Not-quite skinny bit*h.
August 6, 2009 6:10 AM   Subscribe

Help me lose the last 15 lbs! Recommend your favorite secret low-calorie foods.

I've been on a diet since the end of February and have lost 45 lbs so far. I'm super psyched about it and could keep going how I've been for longer I'm sure.

I've been eating about 1200 calories a day with my secret weapon being oatmeal, eating 100 calorie servings several times a day.

Other foods that have been a staple in this 'diet' are:

Fiber One bars and cereal.
Dannon Light and Fit yogurt.
Low-sodium turkey lunch meat.
String cheese.
Obviously fruits and vegetables and tons of water (and crystal light)

I never 'gave up' any particular foods, I just keep a food journal and count up to 1200 calories every day. So if I splurge it just counts against my days calories. Therefore, I generally don't eat splurge-y foods.

So I'm wondering, for the low-calorie diet followers out there... what do you suggest in order to make the most out of my 1200 calories a day. Any personal favorites or 'secret weapons'?
posted by mittenbex to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
Congratulations on your weight loss!

Here are some low calorie "splurges":

Sugar free fudgesicles. 45 calories per stick.
Laughing cow low-fat swiss cheese wedges. 35 calories a wedge. (wonderful on celery)
Becks Ultra Light Beer. 65 calories a bottle.

I eat lots of salads with chopped up boiled egg, smoked salmon or turkey on them. I use low fat cottage cheese instead of dressing. I also make a lot of raw veggie salads (cucumber, tomato, zucchini with garbanzo beans in a vinagrette). I also grill a lot of skinless chicken breasts, fish and veggies in the summer.
posted by pluckysparrow at 6:27 AM on August 6, 2009 [5 favorites]

Two zero calorie foods:

Dill pickles, not bread-and-butter.
Mustard as a sandwich condiment.

As mentioned, Fudgesicles / pudding pops are probably the best way to get to an "ice cream" desert, except that there are usually a lot in a box, and it's really easy to eat a few.
posted by smackfu at 6:30 AM on August 6, 2009

Whoa, isn't Crystal Lite mostly high fructose corn syrup?

I like Morningstar Farms "chicken" patties and veg burgers. Only about 150 cals each, IIRC, and very filling. Unfortunately, since they're so heavily processed, they're not that really all that good for you, but they sure are handy for the office microwave. And obviously still better for you than, say, a Big Mac.
posted by scratch at 6:36 AM on August 6, 2009

Also, congrats on losing so much! You're better than me.
posted by scratch at 6:36 AM on August 6, 2009

Since you've been so successful, you probably already know this, but just in case- Subway can be really bad or pretty good, based on what toppings you get.

Other than that, you're eating the same foods I did when I lost weight. I also ate canned tuna, chicken breast, and shrimp, and I noticed that spicier foods seemed more filling.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:38 AM on August 6, 2009

What does 200 kcal look like?

You may find this useful.
posted by Loto at 6:38 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I typically eat celery with hummus when I'm being healthy. It's best if you can make your own, but store-bought is also fine.

In general, I find steamed vegetables are also a great way to fill up without the calorie load. I'll go to the store and buy an assortment, usually including onions and broccoli, but I'll add different things like cauliflower, string beans, eggplant, etc. I actually eat these for lunch at work. I use a rice cooker and put a vegetable steamer basket inside of it. Typically, this comes out great, though one time I tried using kale and it ruined the whole dish. Of course you could also add some spices at the end (though it still tastes good if you don't). I like spicy things so if I add something it's usually chile powder or fresh-ground black pepper, but you should follow your own tastes there.
posted by scrutiny at 6:40 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Spring rolls. Get some cellophane rice, cilantro, mint and other herbs, along with a little baked chicken and enjoy. Very tasty and fairly low cal.
posted by reenum at 6:46 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

I love plain air-popped popcorn. A low-calorie, tasty snack. The crunch is also pretty satisfying.
posted by yawper at 6:48 AM on August 6, 2009

