Can you recognize a low calorie food? What makes it low calorie? Are there similarities between one of these foods and another? Well, read on and we'll answer these questions.
A gram of fat has 9 calories and a gram of carbohydrate and/or protein has 4 calories. So the first rule is if it's fatty it's high in calories - definitely not a low calorie food. A similar weight of carbohydrate and/or protein has about half the calories of the same weight in fat.
It's easy to recognize fat on a steak or on bacon, but not so easy to recognize the invisible fat in a cupcake or a cookie. To identify how much fat is contained in these foods you have to become ‘label savvy’ - read the Nutrition Facts label on the packaging and pay particular attention to the ‘Serving Size’.
For foods you buy across the counter such as donuts, French fries, etc, you have to ask, “Was it deep fat fried?" If it was, it probably was fried in trans fat which is high in calories as well as heart-unfriendly.
Fats can be classified as bad and good. Bad fats are saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in meats and dairy products and might make things taste great but increase the risk of heart disease.
Trans fats are largely manufactured (margarine was first manifestation) and were used in baking and deep frying. If a packaged item contains them it will be listed in the Nutrition Facts label. They play havoc with your cholesterol and should be limited in your diet.
Good fats are found in vegetable products like olive oil, nuts and seeds. Most of these foods do contain saturated fats, but the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat components do much to cancel the effects of the saturated component.
It's good to substitute good fats for bad fats. For example eat a handful of almonds in place of a donut at break time. However, you must remember that even though nuts contain good fats, they are nevertheless fats and that means their calorie count is high. By eating a lot of them each day you will gain weight.
Next let us look at protein. A lean beef steak tastes great and is a good example of raw animal protein. However, most people eat more than 4 ounces in the dinner meal. That is all that is required on a daily basis. More than that and you are overeating in that there is saturated fat in the meat and the calories will rise dramatically. Beef steak no longer may be considered a low calorie meal.
Soy products - soy milk, tofu, etc, are a good example of vegetable carbohydrates and protein without the high levels of saturated fat. For example: one cup of soy milk (8 ounces) has 100 calories with only 4 calories (0.5g) from saturated fat. So this is a manufactured food that is high in beneficial carbohydrates and protein, relatively low in calories and as a bonus is heart-friendly.
The best low calorie foods are found in the produce and freezer sections of your local supermarket. Raw, fresh vegetables and fruits are rich in carbohydrates, protein, high in fiber, and low in fats. Most are low in calories. These foods are full of healthy nutrients which will be heart protective and strengthen your immune system. Some of these foods are even ‘negative calorie’ foods which are great for burning fat.
To find out more about low calorie and negative calorie foods visit:
About the Author:
Tim Lazaro is a nutrition scholar and competitive, masters runner who writes on issues related to heart health, natural-food diets, and aerobic exercise. By employing the diets and life-style changes that he writes about, he has lowered his total cholesterol and lost weight.