When you are trying to lose or maintain weight, calorie intake will always be a primary consideration. If you consume more calories than your body can use, those unused calories will be stored as body fat. One of the tricks in keeping your total calorie count low is to eat a higher percentage of healthy, low-calorie foods. Your individual daily caloric needs will be determined by factors such as weight, physical activity and metabolism. For example, a 130-pound, moderately active woman will need 1600 to 1700 calories per day.
Vegetables are naturally low in calories. One lettuce leaf has just one calorie and one spinach leaf has only two. One broccoli floweret has three calories, as does one cauliflower floweret. Vegetables with just four calories include one cherry tomato (which is technically a fruit), a medium-sized baby carrot or two tablespoons of seaweed kelp. One celery stalk has six calories and four asparagus spears have 14. Potatoes are often considered to be high in calories. Yet the potato has less than 100 when baked. It is how the potato is served or prepared that adds calories.
Many fruits are low in calories, though some fruits, such as the avocado, are higher in calories than other fruits. Fruit juice and dried fruit are more concentrated, thus these tend to be higher in calories. For a lower-calorie fruit, choose fresh strawberries, which are just four calories per berry. A cantaloupe slice, or 1/8 of a melon, is approximately 24 calories. A small apple has about 60 calories and a raw plum has a little more than half that amount.
Lean proteins are relatively low in calories. One ounce of turkey breast, chicken breast (skin removed), fish fillet (such as sole, flounder or cod), shellfish or tuna (canned in water) has about 35 calories. Other lean proteins include salmon, swordfish, lean beef, lamb or low-fat cheese, which are all approximately 55 calories per ounce. Removing the skin and trimming the fat from a serving of meat can transform it from a high- to a low-calorie serving of protein.
Low Fat and Sugar-Free
Processed snack foods are available that are low in calories. Some snack foods such as sugar-free gelatin, sugar-free pudding or rice cakes have less than 100 calories per serving. Low-calorie snack foods are typically low in fat or sugar-free. Yet, all snack foods marked as "low fat" or "sugar-free" are not necessarily low in calories.