List of Low Calorie Foods (Eat This, Not That)

Grocery Shopping – ‘Beware”

It’s almost impossible to go grocery shopping and not be tempted by processed foods that are high in sugar and calories. The grocery stores do this to sell more food, so we have to be aware of the ‘up sell’ that’s going on and buy the low-calorie foods that you intended to buy when you walked in the store.

Stores want you to buy more food and the way to do that is market foods that are high in sugar (addicting) and fat (tastes good) content. In other words, the foods that taste good but are really bad for you. They are especially bad because of their addicting qualities.

How to Stay in Control and buy those Low Calorie Foods

The first thing you should do is to have something to eat before you go to the store. Especially the grocery store! I’m sure you’ve heard this before and it’s true – it’s almost impossible to listen to your stomach grumbling and bypass the ready-to-eat processed foods that are within arms reach. Or, better yet, go to the grocery store after your workout. You won’t want to waste all that hard work getting into shape on a snack that may taste good for 5 minutes – but would negate your workout – would you?

But there are other tricks you can use to stay on track, like avoiding the aisle with the Twinkies and Lays Potato Chips (Ruffles, of course). What you put in your cart will make it easier to maintain your ideal weight when you get home. You’ll begin to cook with the alternatives you selected in the grocery store and begin to lose weight with better nutrition. Your waistline will soon thank you for it and you’ll feel better too!

Low Calorie Foods – Alternatives for You

Here are some low calorie food alternatives that will give you some new ideas for old favorites. When making a food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals. Some foods provide most of their calories from sugar and fat but give you few, if any, vitamins and minerals.

This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We encourage you to read labels to find out just how many calories are in the specific products you decide to buy. Simply click on the Print button to print this chart out and bring it with you to the store. You’ll soon be adding to this list with your own substitutions.  Have Fun!!

Low-Calorie, Lower Fat Alternative Foods

These low-calorie alternatives provide new ideas for old favorites. When making a food choice, remember to consider vitamins and minerals. Some foods provide most of their calories from sugar and fat but give you few, if any, vitamins and minerals.

This guide is not meant to be an exhaustive list. We encourage you to read labels to find out just how many calories are in the specific products you decide to buy, then add your items to the list.

Dairy Products

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  • Evaporated whole milk
  •  Evaporated fat-free (skim) or reduced-fat (2%) milk
  •  Whole milk
  • Low-fat (1%), reduced-fat (2%), or fat-free (skim) milk
  •  Ice cream
  •  Sorbet, sherbet, low-fat or fat-free frozen yogurt, or ice cream
  •  Whipping cream
  •  Imitation whipped cream (made with fat-free [skim] milk)
  •  Sour cream
  •  Plain low-fat yogurt
  •  Cream cheese
  •  Neufchatel or “light” cream cheese or fat-free cream cheese
  •  Cheese (cheddar, Swiss, jack)
  •  Reduced-calorie cheese, low-calorie processed cheeses, etc.
  •  Fat-free cheese
  •  American cheese
  •  Fat-free American cheese or other types of fat-free cheeses
  •  Regular (4%) cottage cheese
  •  Low-fat (1%) or reduced-fat (2%) cottage cheese
  •  Whole milk mozzarella cheese
  •  Part-skim milk, low-moisture mozzarella cheese
  •  Whole milk ricotta cheese
  •  Part-skim milk ricotta cheese
  •  Coffee cream (½ and ½) or nondairy creamer (liquid, powder)
  •  Low-fat (1%) or reduced-fat (2%) milk or fat-free dry milk powder

Cereals, Grains, and Pastas

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  •  Ramen noodles
  •  Rice or noodles (spaghetti, macaroni, etc.)
  • Pasta with white sauce (alfredo)
  •  Marinara – pasta with red sauce
  •  Pasta with cheese sauce
  •  Primavera – pasta (with vegetables)
  •  Granola
  •  Bran flakes, crispy rice, etc.
  •  Cooked grits or oatmeal
  •  Reduced-fat granola

Meat, Fish, and Poultry

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  •  Cold cuts or lunch meats (bologna, salami, liverwurst, etc.)
  •  Low-fat cold cuts (95 to 97% fat-free lunch meats, low-fat pressed meats)
  •  Hot dogs (regular)
  •  Lower fat hotdogs
  •  Bacon or sausage
  •  Canadian bacon or lean ham
  •  Regular ground beef
  •  Extra-lean ground beef such as ground round or ground turkey (read labels)
  •  Chicken or turkey with skin, duck, or goose
  •  Chicken or  skin (white meat)
  •  Oil-packed tuna
  •  Water-packed tuna (rinse to reduce sodium content)
  •  Beef (chuck, rib,brisket)
  •  Beef (round, loin)(trimmed of external fat) (choose select grades)
  •  Pork (spareribs, untrimmed loin)
  •  Pork tenderloin or trimmed, lean smoked ham
  •  Frozen breaded fish or fried fish (homemade or commercial)
  •  Fish or shellfish, unbreaded (fresh, frozen, canned in water)
  •  Whole eggs
  •  Egg whites or egg substitutes
  •  Frozen dinners containing more than 13 grams of fat per serving
  •  Frozen dinners containing less than 13 grams of fat per serving and lower in sodium
  • Chorizo sausage
  •  Turkey sausage, drained well (read label)
  •  Vegetarian sausage (made with tofu)

Baked Goods

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  • Croissants, brioches, etc.
  •   Hard french rolls or soft brown ’n serve rolls
  • Donuts, sweet rolls, muffins, scones, or pastries
  •  English muffins, bagels, reduced-fat or fat-free muffins or scones (choose lowest calorie variety)
  • Party crackers
  • Low-fat crackers (choose lowest in sodium)
  • Saltine or soda crackers (choose lowest in sodium)
  • Cake (pound, chocolate, yellow)
  • Cake (angel food, white, gingerbread)
  • Cookies
  • Reduced-fat or fat-free cookies (graham crackers, ginger snaps, fig bars) (choose lowest calorie variety)

Snacks and Sweets

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  •  Nuts
  • Popcorn (air-popped or light microwave), fruits, vegetables
  •  Ice cream, e.g. cones or bars
  • Frozen yogurt, frozen
    fruit or chocolate pudding bars
  •  Custards or puddings
    (made with whole milk)
  • Puddings (made with skim milk)

Fats, Oils, and Salad Dressings

Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  • Regular margarine or butter
  • Light spread margarine,
    diet margarine, or whipped butter, tub or squeeze bottle
  •  Regular mayonnaise
  • Light or diet mayonnaise
    or mustard
  • Regular salad dressings
  • Reduced-calorie or fat-free salad dressings, lemon juice, or plain, herb flavored, or wine
  • Butter or margarine on toast or bread
  • Jelly, jam, or honey on
    bread or toast
  • Oils, shortening, or lard
  • Nonstick  cooking spray for stir-frying or sautéing
  •  As a substitute for oil or butter, use applesauce or prune puree in baked goods


Higher Fat Foods Lower Fat Alternative
  •  Canned cream
  •  Canned broth-based
  •  Canned beans and
  •  Canned baked beans in
    tomato sauce
  •  Gravy (homemade with fat and/or milk)
  •  Gravy mixes made with
    water or homemade with the fat skimmed off and fat-free milk
  •  Fudge sauce
  •  Chocolate syrup
  •  Avocado on sandwiches
  •  Cucumber slices or lettuce leaves
  •  Guacamole dip or refried beans with lard
  •  Salsa

Share with us!What Do You Think

What are your favorite low calorie foods?

What would you never give up!

Thank you for visiting with us today, we hope you find some substitutions that you can try. Remember, even a few substitutions can really add up over the course of a year.

Wishing you the best of health!

Fun low calorie foods that you can make at home for family night, or relaxing with a good movie…

Make your snacks at home! What better way to control the calories, ingredients, and you know it’s fresh. Great for family-time!

Great for Low Calorie Snacks Orville Redenbacher’s Hot Air Popper
by Presto
 Low Calorie Snacks - Potato Chips Microwave Potato Chip Maker
by Home-X
The Ultimate Home Baking Tool for Easy, Low Mess, Homemade, Fat Free Potato Chips
 Low Calorie Snacks - Home Made Ice Cream Classic Original Healthy Dessert Fruit Soft Serve Maker
by Yonanas
Creates Fast Easy Delicious Dairy Free Vegan Alternatives to Ice Cream Frozen Yogurt Sorbet Includes Recipe Book BPA Free, Silver

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Author: Joan E Wilder

We provide information and motivation focused on the importance of physical activity to our quality of life. It is our hope to help people invest in themselves by staying active throughout their lives. It's that important.

10 thoughts

  1. Luckily I’m a fruit and veg junkie but I’m also a chocoholic! If I go shopping when I’m hungry I tend to want all the fast fix food that gives you the immediate burst of energy and then goes. Since my new healthy eating regime started I have a list and I sometimes shop online, I stick to my list. Even in store, I stick with the list. Seeing and feeling the results of the weight loss helps to keep me on track but it is pure willpower that stops me from eating the treats I buy for my parents. I have treats, low calorie, no additives or preservative treats. Jaffa cakes, ice lollies, wholegrain popcorn. Just small servings so that I’m not denying myself…otherwise I’d be straight in to Mom’s chocolate stash!!!

    1. Hi Dawn!
      That’s great to hear that you are finding healthy snacks, but it must be very challenging to go down the isles where your parents snacks are and not indulge – you are AWESOME! I love the idea of creating and sticking to the list – thank you for sharing that.

      I start with my ‘must have’ list and wing the rest. I admit, ice cream is my weakness and I indulge a bit, but don’t overdo it like I used to when I was a larger version of myself :).

      I am sorry your mom and dad have their bad days and hope that writing about it helps you – please remember, you need some time for you.

      Guys, Dawn writes about her experiences at A Touch of Irish I’m sure she’s love some company!

      Thank you for being here today Dawn!

      1. Hi Joan, I’m with you on the ice cream, I love it and it is difficult to not each a huge dish full when I give some to my parents after dinner each night. However, I know how good I feel these days, how I can fit into my clothes and the extra confidence I have so that keeps me away from the dish. I’d rather save it for special days.

        Thank you for your kind words regarding my parents. All things considered they are not too bad at all. I’m only too glad to be here with them and yes you are right, I find it very therapeutic to write my blog about my life, hopes and dreams.

        Great to connect with you 😊

  2. The concept of providing reduced calorie/fat alternatives offers a mixed blessing. It’s great to think about alternative food choices necessary to ultimately improve one’s health. The less desirable down side, however, is that lower calorie/fat foods often are full of chemicals, preservatives, dyes and other artificial ingredients. A shorter simpler grocery list might include: (1) “things that walk,” (2) “things that grow,” and (3) “things that go rancid” in short periods of time. This simple approach will expose people to REAL FOODS offering better quality nutrition including vitamins and minerals.

    Really enjoy your blog site and all the effort into helping people discover better choices.

    1. Thank you Doctor – do you mean diet foods, diet soda or the foods that are marked low-cal or reduced fat?

      That is an important point – it’s very important to eat natural foods (i like that slogan) while ensuring you have good nutrition.

      I appreciate you stopping by and helping clarify – your support is greatly appreciated. And thank you for the kind words. I love sharing what I’m learning!
      Thank you for visiting Doctor, your visits are a pleasure!

      1. Yes Joan, those are examples of “food stuff” choices that people make to reduce calorie intake. Although calories do count, quality REAL FOOD is lower in calories and satiates hunger more efficiently in general. Naturally REAL FOODS high in quality fat are calorie dense.

        Combining quality foods with MOTION/exercise is essential for EVERY LIFE. Most people still believe exercise is recreational and only considered IF time permits. This thinking has been a major component to the CAUSE of disease.

        1. Yes, I agree, that was me too, until my aches started prematurely – exercise was the only thing that helped – it’s only then that I realized that it was a lifetime event, not a passing fad. It is my sincere hope that people realize just how important exercise and nutrition is and it’s essential to their quality of life. Thank you Doctor Jonathan and thank you for your site – – too!

        2. I hope so – you have great advice which I am sure they value as I do. Just what the Doctor ordered :) Thank you again Doctor Jonathan – I appreciate your visits and helpful insights!

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