites.
Also, remember that spices are your friends! A dash here and there of a new spice can instantly change a dish from bland to spectacular.
Low Calorie Foods Substitutes
There are many ways to replace fatty or high-carb ingredients with healthier substitutes.
For example, when baking, instead of butter, margarine, shortening, or oil, a fruit puree like applesauce or prune puree can replace much of the fat in cakes, cookies, breads, and muffins.
In a recipe, egg whites or an egg substitute like Egg Beaters can be used for whole eggs. Reduced fat milk (2%, 1% or skim) is a lower calorie alternative to whole milk. In addition, plain, low-fat yogurt generally works well anywhere sour cream is used. You can also brown up some thinly sliced, lean ham for that beloved bacon flavor.
Get started on an intelligent, low calorie foods diet today – don’t be afraid – and reap the benefits. With some creativity, your favorite recipes can be easily adapted to provide healthier low calorie food alternatives.