It’s tough to know what to eat sometimes, isn’t it? You want to avoid foods that are high in calories, but you still need to eat healthy fats, protein, and complex carbs. It’s often easier to know what to avoid than what to eat. “Bad” foods are pretty clear: anything with refined sugar, flour, or artificial ingredients. But what is “good” food?
It all comes down to one simple fact: nutritional density!
Make no mistake, some nutrient-dense foods will be high in calories. You have to give up the “calories = bad” mentality, and instead think about “nutrients = good”.
There are a few nutrients your body needs: Protein, which fuels your muscles; carbs, which provide energy; unsaturated fat to provide long-lasting energy, suppress your appetite, and promote more efficient fat-burning; minerals, which play a role in your metabolism, bone health, and organ function; fiber, which is needed for healthy digestion and colon function; and finally vitamins, which are heart-smart, detoxifying, and can help to fight off disease.
Where can you find these foods in high quantities? Here is a list of nutrient dense foods to add to your diet:
Fruits are some of the best plant-based sources of vitamins and antioxidants–Vitamin C in citrus fruits, polyphenols in berries, and bromelain in pineapples. Every fruit has its benefits, so it’s good to add a wide range of these colorful, sweet/tart fruits to your diet!
Veggies are one of the best sources of dietary fiber and minerals. They’re also fairly low in calories (save for a few, like avocado), so you can eat as much of them as you want without worrying. The more spinach, kale, mushroom, eggplant, and tomatoes you eat, the healthier you’ll be!
Beans and Pulses
Beans, lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas are just a few of the high-fiber, high-protein foods you should be eating. These plant-based protein sources are incredibly nutrient-dense, and they are also fairly low in calories.
The more fiber the grains have, the better! White rice and corn are fairly low in nutrients, especially when compared to brown rice, quinoa, barley, and millet. Try to eat the “whole” and “ancient” grains as much as possible.
Eggs are, pound for pound, one of the best protein sources on the planet. They’re also rich in fat-burning saturated fat, antioxidants, and minerals that will keep your metabolism firing. If you want to be healthy, you should definitely eat more eggs.
Fish is packed with fatty acids that boost your metabolism, improve your heart health, and keep your brain functioning well. Salmon, tuna, and sardines are just a few of the best fatty fish, but the more fish you eat, the better!
Nuts are high in unsaturated fatty acids (meaning high in calories), but they are some of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. As long as you limit your nut intake to a handful or two per day, you can enjoy a lot of fiber, minerals, and antioxidants without worrying about calorie intake.
Seaweed comes in many different forms: dried seaweed (used for sushi), wakame (used in Japanese soups), spirulina, chlorella, and many more. Seaweed products are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and minerals, making them excellent for your health!
Tea is one of the best low-calorie beverages for you to enjoy! Black, white, red, and oolong tea will all boost your metabolism, as well as provide you with a healthy dose of antioxidants. Some teas (like green tea) will even target stubborn body fat, making it easier to lose weight. You can drink them with no sugar, making them a ZERO calorie food with excellent health benefits.