What are Zero Calorie Foods | Zero-calorie vs Negative-Calorie Foods | How Do Zero-Calorie Foods Help in Intermittent Fasting | Top 25 Zero-calorie Foods for Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an approach that entails fasting for a long duration followed by a specific eating window. The essence of intermittent fasting is that it does not stop you from eating your favorite dishes. Instead, it motivates you to eat within a particular time duration. This means you can enjoy your favorite foods while losing weight and improving your metabolism.
Although intermittent fasting offers a myriad of health benefits, only a handful of people have the fortitude to refrain from eating for the entire fasting window. This eventually results in a failure of the entire fasting plan. But what if you get to know that you can eat during your fasting window without interrupting your fast?
Yes! Whether you are on a weight loss journey or just wish to have some snacks with an insignificant amount of calories, zero-calorie foods can facilitate it.
But are there any calorie-free foods that can be eaten without gaining weight? This article will talk about the concept of zero-calorie foods that help you manage your weight and 25 such foods that have near-zero calories. Let’s start!
What are Zero Calorie Foods?
When you explore the concept of zero-calorie foods there may be various elucidations. The most common interpretation is that these foods do not have any calories. However, it is important to understand that zero-calorie foods do not mean that they are completely calorie-free. Instead, they contain a small amount of calories which have an insignificant effect on the body’s metabolism.
Thus, “zero” in this context implies zero impact on the metabolism rather than zero calories.
If you want to consume some food without breaking your fast then zero-calorie foods are an excellent option. Zero-calorie foods give you a chance to enjoy your meal without having any calorie burden on you. In other words, it is a guilt-free way to eat your food during your fasting period.
Further, it is also essential to know how much energy the food gives that you eat during your fasting period. Sometimes the amount of energy your body requires to digest a particular food equals the number of calories that food offers. Hence, the net energy intake from that particular food is zero. Such foods are labeled as zero-calorie foods.
For example, if food X provides 5 calories, and your body requires 5 calories to digest food X, in that case, the net energy intake is zero. In such a case the food X would be called a zero-calorie food as no calories were added to the body.
Difference between Zero-calorie and Negative-Calorie Foods
Very often zero calorie food is mistaken as negative-calorie food. But they are totally different. When it comes to negative calories foods, the total energy intake value is usually less than the energy required to digest the food. It so happens because negative calorie foods have fewer calories than required.
However, if you wonder which method is more effective for weight loss, rest assured that both approaches equally work.
How Do Zero-Calorie Foods Help in Intermittent Fasting?
Before going further deep as to how zero-calorie foods help in intermittent fasting let’s first understand the role of intermittent fasting in your body. Intermittent fasting is an ideal approach that can help maintain a perfect body weight. It also helps improve your metabolic functions and may decrease the risk of developing diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiac disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Further intermittent fasting helps increase longevity by promoting autophagy in the body, a cellular repair process that eliminates waste material from the body.
With so many choices, it is really easy to follow intermittent fasting. For example, with time-restricted eating you can fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8-hour window. Similarly, with the 5:2 method, you can eat normally for 5 days a week and fast for two non-consecutive days where you are allowed to take in a maximum of 500 calories per day.
The motto of intermittent fasting is to put your body into an energy deficit where it starts burning its fat reserve to get energy. This in turn results in fat loss and hence, weight loss.
While intermittent fasting has various benefits, it is difficult to fast for longer hours. You may encounter food cravings at times. Further, diabetic people cannot fast for long hours and need to eat food at regular intervals. Even intermittent fasting experts do not recommend staying without food for longer hours because keeping your body refrained from food for long may severely go wrong since your body may start to preserve fats to encounter starvation.
Keeping all these factors into consideration, zero-calorie foods are good alternatives for the dieters because consuming these foods won’t break the fast and their intermittent fasting is not going to be hampered. Furthermore, doing intermittent fasting with zero-calorie foods is more beneficial during your weight loss journey.
Plus, substituting some calorie-dense foods with low-calorie or zero-calorie foods can help promote healthy weight loss and may improve other health parameters as well. For example, you normally consume eggs with donuts in your breakfast. Now replacing the donut with an apple or some sautéed vegetables not only gives you more nutrients but also reduces your calorie intake significantly.
Want to know more about intermittent fasting? Visit our page “Intermittent Fasting – The Ultimate Guide To Lose Weight And Feel Great”
Top 25 Zero-calorie Foods for Intermittent Fasting
Here is the list of the top 25 zero-calorie foods.
These are highly nutritious and one of the most sought-after fruits for weight loss all across the world. One cup (109 grams) of sliced apples contains 62 calories and about 3 grams of dietary fiber. Apples are not only less in calories but they also provide nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Besides, apples contain several phytochemicals, such as catechin, quercetin, chlorogenic acid, and phloridzin, all of which are strong antioxidants.
