The principle behind weight loss is simple: you either have to burn more or eat fewer calories. To lose weight, you need to create an energy (or calorie) deficit by eating fewer calories, increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity or both.

Typically, what is recommended as the safest method is a combination of eating fewer calories and burning calories through physical activity. But here’s the thing, your body needs nutrients, especially if you are going to exercise.

That is why finding the combination of nutrient-dense foods that also have low calories is so essential.

Always consult a doctor when attempting any workout or diet program, or any significant change in your diet.

15 Nutrient Dense Foods

1. Celery

Celery is your classic zero calorie food. Consisting of mostly water, by the time you’re done all that chewing, you’ve probably expended more calories than you’ve consumed. A 100-gram serving contains just 16 calories. Just don’t go overboard with dips or spreads or whatever topping you usually prefer.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is one of my all-time favorite vegetables. In a stir-fry or as a side, I love it. It’s great because it contains a ton of fiber, helping your digestive system, and even some plant protein. There are just 34 calories in a 100-gram serving.

3. Apples

At 52 calories per 100-gram serving, apples have more calories than most of the foods on this list. But filled with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, they’re more than worth it. Personally, I like to eat one as a snack between lunch and dinner to stop me from turning to something a lot less healthy.

4. Cucumber

Growing up cucumbers were one of the few vegetables I liked to eat. Filled with water, they are great for hydration and are delicious when added to a pitcher of water. At 16 calories per 100-grams, they are extremely low in calories and make an excellent addition to any salad.

5. Oranges

I’m not a big fan of oranges, but their health benefits are undeniable. Filled with vitamin C, oranges come in at just 47 calories per 100-gram serving, far fewer than many other fruits.

6. Cabbage

Cabbage has been known to help fight cancer and heart disease. It can also help you lose weight, coming in at just 25 calories per 100 grams. I love cabbage soup, and it’s a great soup to love because it’s so filling and has so few calories.

7. Cauliflower

Cauliflower has anti-inflammatory properties and can help your heart and digestive system. It contains just 25 calories in a 100-gram serving and can be used to make delicious pizza crusts. You may even burn more calories preparing it than you will eating it.

8. Asparagus

Grilled asparagus in the summertime is one of my favorite side dishes. It’s filling but doesn’t have many calories, just 20 in a 100-gram serving.

9. Kale

Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around. For just 49 calories you get a ton of fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and protein. You can try making kale chips, put it in a salad, or I even regularly eat it in wraps.

10. Mushrooms

Pretty much all kinds of mushrooms are low in calories. Chanterelles have just 38 calories in a 100-gram serving, portabellas just 22. Put them in a sauce, a sauté, or even make them into a burger; they add nothing but earthy flavor and nutrients.

11. Carrots

Carrots aren’t just good for your eyesight. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, are a natural diuretic, and can help stabilize your blood sugar levels. All that for just 41 calories per 100-gram serving.

12. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, and so have many of the same benefits, including being low in calories (just 43 per 100 grams). But they aren’t everyone’s favorite vegetable. My sister despises them.

13. Watermelon

Watermelon is another summertime favorite of mine. So sweet and juicy – who would’ve guessed that it is so low in calories? With just 30 in a 100-gram serving and containing loads of beneficial antioxidants, it is a guilt-free treat. It’s even been known to boost your metabolism. Just be sure not to overindulge – something I’m guilty of on occasion.

14. Zucchini

Zucchini has just 17 calories in a 100-gram serving. I love it in a stir-fry or a pasta sauce, but you can use it in a ton of different ways, even in bread.

15. Onions

Onions are the starting point for a lot of different recipes. When I don’t know what I’m doing in the kitchen, I always start with frying some onions in a pan to get some flavor going. It’s nice to know that I’m not adding many calories, just 40 per 100 grams. They also contain beneficial flavonoids.

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