When on a calorie restricted diet it can be difficult to find a good variety of foods you can eat that are filling but don’t exceed your desired intake.  In the past I’ve often struggled to stay full when reducing my calories, so knowing the foods right foods goes along way. For example, whilst peanut butter is a filling food, it’s also (unfortunately) a rather calorie dense food and before you’ve barely blinked you can consume a third of your calorie allowance.

Sticking to the basics like avoiding processed, sugary foods and focusing on eating vegetables and protein is a solid foundation, but we should be always be careful to get enough ‘healthy’ fat in our diet to support our hormones. Additionally, if you’re like me, you won’t enjoy dropping your carbohydrate intake too low as your grumpiness soon becomes apparent.

If you’re already in the position of fighting hunger, think about whether you are crash dieting and if you are being too harsh on your body. Don’t be put off by gradually reducing the calories you consume over time, as this will often be just as effective.(You are less likely to binge or quit.) You can also consider increasing your level of cardiovascular activity to counter the additional calories consumed or use intermittent fasting. (This really helped me to reduce my body fat.)

Enough chatter, here’s my top list:

Cauliflower & Broccoli
Cauliflower has just 25 Calories per 100g and Broccoli has 34 calories per 100g. Fibre galore!

Florets Of Broccoli

Florets Of Broccoli

Tinned Tomatoes
Less than 80 calories in a 400g tin! Great for bulking out meals and adding taste. I often mix it with vegetables, tuna and 75g of brown rice pasta for a perfectly filling meal.

Tinned Tomatoes

Tinned Tomatoes

White Fish
Approximately 80 calories per 100g, nearly all of which is high BV (biological value) protein, what’s not to love? The flavour? That can always be enhanced with spices.

fresh white fish

fresh white fish

Sugar Free Jelly
Whilst you’d think this should be a treat, you can buy pots 175g pots that are only 10 calories or make your own using cubes. My favourite brand is Hartleys Jelly, the only bad thing is you have to think in advance as the jelly seems to take about half a day to set. :(

Hartleys sugar free jelly

Hartleys sugar free jelly

Sweet Potatoes
Whilst the highest per 100g than any other of the foods mentioned, there is only around 87 calories per 100g of sweet potato. (Its also the most filling!) Whenever I’m on a low calorie diet, I find sweet potato is usually included in at least of of my meals each day.

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

Asparagus
Grilled in the oven with your favourite mix of herb and chilli, Lovely! A fantastic addition to almost any meal.

Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus

Apples
With only 50-60 calories in a whole apple, they make the perfect snack or addition to your meal.

apple

An apple a day..

Celery & Cucumber
Celery is a fantastic snack, but don’t be tempted to start dipping it into some calorie dense dips! If you’re looking to avoid the temptation stick with Cucumber.

Cucumber & Celery

Cucumber & Celery

Water
You may think this is a joke, but many people struggle to tell the difference between dehydration and hunger. A large glass of water will soon help you to decide. On that note, green tea is also a fantastic low calorie drink that’s great for your digestive system.

A glass of water

A glass of water

A cheat meal can be defined as an unplanned, temporary lapse in dietary control. In other words, a yummy meal you’ve decided to eat because of how it tastes rather than the nutritional value it offers. (Although who isn’t conscious of their protein intake?) Cheat meals are also known as ‘free meals‘ or ‘reward meals‘ and should be used sparingly.

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, strongman, athlete or just enjoy keeping fit, it’s always important to mix up your diet. Eating ‘clean’ by stuffing yourself with broccoli and chicken every few hours is rapidly becoming outdated. For most people cheat meals aren’t necessary, as if you’re flexible about how you meet your macro nutrient requirements, you’ll barely notice a difference. 

chocolate cake

om nom nom!

On the other hand, cheat meals for some can provide a fantastic mental stimulant and if timed correctly, may be a superb way to boost your metabolism if you’ve been depleting yourself recently. Cheat meals should be used to help you to stick to your diet. If dropping your body fat, its often good to time a cheat meal in with a re-feed once every 2-3 weeks and from my personal experience they don’t hinder your progress.

To reduce the impact of your cheat meal its often a great idea to plan your cheats around diet. For example, when I decide that I wanted to eat ‘strawberry laces’ coated in sugar (which I often do) I’ll always eat them straight after my workout with a post workout protein shake.

