If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, one of the most effective ways is to eat zero-calorie foods (or close to zero).
Most people try to lose weight by eating less and getting into a big calorie deficit, but this can be really hard to stick with in the long run. And when you do eventually give up and eat a calorie-rich meal, you feel like you’ve failed.
A better way to get in shape is by eating more healthy low or zero-calorie foods rich in the daily nutrients you need.
This zero-calorie foods list will help you stay healthy, lose weight fast, and not always feel hungry and deprived.
The Zero Calorie Foods Myth
The term “zero-calorie foods” is a bit of a stretch, because all nutritious foods contain calories. Even celery contains about 6.5 calories per stalk. However, some foods have such a low-calorie count that they are considered near zero calories.
For example, one cup of plain popped popcorn contains less than 40 calories, whereas one cup of cooked white rice contains over 200 calories.
That said, there’s no such thing as truly zero-calorie foods. Your body still has to expend energy to digest and metabolize these foods, so they technically do have some caloric value.
But for the average person looking to cut down on their daily caloric intake, eating fewer calories of nutrient-rich low-calorie foods can help burn fat and increase your energy levels!
Almost Zero Calorie Foods List
Kelan and I love our active lifestyle and we want to keep it that way. These are the negative calorie foods that help us maintain a healthy eating plan without worrying about weight gain or feeling too full after meals!
Asparagus Calories Per Cup: 27
Asparagus is historically referred to as a detoxifying zero-calorie food, as it contains high levels of amino acids that act as a drug, flushing excess fluid out of your system. It additionally helps speed the metabolism of alcohol (hangover hack).
Asparagus is also a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, iron, and even protein. We love to steam or grill our asparagus with a little salt and pepper. A great side dish to any meal. #YUM
Broccoli Calories Per Cup: 30
Broccoli has astonishingly very few calories. It is filled with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It contains powerful antioxidants that will improve your odds against many types of cancers.
We have broccoli with our meals a few times a week, it’s a superfood so why not fuel your body with it? Mostly steamed, sautéed, or grilled with burgers, stir fry, breakfast omelets, etc.
Cabbage Calories Per Cup: 20
Another very low-calorie vegetable is cabbage. Cabbage is packed with vitamins, minerals, fibers, and several other nutrients to fight cancer. Who knew that so many negative calorie foods like vegetables would also have health benefits?
Not on the top of our list of favorite vegetables, but it’s great in soups in the crockpot, stews, and salads.
Lettuce Calories Per Cup: 8
Literally, if you eat lettuce raw you will burn more calories digesting than what you actually consume. Do the math that equals weight loss! Lettuce by itself is a nice supply of B vitamins and nutrients.
Choose different colors of lettuce to get different tastes. A rule of thumb is the darker the lettuce the better it is for you.
Lettuce is a staple in our balanced diet. We regularly have salads with a few meals a week to make sure we are getting enough vegetables in. A key to eating lettuce is not wasting its very few calories by drenching it in heavy cream salad dressings.
Use a low-fat, low-calorie oil-based dressing.
Cauliflower Calories Per Cup: 17
Like other veggies, cauliflower is packed with cancer-fighting nutrients and contains a great supply of water-soluble vitamins. Cauliflower is like a brother/sister to broccoli and is just as much a cancer-fighting superfood.
Cauliflower regularly gets to our dinner table as a broccoli and cauliflower salad. It’s also delicious steamed and mashed like potatoes with a little milk, salt, and pepper. Thanks for the weight loss recipe mom!
Calories In Water: 0
Our bodies are composed of 60% water on average, and we need water to function properly both physically and mentally. It’s no wonder that drinking enough water is one of the simplest things we can do for our health!
One of the most important roles of water in relation to weight loss is its ability to help us feel full. When we drink a glass of water before meals, it takes up space in our stomachs, leading us to eat less food overall.
Drinking plenty of water also helps us metabolize food more efficiently and speeds up weight loss.