It is a dark leafy green vegetable that belongs to the annual herb of the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is grown for its pungent edible leaves. It belongs to the same family such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, and collard greens. Arugula is majorly used in salads and is a rich source of vitamin K folate, calcium, and potassium. One cup (20 grams) of arugula contains only 5 calories which is why it is considered as one of the zero-calorie foods.
Asparagus is an herbaceous, perennial flowering vegetable belonging to the Liliaceae family. It comes in green, purple, and white varieties. Asparagus contains vitamins E, C, and B9, various minerals such as potassium, copper, calcium, iron, and phosphorus, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
One cup (180 grams) of cooked asparagus contains only 38 calories and is filled with vitamin K and folate.
Beetroots are root vegetables that come in various colors like red and orange. Beetroots are a good source of folate and manganese. They also contain phytonutrients like betalains and phenolic compounds that help promote heart health.
One cup of cooked beetroots (170 grams) has 74 calories and contributes 17% of the daily value (DV) for folate and 12% of the DV for manganese.
One cup (155 grams) of cooked broccoli has only 54 calories and is rich in vitamin C which is required for the human body. You can eat broccoli cooked with meals or as a no-calorie snack.
6. Brussels Sprouts
It bears a resemblance to the mini cabbages and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is also a part of the cruciferous vegetable family. Brussels sprouts are a rich source of vitamin C, a nutrient that helps protect the body’s cells against oxidative damage.
One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts (155 grams) contains only 70 calories which can be a perfect zero-calorie snack for you in your intermittent fasting regimen.
It is another cruciferous vegetable from the Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae) family. It comes in various colors such as green, white, and red. It is a delicious no-calorie snack that can be added to slaws and salads and is an essential ingredient in dishes like kimchi and sauerkraut. It provides only 22 calories per cup (89 grams).
These are slightly sweet, crunchy, and are full of nutrients. They come in various colors including orange, pink, purple, and white. Carrots are filled with nutritious compounds like carotenoids, including lutein and beta carotene, which are essential for good eyesight, better immunity, and many more. Beta carotene in carrots is a carotenoid that gets converted into the active vitamin A in the body.
One cup of sliced carrots provides only 50 calories and more than 100% of DV for vitamin A. It can be eaten in soup, steamed, baked, stir-fried, or boiled forms.
Cauliflower comes in various colors including white, purple, orange, and yellow. It has become one of the popular substitutes for higher cab vegetables or grains in recent years. For example, cauliflower pizza crusts or cauliflower rice are some popular low-carb recipes.
A cup of cooked cauliflower (155 grams) gives only 40 calories and only 8 grams of carbs which makes it the most sought-after 0-calorie food for fasting.
Celery is very low in calories since it contains a high amount of water. Adding celery stick with natural peanut butter and sprinkling some raisins on it makes it a classic morning snack food with no calories. It is because one full cup of celery (120 grams) gives out only 17 calories which is perfect 0 calorie foods for fasting.
Chard is a leafy green vegetable that has several varieties. It is a rich source of vitamin K which is a nutrient required for blood clotting and healthy bones. One cup of chard (36 grams) contains only 7 calories and has 249% of the DV for vitamin K.
These have a resemblance to mini oranges. These are common snacks with zero calories and are popular for their vitamin C content. One fruit (74 grams) has only 35 calories and contributes to 40% of the DV for vitamin C.
Commonly used in salads cucumbers are very refreshing. They are also used to flavor water along with herbs and fruits and are also used as a low-calorie base for high-protein dishes such as chicken or tuna salad. A half cup of cucumbers (52 grams) provides only 8 calories due to their high water content.
Fennel is a small, enlarged, flattened stem-based plant that forms a bulbous structure and is eaten as a vegetable. It is rich in several nutrients namely vitamin C and potassium. Dried fennel seeds are used as spices and flavoring agents as well.
Fennel can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or roasted. A cup of raw fennel (87 grams) gives out only 27 calories which makes it a perfect zero-calorie food.
Being a citrus fruit, grapefruit is popular for its tart flavor. Grapefruit slices can be enjoyed on their own or as topping over yogurt, salads, or fish. This fruit is a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These citrus fruits have anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, as well as cardiovascular protective and neuroprotective effects.
Half a grapefruit (123 grams) has only 37 calories.
16. Iceberg Lettuce
Iceberg lettuce contains high water. It is usually used in salads and as a topping in burgers and sandwiches. Iceberg lettuce is highly nutritious and is rich in vitamin K, provitamin A, and folate. A cup of iceberg lettuce (57 grams) gives only 8 calories which makes it an authentic zero-calorie food. While intermittent fasting, you can use this vegetable in salads.