In the UK you can get this hot chocolate mix called Cadbury's Options. In the US I'm sure you can get something similar. They're about 35 calories each and I find they end an evening meal very well, as you feel like you've had a dessert. Also, replacing a meal every now and then with a slimfast shake isn't that bad - some of them are quite tasty. Snack-a-Jacks are light rice crisps with lots of different flavors available - in the states you can get rice cakes and hopefully they come in different flavors. Popcorn can be popped by just putting some kernals in a brown paper bag, folding it up and putting it in the microwave for a few minutes on high, then add some butter spray and salt or salt-substitute. And if you feel like baking, a big slice of fat-free vegan peach cake is only 150 calories.
posted by hazyjane at 6:48 AM on August 6, 2009

Whoa, isn't Crystal Lite mostly high fructose corn syrup?
If so, there's only a tiny bit, since an 8-ounce serving has only 5 calories.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:56 AM on August 6, 2009

I have found that after months of dieting low-calorie by loss/month tapers off UNLESS I start watching carbs (mainly "white" carbs). So my low cal snack ideas would be low carb things - walnuts, beef jerkey, protein shakes, omelettes, etc.

Good luck!
posted by wolfkult at 7:00 AM on August 6, 2009

Whoa, isn't Crystal Lite mostly high fructose corn syrup?

Yeah, you must be thinking of something else. Crystal Lite is basically diet Kool-Aid, with artifiical sweeteners instead of the sugar.
posted by smackfu at 7:03 AM on August 6, 2009

Hard boiled egg whites with pepper and just a little tiny bit of salt.
Almonds (they ARE caloric BUT very satisfying and many healthful diets recommend them because they have fiber and protein)
Low or non fat greek yougurt with a few berries.
Smoothies (the Abs Diet books have very tasty ones)

A favorite snack
Slice zucchini into thin coins. Grate a little fresh ginger on them to taste and a few squirts of lemon juice. Shake on some reduced-sodium soy sauce. OMG delishus.

posted by pointystick at 7:14 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

I know you already eat fruits and vegetables, but check out raw vegan recipes. I started trying them, because I don't have access to a microwave. I wanted something I could make on the go. However, I've noticed that raw food tends to fill me up faster. Plus, some of the recipes are really, really good.
posted by larkin123 at 7:19 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Kashi GoLean cereal. Only the original one, not Kashi GoLean Crunch (which is much tastier, but not as good for you).

One cup of the cereal has 140 calories, only 10 calories from fat, 13 grams protein and 10 grams fiber. After you eat it, you just aren't hungry for quite a while.
posted by Houstonian at 7:20 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

There are all sorts of flavored rice cakes, and they are damn good. The ones I have now (crackerjack and chocolate peanut butter) are 60 calories each.
posted by amro at 7:24 AM on August 6, 2009

I'll second popcorn. The light popcorn I buy has about 60 calories for an entire regular-sized bag. You can also buy 100-calorie bags of the more buttery variety.

I also would second smoothies as a meal - I made smoothies with non-fat vanilla yogurt, skim milk, and frozen fruit (sometimes a splash of orange juice to thin it out). I include lots of fruit to make them nice and thick, and they really fill me up.

I like salads A LOT. Just watching the dressing, and you should be fine. You can pile on lots and lots of veggies (and sometime some feta cheese crumbles or slices of grilled chicken if you have room in your calorie count).

Check out cereal and skim milk, this is a little more spurge-y, but (depending on the variety, of course) I can have about 1.5 servings of cereal and 1 serving of skim milk for ~250 calories. It's a good way to change things up because you can just swap out different types of cereal, just make sure you check nutrition labels.

I also drink iced tea without sugar, yum!

Also, you may already be using this, but I really like using The Daily Plate for my food log. It's also a great way to discover what foods others are eating.
posted by nuclear_soup at 7:43 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

My story is the same as yours. I recently lost about 45 pounds. I still need to lose the last 10 or so.

My secrets: If you are tempted to splurge, eat a normal portion first and wait a minute. See if you still want more (I never did).