7. Lemons and Limes
Calories Per Cup: 20
Citrus fruits are loaded with antioxidants and, when consumed whole, they are an excellent supply of fiber and vitamins. They have also been shown to have the effect of curbing an appetite.
We love adding a splash of lemon juice to zest up our recipes. Often tart and typically sweet citrus flavors add a punch of flavor with very few extra calories. Throw some lemon wedges in your water for an easy detox drink!
Calories Per Cup: ZERO!
Tea makes our list of negative calorie foods as well. With black, green, and white teas enjoy them hot or cold. True tea is high in polyphenols, an inhibitor that protects cells from cancer and a variety of diseases.
Tea also boosts your brain power, keeps you skinny, and helps you sleep better. A good tip is to sip on some decaf green tea when you have a late-night craving.
I also used sipping on tea as a mechanism to keep me busy while watching TV and not eat because I was bored.
9. Black Coffee
Calories Per Cup: ZERO!
Black coffee is amongst the lowest-calorie drink decision around, and it’s an excellent weight loss trick. Black coffee alters your level of hunger for zero calories, on top of providing you with a great energy boost in the morning.
Plus caffeine can speed up metabolism and fat-burning throughout your entire body.
It can be very hard to start drinking your coffee black, but give it a shot. Start to wean off the creamer and sugar and in no time you will enjoy a great healthy drink with many health benefits! Brittany lay off the double-doubles.
Tomatoes Calories: 22 per normal-sized tomato
Tomatoes contain a great amount of fiber and vitamins. Many people are unaware that although ketchup is based on tomatoes the amount of sugar added is outrageous.
Ketchup is one of the worst condiments you can use on your food. As my grandpa always said, “ketchup kills the flavor of something you don’t like”.
Tomatoes are extremely versatile in cooking, though. We regularly use them for tacos, spaghetti, burgers, kebabs, and salads.
Calories Per Cup: 40
Stop crying! Cutting onions is no joke, I think everyone has shed a tear or two while cutting them. These wonderful, succulent, powerful-tasting vegetables have plenty of vitamins and fibers to keep you coming back for more.
By far one of the most used vegetables in our house when it comes to cooking. Regularly showing up in omelets, stews, soups, dips, and more.
Calories Per Pepper: 23
Hot or gentle, peppers are filled with fiber for negligible calories. The warmth in hot peppers signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that will propel the body to scorch an additional fifty to a hundred calories following a spicy meal.
So start eating that Mexican food baby! Just remember however hot it is going in, it will be just as hot coming out the other side. They are also rich in vitamin C.
We love spicy low-calorie foods. We normally use green peppers with a bunch of our meals. You can never go wrong with some hot stuffed peppers! Always taste a little bit before going all in when it comes to peppers.
Calories Per Cup: 64
Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are filled with anti-inflammatories, that scale back your risk of a heart condition and cancer. These inhibitor powerhouses are bite-sized immunity boosters, particularly after they grow in the wild.
These berries are the best on top of oatmeal, with healthy smoothies, and even raw as a zero-calorie snack.
Calories Per Cup: 39
The grapefruit diet might actually have some truth to it. A powerhouse for heart health, grapefruit contains an antioxidant, folic acid, and potassium. Pink and red varieties even have fat-soluble vitamins.
Grapefruits are a great way to start the day. A full grapefruit is under 100 calories! Add a little sweetener and you have yourself a very yummy breakfast to start your day off right.
Spinach Calories Per Cup: 7
Tender and flush, this foliage is wealthy in iron, folic acid, and fat-soluble vitamin. It additionally contains disease-fighting antioxidant carotenoids.
Use it as a substitute for lettuce in a salad to get your superfood boost. Remember I said before that dark leafy green is better for you, well you can’t get much greener than spinach.
Our favorite use for this is omelets. If you see a trend here it’s because we are obsessed with a good breakfast on the weekends, or even for dinner some nights.
