By Anja Springthorpe

Snacking is a habit that is fiercely debated by dietitians, scientists and behaviorists.  Some argue that three balanced meals per day provide all we need, others suggest that frequent but smaller meals support a healthy metabolism and protect from weight gain.  Whatever side of the debate you are on, you probably have experienced cravings for that snack in-between meals. 

Fortunately, there are several snack options that provide great levels of nutrients but keep calories at a low.  But we first need to come clean about the term “zero calorie” snacks.  All foods provide some amount of energy and calories.  Some foods have such a small number of calories that eating and digesting these foods may burn more calories than the food actually contains, therefore creating a zero or negative calorific balance.  It is rather difficult to study exactly how many calories are burned digesting certain foods, and eating any food to actively burn more calories than consumed is unrealistic.  Most “zero calorie” foods contain fiber, vitamins and minerals supporting healthy weight loss, and keeping you full longer.

Reduce calorie intake to avoid piling on the pounds. We also must appreciate that avoiding calories during the day may increase the risk of cravings and overeating during the evening.  Aiming for three larger or five smaller, balanced meals per day, including lean protein, healthy fats and whole grains, will provide sustainable energy and may reduce cravings altogether.  However, if the urge to snack arises, these “zero calorie” foods help keep cravings at bay protecting your waist line: 

Top 20 Zero Calorie Snacks

Celery – 2 stalks = 6 calories

Oranges – ½ fruit = 32 calories

Cucumber – ½ cucumber = 20 calories

Beets ­­­– 2 cooked beets = 40 calories

Bean sprouts – 1 6oz package = 45 calories

Mushrooms – 1 cup sliced mushrooms = 20 calories

Watermelon – 1 cup diced watermelon = 40 calories

Tomato – 1 cup cherry tomatoes = 21 calories

Grapefruit – ½ fruit = 48 calories

Turnips – 1 turnip = 17 calories

Apples – 1 green apple = 48 calories

Carrots – 3 carrots = 30 calories

Raspberries – ½ cup = 32 calories

Strawberries – 1 cup strawberries = 40 calories

Lettuce – 2 cups shredded lettuce = 10 calories

Green beans – 10 green beans = 17 calories

Pineapple – 1 slice pineapple = 23 calories

Home-made kale chips – 1 cup = 50 calories

Zucchini – 1 whole zucchini = 30 calories


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