Having a resemblance to potato, jicama is a tuber vegetable. It is commonly eaten raw and has a similar texture to that of a crisp apple. Jicama is high in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. A cup of raw jicama (130 grams) provides only 49 calories and 29% of the DV for vitamin C.
Because of its striking nutritional compounds kale has gained popularity in recent years. Kale can be used in salads, smoothies, and even vegetable dishes. It contains high amounts of provitamin A, vitamins C and K, manganese, and copper.
A cup of cooked kale (130 grams) has 49 calories only and more than 100% of the DV for vitamins C and K.
19. White Mushrooms
Mushrooms neither constitute any vegetable nor a form of any meat. Rather they are the reproductive structure of certain types of fungi. Mushrooms act as antibacterial, immune system enhancers, and cholesterol-lowering agents; moreover, they are essential sources of bioactive compounds.
Mushrooms are popular because they are low in calories, carbs, and sodium. Plus, they contain highly nutritious compounds including potassium, selenium, niacin, riboflavin, proteins, fiber, and vitamin D. Mushrooms can be considered a perfect zero-calorie food because a cup of cooked mushrooms (156 grams) has only 44 calories.
Onions are low in calories and have been associated with various health benefits. Studies exhibit that allium vegetables such as onion and garlic help reduce the risk of health conditions such as hypertension, and heart and kidney disease. A 100-gram cooked onion has only 47 calories.
Peppers come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. However, popular types include bell peppers and jalapenos. Research shows that bell peppers are especially rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and lycopene. A cup of sliced red bell pepper (92 grams) has only 24 calories.
Radishes are a type of root vegetable that tastes crunchy and has a pungent flavor. They come in different colors such as white, red, purple, yellow, and green to black, but the flesh is usually white. Radishes are a good source of vitamin C potassium and folate.
One cup of sliced radish has only 19 calories which can make it a beautiful and nutritious addition to salads and grain bowls.
23. Romaine Lettuce
It is a popular low-calorie green leafy vegetable used in sandwiches or salads. It has a very high water content and is high in fiber. A cup of shredded romaine lettuce (47 grams) gives as low as 8 calories only.
Tomatoes are such a fruit that can be paired well with various ingredients. However, tomatoes alone can be consumed raw, cooked, or pureed in a sauce form. Tomatoes are rich in protective plant compounds such as lycopene. As per studies, a diet rich in tomatoes may help protect against health conditions like heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancers.
One cup of sliced tomatoes (180 grams) contains 32 calories.
25. Black Coffee
While intermittent fasting, you can sip on black coffee in moderation. This flavored drink without milk, sugar, or any other sweeteners contains only 2 calories per 100 grams. A meta-analysis suggested that the biologically active compounds in coffee like caffeine, chlorogenic acid, magnesium, and trigonelline may help in weight loss.
Supplementation of chlorogenic acid helps to reduce body weight, visceral fat mass, and triglycerides. Besides, black coffee has other health benefits like preventing oxidative stress-related and inflammatory diseases and lowering the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
However, you must not go overboard. It is recommended to have 400 mg/day of caffeine or 1-4 cups of black coffee per day only.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are low-calorie foods that are allowed during intermittent fasting?
The best foods to have during intermittent fasting include Black coffee, apples, arugula, beetroots, chards, clementine, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, etc. However, it is also essential to keep yourself sufficiently hydrated during your fasting period.
What are negative calorie foods?
Negative-calorie foods are the ones that provide fewer calories than the calories required to digest the foods. For example, if food A provides 5 calories, and your body requires 10 calories to digest food A, in that case, there is a net calorie loss.
Here, food A would be termed as a negative-calorie food as more calories are required to digest food A in comparison to the calories provided by that food itself.
Is there a snack with 0 calories?
If you talk about snacks with 0 calories, the water is the only option. This means there are no zero-calorie snacks. However, there are myriad of options available for low-calorie snacks that you can enjoy during your fasting period. Some best options include apples, tomatoes, black coffee, chard, carrots, cucumbers, grapefruits, broccoli, cauliflowers, and kale.
The Bottom line
There are plenty of options available when it comes to low-calorie foods. Most of them are fruits and vegetables which are very beneficial for your health. As you have entered into the world of zero-calorie foods for intermittent fasting, you have also discovered how these foods can be consumed during your fasting period so that it does not break your fast.
However, before jumping to any conclusion it is always recommended to seek the right guidance from your healthcare professional or a registered nutritionist. After all, it is a new way of fueling your body. So listen to it carefully and try maintaining the right balance.