Celery Calories Per Cup: 16
Another great example of a zero-calorie food is celery. Eat some celery sticks to start boosting your metabolism and burning more calories than you are consuming indigestion alone. High in fiber and vitamins like many other negative calorie foods on this list.
Crunchy with high water and fiber inside. An extremely high-volume food, you can eat celery all day. A great snack for someone like myself who loves to snack on crunchy foods, much better than a bag of chips.
Add a little peanut butter on top and you have yourself a great post-workout snack. #winning
Carrots Calories Per Carrot: 16
Carrots are extremely low in saturated fat and cholesterol. These colorful vegetables are full of fiber to help regulate you on the potty. Carrots are also great because they are so cheap!
Great to add to salads, soups, stews, and as a side dish.
Mushrooms Calories Per Cup: 15
Portobello, White Button, and Shiitake are some of the most common mushrooms. Luckily, all mushrooms contain some form of immune-boosting antioxidants, in conjunction with metal, B vitamins, and fiber.
I know a lot of people that are not fans of mushrooms; I used to be one of them. After I had some mushrooms sautéed and put on top of a nice medium well steak it was game over.
Mushrooms can be a great addition to almost any salad, omelet, or stew. Stuffed mushrooms are one of our favorites, but most of the time they are drenched in butter so it negates the health effects of eating negative-calorie foods
Calories Per Pickle: 6!
Pickles can be a great snack as they are low in calories. Watch out for the sodium content in these little guys though they can be quite high, so don’t eat them in high volume.
A great crunchy, sweet and salty snack on any summer day. We love having pickles in the fridge for low-calorie snacks while dieting.
20. Yellow Mustard
Mustard Calories: 4 calories per tsp……basically ZERO!
This is not much of a food, but I thought it deserved some credit on this list. Most condiments put on food regularly i.e. ketchup, BBQ sauce, mayo, ranch, etc. are terrible for you. They are very high in sugars, fats, and calories.
If you are dieting and trying to cut calories mustard can become your best friend. We love putting mustard on pretzels as a great snack, also very good on burgers.
After finding out for myself that mustard was basically a zero-calorie food, I started using it exclusively with my foods.
21. Franks RedHot
Calories: 1 per serving… ZERO
Franks RedHot sauce is a freaking life changer! After finding it was one of the lowest-calorie foods on our list. I started putting it on EVERYTHING. We talked about hot peppers above and how it triggers your body to burn up to an extra 50 calories while consuming, well Franks is right in that category.
For zero calories, the options are endless. Putting hot sauce on foods always seems to make me eat slower, which in turn makes me eat less. Franks RedHot is an absolute beast when it comes to losing weight.
Who would have thought Franks Redhot would make a list of the best superfoods?!
22. Green Beans
Calories Per Cup: 31
Green beans are a great way to limit your intake of calories. Negative-calorie foods will help you lose weight without any extra effort, so go ahead and add these healthy vegetables!
A balanced diet high in fiber-rich low calorie fruits and vegetables can help reduce cholesterol levels too – perfect if you want an attractive figure with clear skin for summertime parties this year!
Calories Per Cup: 16
Cucumbers are one of the best negative-calorie foods to eat for weight loss because they are mostly water.
They also contain antioxidants and minerals like potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure. Plus, cucumbers are a great source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health.
All in all, cucumbers make a great addition to any healthy diet plan looking to cut calories or improve overall health.
Calories Per Cup: 19
Zucchini is a great zero-calorie food to eat if you’re trying to get healthier because it’s low in calories and high in fiber. Fiber helps you feel full after eating, so you’re less likely to overindulge.
Plus, zucchini is a nutrient-rich vegetable that provides a variety of antioxidants and other health benefits.
If you’re looking for healthy ways to shed pounds, be sure to include zucchini in your diet!
Calories Per Cup: 6
Arugula is a versatile negative-calorie food to eat because it is a leafy green vegetable that is high in fiber and contains only minimal amounts of carbohydrates.
