If you’re getting started on a low calorie diet, you may be wondering if low calorie meals are actually filling enough for you to be successful on the eating plan. While it can be tough to cut calories in the beginning, focusing on creating healthy, satisfying meals that help you stay full for longer will be key to your success. We’ve rounded up 30 healthy dinners under 500 calories that you’ll absolutely love!
What is a Low Calorie Diet?
A low calorie diet is a diet that requires you to eat between 1,000 to 1,500 calories per day. The calories are divided between breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus morning and midday snacks. Many low calorie diets come in around 1,200 calories as this is the average number of calories people can consume without causing harm to their health.
The average person needs about 1,600 to 3,000 calories per day to sustain their body weight. When a person consumes less calories than they need, the body begins to lose weight. When you’re on a low calorie diet, it’s important to eat nutrient dense foods to avoid feeling hungry and make sure your body is nourished. For example, lentils and whole grains are high in fibre, providing your body with nutrients and helping you stay full for longer. White carbohydrates like bread and pasta on the other hand, contain more calories and fewer nutrients, so they aren’t ideal for a low-calorie diet.
How Many Calories Should I Eat Per Day?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to the amount of calories you should be eating per day. Every body is different, and your ideal calorie count depends on numerous factors such as age, height, weight, activity levels, metabolic health and more. You can use a calculator like this one here to figure out how many calories you should be eating per day to maintain or lose weight based on certain factors.
6 Tips for Creating Low Calorie Meals
1. Beware of Your Cooking Method
The cooking methods you use affect the amount of calories in your meals. Cut down on or eliminate frying and sautéing, and you should never be using a deep fat fryer, which requires a lot of oil. Stick with baking, broiling, grilling, poaching or steaming. These cooking methods use little to no added fats.
2. Increase Fibre and Protein
Fibre and protein are both awesome because they fill you up quickly and keep you satisfied. Creating meals that are rich in fibre and protein ensures you’re consuming essential nutrients and will stop you from getting hungry between meals. For fibre, use brown alternatives to rice, pasta and bread, snack on fruit and vegetables and eat whole grains like buckwheat, barley and quinoa. Good sources of protein include eggs, lean meats, oats, nuts and seeds.
3. Reduce Your Carb Intake, Especially Refined Carbs
Refined carbs such as white bread, rice and pasta offer empty calories. They fill you up without many nutrients and leave you feeling hungry shortly after. Cutting carbs in general can help you lose weight, making you eat fewer calories. If you do eat carbs, stick to healthy fibre-rich carbs such as whole, single-ingredient foods like lentils and whole grains.
4. Cook with Lean Meats
Lean meats like turkey and chicken breast are great sources of protein and contain very little fat and calories. When you eat chicken breast without the skin, most of the calories in it come from protein. Lean beef is also high in protein, as well as iron, vitamin B12 and other essential nutrients. Lean cuts of beef include round, loin and sirloin, so stick to these when cooking.
5. Pack in the Veggies
Vegetables are nutritious and packed with minerals and vitamins you need to stay healthy. They come at a low calorie count and are the best things to fill your low calorie meals with. Chopped vegetables are a healthy, low-calorie alternative to meat in recipes like soups, pasta sauces, and casseroles. When seasoning cooked veggies, make sure to use herbs instead of butter or oil.
6. Cook With Flavourful Ingredients
One of the biggest key factors in enjoying low calorie meals is cooking with flavourful ingredients. You’re not going to have an enjoyable time cutting calories if all your meals are bland and tasteless. For example, use small amounts of stronger cheeses to create more flavour but less calories in your meals.
30 Dinners Under 500 Calories
1. Baked Lemon Chicken | Olive Magazine (481 calories)
2. Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger with Creamy Avocado | Pop Sugar (367 calories)
3. Smoked Paprika Paella with Cod and Peas | BBC Good Food (481 calories)
4. Healthier Skillet Lasagna | The Recipe Rebel (460 calories)
5. Swiss Chard Wraps with Chicken and Sweet Potato | SELF (499 calories)
6. Vietnamese Pan-Grilled Sesame Beef | The Iron You (299 calories)
7. Spicy Beef Fajita Burgers | Two Purple Figs (381 calories)
8. Tropical Coconut Chicken Salad | Joyful Healthy Eats (470 calories)
9. Healthy Chicken Tikka Burritos | Olive Magazine (400 calories)
10. Spicy Red Lentil Curry | Minimalist Baker (402 calories)
11. Healthy Walking Tacos | Fit Foodie Finds (401 calories)
12. Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Glow Bowl | Pinch of Yum
13. Healthier Slow Cooker Hamburger Helper | The Recipe Rebel (410 calories)
14. Roasted Chickpea Wraps | BBC Good Food (489 calories)
15. Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats | Skinny Taste (464 calories)
16. Slow Cooker Balsamic Pot Roast | Cafe Delites (398 calories)
17. One-Pan Healthy Sausage and Veggies | Chelsea’s Messy Apron (429 calories)
18. Thai Peanut Chicken with Sticky Coconut Purple Rice | Ambitious Kitchen (450 calories)
19. Shrimp Un-Fried Rice | Weelicious (450 calories)
20. Perfect Powerhouse Salad | All Just Choice (478 calories)
21. Bean and Barley Soup | BBC Good Food (488 calories)
22. Spicy Chipotle Turkey Burritos | Pinch of Yum (387 calories)
23. Creamy Fettuccine with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms | Eating Well (384 calories)
24. Tofu Kale Power Bowl with Tahini Dressing | Sharon Palmer (222 calories)
25. Salsa Verde Lentil Tacos with Mango-Pomegranate Pico | Ambitious Kitchen (389 calories)
26. Thai Salad and Cauliflower Rice Wrap | Food, Faith, Fitness (330 calories)
27. Kale Goat Cheese Pizza | Eat Good 4 Life (314 calories)
28. Thai Spaghetti Squash with Peanut Sauce | Eating Well (419 calories)
29. One Pot Teriyaki Chicken and Noodles | The Recipe Label (413 calories)
30. Roasted Red Pepper and Parsley Pesto with Penne | BBC Good Food (495 calories)
A low calorie diet doesn’t have to leave you hungry and unsatisfied. With these nutritious dinners, you’ll be able to lose weight without feeling deprived.