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Reduce calories without sacrificing nutrition

Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

As a veteran dieter, I am always on the lookout for low-calorie foods that I can substitute for higher-calorie options without sacrificing nutrition. Here are some of my favorite go-to options for weight maintenance.

Popcorn –One-third cup of unpopped popcorn has only about 100 calories and pops up into 5 or 6 cups. Invest in a microwave popcorn popper so you can pop your own without all the unhealthy additives and fats found in the commercial microwave varieties.

Unsweetened light almond milk – At 30 calories per cup, almond milk has less than half the calories of skim milk, and I actually prefer the taste on cereal, oatmeal, and in smoothies.  

Old-fashioned oats – I eat oatmeal year round. Hot in the winter and cold (yes, raw and uncooked) folded into yogurt in the summer. It’s chewy, satisfying, and fills your stomach without emptying your wallet. A half cup of whole oats has 150 calories. 

Greek yogurt – Thick, creamy, full of protein, and only 100 calories per cup of the plain, non-fat variety. Add oats (see above) and a cup of your own fresh fruit, and you have a satisfying breakfast for around 300 calories. I also have used it as a substitute for sour cream in dips, in salad dressings, and on tacos and baked potatoes.   

Mushrooms – Meaty and chewy, for me, a large, grilled portobello mushroom on a bun is as good as a burger, and only 30 calories for the mushroom.

Eggs – Eggs are my go-to breakfast on days when I know it will be a long time until lunch. I use one whole egg, one egg white, and two cups of baby spinach cooked in a teaspoon of vegetable oil to make an omelette for less than 200 calories.  

Fiber One Cereal – The original variety has only 60 calories in a half cup. You can eat this with ˝ cup of almond milk and the spinach omelette for a breakfast that has less than 300 calories and will stave off hunger for hours.  

As you can see, protein and fiber are the key elements for most of these foods. Protein takes longer for your body to digest and fiber gives you that feeling of being full. Although I’m not calling them “super foods”, I choose them because they help to fill me up without filling me out. Maybe they could do the same for you.

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