You’ll often see competing bodybuilders rapidly raise their body fat straight after a competition on a 1 week or longer binge. This is because its not a good idea to stay in low single digits of body fat for long periods of time (often a low as 3-7%) and to do this they cheat in an incredible way.

… And remember, don’t get caught up on a cheat meal or cheat day, some people cheat their whole lives.

The best sources of protein generally have three main attributes. They have a high density of amino acids per 100g, a high biological value (BV) and contain very few carbohydrates or fats. Below I have compiled a list of what I would consider to be the best Food Sources For Protein.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is made from milk plasma/whey which is a byproduct of cheese production. The globular proteins contained in the whey are isolated and then died to produce the milkish yellow power we all know. Whey protein has an extremely high biological value and the refining process means the density of amino acids can be anywhere from 60-95g+ per 100g. Whey protein also has an extremely high biological value due to its amino acid profile and is also very efficient at entering into the blood stream. The perfect post workout meal as the amino acids can enter the bloodsteam within 20-40 minutes of consumption.

Egg Whites

An excellent source of protein: raw, boiled, poached or fried. Eggs will always be a part of my breakfasts. Often viewed as a great protein to eat with meals throughout the day due to its slower release of amino acids.

Steak

An extremely tasty way to enjoy protein consumption, although a little expensive compared other sourced of protein. High in creatine and best served medium rare.

Tuna

Tinned tuna is one of the easiest, stress free sources of protein, however its becoming increasingly expensive. It doesn’t taste great out of a tin either.

White Fish

Cheap, a little plain but is often overlooked by the likes of tuna or chicken. Loved by thousands on strict diets cutting down for competition.

Chicken

Probably internationally known as the best source of protein and that’s not far from the source. Chicken is a tasty, high biological and cost effective source of protein.

Turkey

Turkey has a slightly biological value than chicken but should be overlooked, especially given the cost comparison against chicken.

Quorn

A fantastic meat free alternative for vegetarians. It’s surprising many people mistake Quorn meals with their meaty alternative.

Other Sources

Other fantastic sources of protein:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Nuts
  • Cottage cheese
  • Milk

When looking to drop body-fat, it can be hard deciding what foods to eat. Balancing nutrients, calorific density, cost and food satisfaction can be difficult, but just remember you can always follow IFFYM and eat what you like within reason. From my personal experience of cutting, this is my favorite selection of foods:

Broccoli

Florets Of Broccoli

Florets Of Broccoli

Low in calories, tastes good (although I’m sure that’s an opinion), an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, a great source of fibre and very filling. Broccoli is always the first thing that comes to mind when I think about cutting.

 

 

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is an absolute life saver as it tastes fantastic, is packed with vitamins & minerals and most importantly, carbohydrates. Sweet potato is easy to prepare and store away in the fridge and I often consume sweet potato as part of my pre or post workout meal.

 

 

 

Oily Fish

smoked mackerel

smoked mackerel

Another fantastic tasting food with high biological value (BV) protein and fantastic source of omega fats. I often opt for smoked mackerel in the morning and Salmon for lunch. I love wild salmon although it can get expensive.

Tinned Tomatoes

Low in calories, taste great and can bulk up any meal! A fantastic food to add to the mix.

Brown Rice Pasta

Contrary to popular belief, I personally think you should always eat a fair share of carbohydrate. Your body still needs, carbohydrates. When low on carbohydrates I have certainly experienced bouts of mood swings.

Spinach

Spinach is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Many people are deficient in Zinc, which is how zinc can optimize testosterone levels in the body.

Eggs

fat protein, don’t have to be dull either. Mixing up boiling, poaching, scrambling and frying. Again, a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals. Also extremely easy to repair

Sugar Free Jelly – extremely low in calories

Certainly last, but not least, sugar free jelly from Hartleys is the perfect treat for anyone with a sweet tooth who desperate to head off-track on their cutting diet.The only downside is the Jelly can take a good few hours to set! I for one get rather impatient.

 

Bonus – Spices and Seasoning!

Spices and seasoning can make or break a cut in my opinion. If you’re planning on eating clean then you need to mix things up to keep your taste buds happy. You’ll soon lose the will to eat if its BLAND.