1. Oatmeal w/ milk
2. Apple / Banana
3. Chicken
4. Burrito (a quick homemade meal of tortilla, beans, cheese, tomatoes, hot sauce)
5. Tunafish salad sandwiches
6. Popcorn (a little canola oil in a pan with kernels. making it yourself is faster and better tasting)
7. Hummus or White bean dip. (blend beans w/ parsley, mint, and paprika)

Anyway, I pretty much stuck to these. The other killer secret is that I walked my dog every day for 40 mins. You don't have to kill yourself with exercise, but if you haven't been doing any even a little will help a lot.

Congratulations! Isn't it weird to have that weight off? :-)
posted by xammerboy at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sparkling water: whatever you plan to eat, have a good glass of sparkling water beforehand so your body isn't mistaking thirst for hunger.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yes, definitely popcorn. I like the kettle corn variety, and I was really surprised to see that the kind I bought had something like 170 calories for the whole bag.
posted by joshrholloway at 8:34 AM on August 6, 2009

Oh, but you are asking about how to lose the last 10 pounds? I would eat strictly oatmeal for bfast, an apple (or even two) for lunch, burrito or chicken for dinner, and popcorn as dessert. Be sure to walk.
posted by xammerboy at 8:46 AM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

IME, for the "last 15" if I were you I'd stop the hard-core diet part and start moving toward maintenance. Cut your expected loss rate in half. Exercise a lot, including weights. Shoot for 1lb/week loss rate, no more. Stop worring about the scale and more about the tape.

1lb/week is a 500kcal/day deficit. Try to get this through exercise not just undereating.
posted by @troy at 8:50 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

If you like sweet iced tea, try brewing some Good Earth original Sweet and Spicy tea. It tastes naturally sweet, and makes a really killer iced tea. I stick a couple tea bags in a pitcher with some hot water every night before bed, take out the teabags and put the pitcher in the fridge in the morning, and when I come home from work I have a nice pitcher of strong iced tea that I drink my way through over the course of the evening (I put lots of ice in my glass -- drinking beverages ice-cold burns more calories because your body has to work harder to warm them up to body temp).

Seriously, try the Good Earth original tea. It's hard to believe there's no sugar in it -- it is so good!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:01 AM on August 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

Instant oatmeal - I use the Kirkland (Costco) organic brand. Quick, a little sweet and very satisfying.
posted by terrierhead at 9:13 AM on August 6, 2009

Raw baby carrots. By the bagfull. A 12 oz bag is around 140 calories. I go through a bag a day. Grab a handfull whenever you are hungry. If you are just bored and into the "mindless eating" thing, they are a lifesaver. The crunch keeps your mouth busy and the carrots fill your stomach nicely.
posted by tzuzie at 9:38 AM on August 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Another good tip: don't eat standing up or walking about. The calories you get from poking about in the fridge, or eating stuff while you do something else stack up.

If you can restrict your eating to actual meals you may find you break the habit of snacking.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2009

Response by poster: MuffinMan, thanks for the tip but just FYI. Most people can probably attest to this - eating more frequently but in smaller portions tends to keep you full and stop you from overeating come whatever you consider 'meal' time.

I think this works better with women because our metabolisms are different then men. It didn't work for my boyfriend, he didn't like eating when he wasn't 'hungry'. To each their own though.

I guess my point was that I don't want to stop 'snacking'. I just want to keep eating healthy snacks and stay within my designated calorie range.
posted by mittenbex at 12:06 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I find hummus to be a weird suggestion - all the ones I've ever bought (even reduced-fat varieties) are quite high in calories.