One cup of arugula contains only three grams of carbohydrates, which makes it a good choice for people who are following a low-carbohydrate, or keto diet.
Arugula also contains more than two grams of fiber per cup, so it can help you stay full after eating it. Additionally, arugula is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, as well as folate.
Calories Per Cup: 45
Watermelon is a low-calorie fruit that is a great source of vitamin C. It also contains potassium, which can help to regulate blood pressure.
Additionally, watermelon contains lycopene, an antioxidant that may help to protect cells from damage. Watermelon is also a good source of hydration and can help to rehydrate the body after exercise.
Oatmeal Calories Per Serving: 159
Oatmeal is a great breakfast food that is high in dietary fiber and protein, both of which help you feel fuller longer. In addition, oatmeal contains complex carbs that give you sustained energy throughout the morning.
Oats also have a low glycemic index, which means they won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels like many other carb-rich foods.
Overall, oatmeal is an excellent choice for a healthy breakfast that will help keep you feeling full and energized all morning long. And as an added bonus, it’s considered an extremely healthy food because it has so many health benefits!
Calories Per Egg: 78
Eggs are a superfood that is packed with high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals. They also contain healthy fats and cholesterol.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, which is important for building and maintaining muscle mass.
Calories Per Apple: 75
An apple a day really does keep the doctor away! Apples are packed with important antioxidants and nutrients, such as Vitamin C, that are essential for optimal health.
Plus, they’re a great source of fiber which can help you stay full and satisfied throughout the day. So make sure to add an apple or two to your daily diet!
Popcorn Calories Per Cup: 35
Popcorn is one of my favorite low-calorie snacks because it’s whole grain. Whole grains are packed with fiber, which helps keep you full and satisfied between meals.
Plus, popcorn is low in calories and contains no added sugar or unhealthy fats. So if you’re looking for a healthy snack that will help you stay on track with your diet, popcorn is definitely a good option! Just make sure you don’t overdo it with salt and butter.
Calories Per Wedge: 26
Cantaloupe is a healthy low calorie fruit that is high in water content and dietary fiber, and low in calories. One cup of diced cantaloupe contains just 60 calories, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a healthy snack with few calories.
Near Zero Calorie Foods FAQ
What are the best low-calorie foods?
There are a lot of almost zero-calorie foods out there. You just need to be mindful of the ingredients.
Some good options include celery, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and other low-calorie vegetables. Avoid dressings and sauces, as these can quickly add up in calories. Instead, try seasoning your food with herbs and spices.
Another great option is fruit. Just be careful of fruits that are high in sugar, like mangos and pineapples. Stick to tart fruits like cranberries and raspberries instead. And always go for fresh fruit over processed fruit snacks.
What happens when you eat a negative calorie balance?
When you eat a negative calorie balance, your body begins to break down stored fat to use as energy. This can result in weight loss, although it’s not guaranteed.
Your body burns more calories than it takes in when you’re in a negative calorie balance, which is why this approach to weight loss is sometimes called “calorie counting” or “counting calories”.
It’s important to note that a zero-calorie diet isn’t sustainable in the long term and shouldn’t be used as your only weight-loss strategy.
How many calories should you eat a day?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on many factors such as weight, age, activity level, and body composition. However, on average, women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day and men need between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day.
That being said, it’s important to remember that everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for another. The best way to determine how many calories you should eat is to speak with a registered dietitian who can help you create a personalized nutritional meal plan.
You can also try a meal planning template to help keep your eating habits on track.
So there you have it! Thirty-one negative-calorie foods can help boost your metabolism and help you lose weight. These are all healthy, nutrient-rich options that will keep you feeling full and satisfied without any weight gain.
Be sure to add them to your diet and watch the weight loss melt away. Don’t worry, your grocery budget will not change by purchasing more produce. Trade out the chips for a bag of carrots and hot sauce.
Negative-calorie foods that make you feel full are far better for you than those high-calorie bags of chips.