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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
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Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 12. To lose weight, you must decrease your calories or increase your exercise. Foods that are low in fat are often low in calories, too. Those foods can help you achieve a diet that is low in total calories so that you can create a calorie deficit and lose weight.
Most vegetables are low in both calories and fat. Examples are lettuce, leafy greens like spinach and kale, cucumbers, cabbage, cauliflower and eggplant. A cup of cooked broccoli has 55 calories and less than a half-gram of fat, and a large cucumber has 45 calories and almost no fat. Although most vegetables are low in fat and calories, there are some exceptions. Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes are low in fat but not calories, with about 130 calories and almost no fat per small potato. Avocados are high in both fat and calories, with 47 calories and 4 grams of fat per ounce.
While fruit typically has more calories than vegetables because of its higher sugar content, many fruits are still quite low in calories and have almost no fat. Apples, grapes, berries, pears, melon, and citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits are all low in calories and fat. A cup of watermelon has 46 calories and less than a half gram of fat. Bananas are low in fat but somewhat higher in calories, with 130 calories per cup.
Sources of protein that are low in fat are often low in calories, too. Lean protein foods include chicken and turkey breast, reduced fat luncheon meat such as low-fat ham, and lean cuts of pork. Vegetarian sources are egg whites, low fat tofu and low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese. A 3-ounce serving of roasted chicken breast has 3 grams of fat and 142 calories, which is low in comparison with a high fat meat such as a hot dog, which has nearly 300 calories and 15 grams of fat.
Snacks and Condiments
If you choose carefully, you can find a variety of low-calorie and low-fat snack foods and condiments. Reduced-calorie pudding, sugar-free popsicles and fat-free no-sugar-added yogurt are all choices that are low in calories and fat. Plain air-popped popcorn has 30 calories and less than a half gram of fat per cup. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard and soy sauce are low-fat and low-calorie. Low-calorie salad dressing has about 20 calories and half a gram of fat per tablespoon.
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