When dieting, I do as you do - strictly count cals without cutting certain things out. Some of my classics:

Gazpacho - I use this recipe and add chopped cucumber and tabasco
nthing homemade smoothies as a meal (low fat yougurt + frozen fruits + Splenda)
"Wrap pizzas" - take a wrap, top with canned chopped tomatoes, low-fat mozzarella, thinly-sliced ham (the type that is mostly water), and tons of herbs. Stick in a hot oven for 10 minutes. I often eat two of these for dinner.
Oven-roasted tomatoes
Steak-cut oven fries
Morningstar Farms fake chicken nuggets or fake mini corndogs
Wraps made with plenty of nice lettuce to help fill you up - one of my favs is baby leaf lettuce, crab sticks, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, pepper, a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, herbs
Sugar-free Jello or sugar-free instant pudding + Fat-free Cool Whip
Rice Krispy treats
Rye crispbread + various toppings (like salsa, low sugar jam)
If I crave junk I get a McDonald's Happy Meal...not actually that many cals when compared with junk like pizza/chain restaurants
This is obvious, but I love 100 cal packs. We don't have them here in the UK, wahhh!

Well done with your weight loss - I'm super impressed/jealous!
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 1:37 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I like to use plain unsweetened Chobani Greek-style yogurt as a dip for fruit and veg. It's thick enough that it kind of has the mouth feel and tang of sour cream dips, but it's fat free and a one cup serving (which is half the tub -- more than you'd eat when used as a dip for a snak) has 140 calories and 23g protein.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:33 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, and whole dates + Chobani is pure heaven. You do have to limit the amount of dates as they are high in sugar but as a now and then treat it's very satisfying.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:35 PM on August 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I almost forgot. Water. Drink lots of water. If one of the ice tea things help, drink those. Feel hungry? Drink water. A multivitamin will help give you energy.
posted by xammerboy at 10:48 PM on August 6, 2009

Tea. Lots and lots of herbal tea. Love the stuff, has almost no calories.

Also instant miso soup. Salty, so may cause bloat, but very yummy.

Note that you may have to change your method for the last few pounds. I haven't experienced it, having quite a few pounds to go before I get to that point, but I believe it is pretty easy for your body to go into so called "starvation mode" when you don't have much left to lose.
posted by kjs4 at 5:29 AM on August 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Watermelon: 46 calories in 1 cup
Canteloupe: 53 calories in 1 cup
Honeydew: 61 calories in 1 cup

Seriously, you can eat a lot of watermelon for not a lot of calories.

Congrats on losing 45 pounds! That's awesome.
posted by kristi at 10:12 AM on August 7, 2009

Kix cereal is my newest find (I bought it for my kids) and probably decent to snack on. (I'm always looking for a non-sugary, low-cal cereal to eat for breakfast or to snack on.)

The Greek yogurt that Stonyfield Farm makes has like 80 calories per cup, and is nonfat.

Roasted button mushrooms. Mmmm. (Just use a liiiiitle olive oil or a spray, maybe and roast them in the oven. So yum!)

Sweet potatoes (roasted, perhaps.)

Congrats on the weight loss! I need to get started again.
posted by pyjammy at 12:29 PM on August 7, 2009

Congratulations on your progress so far! Even if you decide not to lose any more weight you've done great things for your health. When I was losing weight, my staple low cal foods were Kashi GoLean, air-popped popcorn with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on top (SO much yummier than the greasy stuff out of the bag), and LOTS of seltzer water. And tea. If I needed to munch on something, I grabbed baby carrots or grape tomatoes instead of pretzels or whatnot. Lowfat cottage cheese also makes a filling snack or meal if you throw on some apples or something.

And, speaking of the GoLean, my favorite "splurge" breakfast consisted of microwaving sliced apples, sprinkling them with cinnamon, and topping it off with some GoLean crunch. It was like apple crisp, but high in fiber and with some protein.

For chocolate cravings, I might add some unsweetened cocoa powder and splenda to my oatmeal. Unsweetened cocoa (especially dutched) makes things so rich with minimal calories. I always have several containers in the pantry.

I'll note too that I found that whenever I reached a plateau and needed to cut something, the most effective way to start losing again was to ditch a starchy food. Like I'd have two vegetables with my dinner instead of a vegetable and a potato or something, and I made sandwiches for a lunch an occasional deal, favoring a large salad or roasted vegetables instead of the bread.

Good luck with the final stretch!
posted by moutonoir at 1:55 PM on August 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

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