Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. They promote a healthy body and reduce the risk of nutrition-related diseases. A diet rich in low-calorie vegetables can help reduce the risk of obesity and associated conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The table above shows which vegetables are low in calories.
Our body needs energy in the form of calories to maintain bodily functions and perform physical activities. Kilocalories (kcal) is a unit of measurement for energy. It is commonly used to measure and indicate the energy content of food and beverages.
Losing weight with low-calorie vegetables
Some vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and zucchini are particularly low in calories. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, arugula, kale, and lettuce also contain few calories. These foods can be useful for weight loss and reducing calorie intake.
Replace calorie-rich side dishes with vegetables. Instead of choosing potatoes, rice, or pasta as a side dish, try low-calorie vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini. You'll likely still feel satisfied while reducing your calorie intake.
Since vegetables are rich in fiber, which can keep you fuller for longer, a large portion of vegetables as a main course can provide satiety. A large salad or a vegetable soup with high-fiber vegetables is recommended. Avoid using sugary and fatty sauces or dressings on salads.
If you feel hungry between meals, you can opt for snack vegetables. Raw vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers can make you feel full without providing many calories.
Reducing body fat percentage
A calorie-restricted diet that includes low-calorie fruits and vegetables can be helpful for reducing body fat and improving muscle visibility.
However, keep in mind that when it comes to building muscle, you need to achieve a calorie surplus. This means you have to consume more calories than your body requires for daily maintenance. If you're trying to build muscles but not consuming enough calories, your body will draw energy from your muscles instead of building new ones.
Low-calorie vegetables have a low glycemic index
In general, low-calorie vegetables have a low glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels. People with diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or heart disease can use the GI to improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications.
Preparing vegetables with low calories
Here are a few tips on how to prepare vegetables with low calories:
- Steaming: Steaming is a gentle method to cook vegetables. No additional fat or oil is needed. Use a steamer basket for this.
- Sautéing: You can also sauté vegetables in a non-stick pan with a little oil. Use only as much oil as necessary. Toss the vegetables at short intervals to ensure even browning and release of flavors.
- Grilling: Without additional oil or fat, you can prepare vegetables on the grill. There are special vegetable grilling baskets and grill pans (with holes) available for purchase, which prevent the vegetables from falling through the grill grates. Additionally, you can marinate the vegetables with herbs and spices before grilling to enhance the flavor.
- Raw consumption: Many types of vegetables can be eaten raw. Cut them into bite-sized pieces and serve them as snacks.
- Baking: Vegetables can also be baked in the oven. Use a small amount of oil and add spices or herbs to enhance the flavor. Homemade potato wedges are a delight.
Low-calorie vegetables for snacking
There are several low-calorie vegetables that are great for snacking (on the go). The following list provides healthy alternatives to potato chips and sweets:
- Carrots: A classic snacking option that is rich in vitamin A.
- Cucumbers: Cucumber slices are refreshing and have a crispy, fresh texture.
- Bell peppers: Bell pepper strips are not only low in calories but also rich in vitamin C.
- Kohlrabi: Kohlrabi has a mild flavor and is also high in vitamin C and potassium.
- Radishes: They have a sharp and spicy taste. The mustard glycosides responsible for this are known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Kale chips: Kale can be turned into crispy chips. The chips are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron.