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29 Almost Zero Calorie Snacks To Binge On Without Guilt

almost zero calorie snacks for guilt-free dieting

Snacking has acquired an important place in the public consciousness, thanks to the culture ushered by corporates in the U.S..

Snacking has become a part of mainstream dieting due to various advertisements and pop culture icons.

While we are munching on little tidbits to keep us packed throughout the day, healthy, low calorie foods are relegated to the back shelf.

This list will tell you about 29 such almost zero calorie snack options that are healthy, tasty and cheap.


What Are Zero Calorie Snacks?

Zero calorie snacks is an umbrella term for for healthy, low-calorie foods.

These snacks cannot be technically zero calories but they are nutritious and filling. They are usually high in water content, minerals and many micronutrients. They are minimally processed and have zero added sugar.

zero calorie snack options you can munch on

The most persistent myth about zero calorie foods is that they are negative in Calories. That is, such foods take more energy for digestion than what we get by consuming them.

The most cited examples of zero calorie foods are celery, apples, strawberries and lemons. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the foods, the myth of ‘zero calorie’ should be a relic of the past.

Nothing except water is truly a zero-calorie item that we can consume. The label zero-calorie is attached to make a product more marketable, just like superfoods.

Zero calorie foods are actually low calorie foods. These are good for weight loss as they have low calories, almost zero sugar and zero trans fats. Besides weight loss, they are also pack your diet with essential nutrients and are more fulfilling.

But just because they are low on calories, doesn’t mean that they are boring. Companies such as Rhythm, Hippeas and Crunchman have launched their respective lineups of low calorie snacks. These are perfect for those days when you are simply not in mood to munch on carrot and celery sticks. Try exploring these low calorie snack options to make your healthy snacking journey more fun without the FOMO-

Check these low calorie snacks and pick them over trans-fat laden options for healthy snacking, wherever and whenever you want!


What are the Benefits of Low Calorie Snacks

Low calorie snacks are beneficial in several ways.

They improve our leptin level, deceiving us that we are full. They are the greatest antidote to mindless snacking; foods such as trail mixes, cookies, chips, cheese puffs and even popcorns are dense in unnecessary calories in the form of carbs, unhealthy fats and sodium. There is a stark dichotomy between what are good and bad calories- just like good fats and bad fats.

go for zero calorie snack options

Low calorie snacks are good for the gut. They are easy to break down and keep our stomach filled for a longer duration. While these foods are beneficial, being totally dependent on them is not ideal. Dietitian Lizzie Streit recommends teaming low calorie foods such as the ones in this list, with higher calorie foods like avocados, nuts, and eggs.

Another thing that we usually forget is unmindful snacking. We usually and unknowingly binge on calorie-dense and unhealthy snacks. These can be swapped with such low-calorie alternatives which are healthier and do not compromise on taste in any way.

It is important to have a variety of foods, low in calories or not. Eat minimally processed and nutrient rich foods– a bite of processed snacks does not hurt, but excess quantity does. A healthy diet also contains high calorie fatty foods such as avocado, butter, ghee, dark chocolate, nuts, whole eggs and surprisingly enough cheese. So be mindful of the things that you snack and enjoy!


The Best Low Calorie Snacks List

All of the snacks are fruits and veggies because they are inherently healthy and low in Calories. All of these foods have less than 60 Calories per 100 grams of serving. Many fruits and most of the vegetables are also low sugar foods and low fat foods. They have evolved with very less fat and sugar. They are arranged in alphabetical order.

Apples

Calories: 56 Calories per 100 grams.  USDA  

The forbidden fruit from the Biblical lore is unsurprisingly healthy and supremely popular.

Apples are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C and even antioxidants. So eating this fruit is not a sin. Pair sliced apples with peanut butter or honey to have a gratifying afternoon snack.

To keep the calories low, sprinkle some salt and pepper.


Arugula

Calories: 25 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This punchy green veggie packs a punch in terms of nutrients too. Arugula is filled with folates, potassium, calcium and Vitamin K. These dark leaves are rich in everything except Calories. Try arugula or rocket as the British call it in a variety of salads, soups and even pastas. It goes well with fresh roma tomatoes, aged cheeses and citrus fruits. 

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Asparagus

Calories: 20 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This rather fancy food is low in Calories and is highly versatile. It is packed with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins (A, B12, C, K) and many micronutrients. It is also a zero fat food.

Asparagus is from the family of lilies, onions and garlic, all of which are famous for their distinctive odors. Try asparagus; boiled, steamed or air fried. It tastes well with browned butter, sage and chives.


Beetroot

Calories: 44 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

These bright and poppy root veggies are a source of goodness. Beetroots have most of the B complexes, a family of vitamins. They also have manganese, vitamin c, iron, and some good phytonutrients. Beets can be consumed raw, boiled or oven baked. Beets are also used in cold sandwiches, soups and pickles too! 


Broccoli

Calories: 32 Calories per 100 grams. USDA 

This funky smelling vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients. Be it purple, violet or green. Broccoli supports heart health and heightened consumption is linked with immunity against certain cancers.

It is very rich in vitamins C and vitamin  K.  Broccoli can be consumed by steaming and stir-frying to retain maximum nutrients. Pairing Asian flavors such as soy sauce, chile, garlic, sesame and ginger can elevate the sensory experience of otherwise bland broccoli. 


Brussels Sprouts

Calories: 45 Calories per 100 grams. UDSA

Related to cauliflowers, broccoli, kale and collards, these cruciferous vegetables have a certain pungency common to their other relatives.

They are rich in Vitamin C, Folate and Vitamin B6. They can be stir fried, steamed and roasted on open fire to reduce their pungent smell. The sprouts are mostly consumed in the Euro American cuisines. It is generally seasoned with pepper, balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. 


Cabbage

Calories: 24 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

Cabbage is a staple in east asian cuisines, it is well loved and consumed around the world in different forms. This vegetable is again rich in vitamin C and vitamin K like its broccoli and brussel sprout relatives. 

A common Chinese combination is cabbage julienne added in stews and served with pan seared tofu. Cabbage is richer in nutrients in its fermented form around the world. Sauerkraut in central and eastern europe and kimchi in Korea.


Carrots

Calories: 41 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This root vegetable of Persian origins is healthy and popular across the globe. They are wild in their color palette, carrots can be purple, orange, red, yellow and white too. Their texture is crunchy while the flavor is grassy and slightly sweet.

Carrots can be added to rice dishes, chutneys, cakes, puddings and soups. They are abundant in beta carotene and other carotenoids such as alpha, gamma and lutein.

Fun fact: the seeds and greens of carrot are edible and amply nutritious. 

Cauliflower

Calories: 26 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

Another member of the Brassica genus, this low carb plant is grown in purple, green, white, orange and yellow colors.

The head and leaves are edible while commonly consumed are the florets or flesh. Due to its low carb nature it has gained love in the gluten free movement.

Rice and pizza bases made from cauliflower flour is a common feature in the global north. People also swap cauliflower for mashed potatoes. 


Celery

Calories: 14 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

The flagbearer of the low-calorie foods, celery is 95% water with moderate amounts of vitamins and phytonutrients. It is usually added to soups. Celery is often paired with onions and bell peppers to form the Cajun cuisine trifecta. Try it with hummus or yogurt and sprinkle some Cajun spice blend.


Chard

Calories: 19 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This green leafy vegetable also known as beet spinach is very rich in vitamin K  and it has moderate amounts of vitamin A and C, iron and manganese. Chards have to be boiled and sauteed to reduce bitterness. Couple it with garlic and eggs to make healthy omelets.


Clementine

Calories: 47 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

These tiffin sized fruits are of the citrus family. Their nutrient profile is akin to their siblings such as mandarins, tangerines and satsumas. They have a high vitamin C content. Their texture is fibrous and the flavor is mild yet sweet. 


Cucumbers

Calories: 15 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

The simile for coolness, cucumbers are truly fresh and refreshing. Cucumbers are fundamentally a zero fat food and a zero sugar food too!

They don’t have any significant amount of micronutrients but they can be part of drinks, salsas, salads and sandwiches. Top sliced cucumbers with tajin or make a salad with radishes, sprouts, watermelon and feta for the coolest snack around. 


Fennel

Calories: 31 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

An aromat of the carrot family. Fennel is fragrant and nutritious. It has a high amount of vitamin C and potassium. It has a licorice and anise like flavor. The bulb, the fruits, the leaves and the flowers are all edible.

It can be cooked in a variety of ways and used in salads and spice mix of Chinese and Bengali cuisines. The fruits are also used as a mouth freshener in the Indian subcontinent.

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Grapefruit

Calories: 30 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

These tart and semisweet citrus family members are best enjoyed on their own. Their phytonutrients have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Grapefruits and other citrus are good for the body and therefore should be part of our regular diet. Therefore it is a great low calorie snack.


Kale

Calories: 38 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This superfood has become mainstream in the public consciousness. It is associated with kale chips, soups and smoothies for all the right reasons. Its nutritional profile is very impressive: vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, copper, iron, manganese, folate, and vitamin B6. So try out the famed zero sugar kale chips made with olive oil and flakey salt. 


Mushrooms, White

Calories: 28 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This fungus is often clubbed with vegetables for ease. Mushrooms have a savory, almost meaty flavor. They are rich in vitamin B and selenium. The most common type mushrooms are whites, crimini and portobello all of which are the same. They only differ in maturity.

Mushroom consumption is on the rise because of its nutritional values and textural variety. Whites can be stir fried in a variety of ways; try adding garlic and butter, fresh herbs, or different culinary sauces. They can elevate a dish for vegans and vegetarians with their meaty quality. 


Onions

Calories: 47 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

These are a fundamental part of almost every cuisine. Onions are highly nutritious and flavorful. They are in white, yellow and red varieties. Onions are related to chives, garlic and leeks. These alliums are said to be good for kidney health. These pungent flavors are a common feature in Asian and Mexican cuisines. French onion soup, creamed onions and onion chutney are dishes where onion is the central dish. They make a great base for curries and rice dishes too. 


Peppers

peppers- low calorie foods

Calories:  26 Calories per 100 grams.  USDA

A number of veggies (technically berries) come under the peppers label. Be it the spicy jalapenos or the mild bell peppers. They come in a spectrum of colors, sizes and shapes. Bell peppers or capsicums are high in vitamin C and lycopene. While chile peppers have moderately high amounts of B6. They go very well with east Asian cuisines. 


Papaya

papaya- good zero calorie snacks for weight loss

Calories: 43 Calories per 100 grams.  USDA

This tropical fruit of amber flesh and ebony seeds is a common feature in Asian cuisines. Especially Thai, Filipino and some parts of the Indian subcontinent. Its nutrient contents include vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

Ripe papayas can be eaten directly after removing the skin and seeds. Raw papayas can be added to soups and broths too. 


Radishes

Calories: 16 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

Red, black, green, white, pink, purple and yellow. These are a few varieties of radishes found around the world. They are crisp, sharp in flavor and turn mellow when sauteed. They can be air fried to make chips or added to a bowl of ramen for their kick. When radish is boiled its taste turns potato-like. They also have high content of vitamin C, folate and potassium.


Lettuce

Calories: 17 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This zero calorie hero is usually synonymous with salads and diets because it is essentially a zero sugar food. An average serving of romaine lettuce or other lettuce such as iceberg or butterhead gives only 8 calories. But on the other side, it is low in nutrients too. It has moderate to low levels of folate, vitamin A, and high levels of vitamin K. They are also high in fiber and water content. Their consumption is often filling when paired with slightly fatty and carb-rich foods such as avocados and multigrain bread. 


Strawberries

Calories: 32 Calories per 100 grams.  USDA

A staple for desserts, drinks, perfumes and snacks. This fruit is rich in vitamin C and manganese. Strawberry can be paired with balsamic vinegar, cheese, cream, chocolate and an array of herbs and spices. These can be added to champagne, yogurt, ice cream and even to carbonated drinks. Try this antioxidant rich versatile fruit for sure.  Bonus! It is essentially a fat free food. 


Spinach

Calories: 23 Calories per 100 grams.  USDA

Probably the OG superfood, snacked on by Popeye since 1929.  Spinach is a leafy vegetable that is packed with provitamin A, vitamin K, folate and major carotenoids, this combination is good for the eyes. The best combination for spinach is undoubtedly garlic and butter. Spinach can be blended into soups, and smoothies too. So make this low calorie food a part of your diet. One more! Unsurprisingly enough spinach is a zero sugar food too. 


Peas: Sugar, Snap, Snow

low calorie foods to incorporate in your diet- snap peas

Calories: 42 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

These pod vegetables are zero fat foods and high in protein when made into split dried peas. Peas can be eaten boiled, stir fried or raw if they are tender. They are super filling and eaten around the world in the form of soups, pies or stews. They are well loved in China, the UK, India and Sweden.


Tomatoes

tomatoes- low calorie foods you should eat

Calories: 18 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

The second most consumed vegetable (technically a berry) after potato. These zero calorie fruits are savory and have an umami taste. They can be eaten raw, cooked or in a pureed form. They are extremely versatile but predominantly used in only savory dishes. It gives the dishes a fresh, tangy and acidic flavor, it is usually paired with fatty ingredients to cut the meaty or cheesy flavor. 

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Watercress

watercress- zero sugar food

Calories: 11 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

These tiny leafy veggies are related to other piquant foods such as radish, mustard and wasabi. It is commonly used in salads and cold sandwiches. 100gms of watercress provides 238% of vitamin K, 52% of vitamin C and 20% vitamin A of daily value necessary. Stir fried watercress with ginger and beets can be topped on a buttered bruschetta. 


Watermelon

watermelons- a low calorie snack

Calories: 30 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

The OG summer food. This red-green beauty is packed with vitamin C and the seeds taste great when toasted. Watermelon coolers and fruit salads are the most common form of eating them. It tastes good with fresh mint and feta cheese. Another form is pickled watermelons, this tangy, spicy and sweet dish goes well with meaty and savory flavors in general. Ex: burgers and steak.


Zucchini

Calories: 17 Calories per 100 grams. USDA

This summer squash is a great option for chips, curries and sautees. It has a mild taste therefore it can absorb a variety of different flavors. It is popularly consumed as zoodles or zucchini noodles, as no carb pasta alternatives. It is great when sauteed with butter and garlic. It can be tossed with parmesan or chile oil for an added kick. Or you can eat sliced tender zucchini topped with a dash of lemon, salt and pepper. This will make a proper zero fat/zero sugar snack.


Low Calorie Snacks for Weight-Loss: The Be Zen Take

Losing weight is a challenge for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. If we make sensible and informed decisions, it is possible to lose weight in a healthy way. Healthy snacking is a thing after all- what we need is the right snack.

If you are still flummoxed about what you should eat when those sudden hunger pangs strike you without feeling guilty about it, here are a few tips you can follow-

  • Try going for natural low calorie foods and pair them with condiments to amp the taste. For example- apple slices with peanut butter, carrot chips and sticks with hummus, etc.
  • Choosing low-calorie does not mean that you have to give up on processed snacks. You can still eat low cal chips, yogurt bars and snacks that are made with the best ingredients and do not contain additional sugar.
  • You can try integrating low calorie snacks as a side dish with your main course of the day.
  • We advise having whole foods mentioned in this list to derive the best from them. But who said that you cannot experiment? Try adding berries to that vegan pavlova, or integrate a mix of veggies in a rich soup with your dinner.

Weight loss can be fun and not a task where you have to give something up. We say, it is a lose-lose battle. Healthy eating does not become healthy because everyone around you is doing it. It is healthy because it is the right thing to do.

With that being said, we also advise you to look at low calorie foods beyond them helping you lose that quarantine 15. Take a more balanced (pun, intended) perspective of things. The recommended low calorie picks in this list are also brimming with nutrients, essential minerals and vitamins. In other words, it is not just something that will make you look good, it will also help you feel good.

We also recommend you to not blindly adhere to a diet which includes only these ‘zero’ calorie foods. Let yourself go a little- have that chickpea puff or pack of popcorn if you want to, but don’t slip into an addiction. The main point of healthy snacking is avoiding a negative relationship with food.

The dieting industry’s fixation on zero- fat, sugar and foods, influences an unhealthy pattern where eating is focused on aesthetics and immediate results. This buzzword culture needs to go for a toss, as it encourages exclusive trends that keep diversity out of our diet. This is why you should integrate low calorie snacking that is effective, accessible and safe into your normal diet.

Well-managed eating habits are the key to achieving fitness goals. Diet fads and unwarranted dietary restrictions can only do so much. A well-functioning and fulfilled human body demands adequate nutrition (and a spunk of taste- occasionally!). And guess what, it has an ethical dimension too!

Try products that are made in small batches, on organic farms and those which support local species over invasive ones. Elevate the way you eat and go for a diet that is better for you and better for the planet too!

Want to begin your tryst with healthy snacking? It is time for a switch, not a purge. Opt for these low calorie options to keep yourself filled and your day more active than before. Your journey to a better life begins here.

Stay tuned for more updates like this on the Be Zen blog. Do not forget to subscribe to our Chrome Extension to get recommendations for the healthiest snacks and more.

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