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friends eating pizza

12 foods with low calories & more

23 Nov 2022 • 3 min read

Do you find yourself counting calories? Maybe you scrutinise food labels before clicking ‘buy’ or putting anything into your trolley or you’re just generally mindful of what you eat on a day-by-day basis.

However you do it, we’ve all found ourselves counting the calories at some point. Sometimes, it can be more than others.

For instance, you may want to lose a few pounds from your stomach and your thighs so you’re ‘summer ready’ or you may be conscious of the fact you can end up overindulging a bit too much at certain times of the year – e.g. our birthdays or at Christmas, and you want to cut back a bit.

There’s nothing wrong with being mindful about how many calories you’re taking on. Choosing healthier and leaner foods over fattier and more calorific foods can make a difference to our diet and overall healthiness.

How can weight impact our health?

According to the figures published by the NHS, the majority of adults in the UK are overweight or obese; 67% of men and 60% of women.

What’s more, 26% of men and 29% of women are classed as being obese. As for children, 20% of Year 6 children have been classified as being obese.1

Obesity can lead to health issues, such as Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol.2

Being overweight is generally caused by numerous things, including:

  1. Eating too many calories

The average physically active man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight, and the average physically active woman needs about 2,000 calories a day. If you repeatedly exceed this levels and aren’t very active, this can lead to you putting on weight.

  1. Consuming processed, sugary and fatty food

This type of food contains minimal to zero vitamins, minerals or nutrients that are essential for a healthy lifestyle. Instead, this food contains bad fats that contain excessive amounts of calories.

Not exercising enough

  1. If you eat high amounts of energy, particularly fat and sugar, but don’t burn it off through exercise and physical activity, most of this surplus energy winds up being stored by the body as fat.3

What are calories?

Generally speaking, calories are units that are used to measure the amount of energy that’s in the food and drink products we choose to put into our bodies. In order to function, the human body depends on these calorie/energy units.

Healthy food provides us with the energy that’s needed to fuel our bodies, as well as important nutrients to help keep us fit and healthy and make sure our bones are healthy and strong.

But here’s the thing, not all calories are healthy. In fact, certain food and drink products happen to actually contain ‘empty calories.’4

Handpicked content: ‘The truth about calories.’

How many calories should we be consuming?

In an ideal world, the average woman needs to eat around 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight, and 1,500 calories per day to lose one pound of weight per week.

Meanwhile, the average man needs 2,500 calories to maintain, and 2,000 to lose one pound of weight a week.

When it comes to young children, they need to take on between 1,000 and 2,000 calories a day.

Older children and adolescents require anything between 1,400 and 3,200 calories a day.

Boys generally need to consume more calories than girls.5

What does our Body Mass Index (BMI) mean/do?

The guidance above provides you with a general barometer to monitoring your calories.

For more of a tailored approach to calorie counting, based on your personal body make up (e.g. your height, age, weight and activity levels), you may want to calculate your BMI.

Working out your BMI is relatively easy to do if you use a BMI calculator, such as this one that’s been created by the NHS.6

Once calculated, your reading will instantly tell you if you’re underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or obese for your body proportions. You can also calculate BMI for children too.7

Handpicked content: ‘How to calculate your BMI.’

Some food and drink swaps for you to try

Once you start to tune into the calorie content of your food and drink, you’ll be amazed at where the calories are, and which food is high in calories and which food is low in calories.

For instance, did you know that there are 329 calories in prawn crackers (160g bag), 150 calories in a Crème Egg and 170 calories in a packet of Super Noodles?8

12 low calorie foods

Low calorie foods Calories (kcal)
Skimmed milk (8 oz. glass) 79
Brown bread (1 slice) 73
Rice cakes (1) 35
Low fat spread (1 tbsp) 50
Mozarella cheese (22g) 62
Water 0
Carrot sticks and hummus 170
Sunflower seeds (100g) 582
Apple (1 medium) and peanut butter (2 tbsp) 283
Porridge oats 150
Raspberries (1 cup)  64
Radishes (1 cup) 19


12 zero calorie foods

Does food that contains zero calories exist? It may sound impossible, but there is some food out there that contains next to nothing calories. Like these….

Low calorie foods Calories (kcal)
Skimmed milk (8 oz. glass) 79
Brown bread (1 slice) 73
Rice cakes (1) 35
Low fat spread (1 tbsp) 50
Mozarella cheese (22g) 62
Water 0
Carrot sticks and hummus 170
Sunflower seeds (100g) 582
Apple (1 medium) and peanut butter (2 tbsp) 283
Porridge oats 150
Raspberries (1 cup)  64
Radishes (1 cup) 19


12 high energy low calorie foods

Food/drink Calories (kcal)
Green tea (1 mug)  2
Satsuma (1 medium) 29
Sweet potato (100g) 115
Banana (1) 80
Goji berries (30g) 80
Ginger/lemon tea (1 mug) 2
Edamame beans (80g) 110
Blueberries (20 berries) 7
Low fat hummus (30g) 95
Pumpkin seeds (1 tbsp) 69
Yerba mate tea (1 mug) 1
Spinach (1 cup) 4

12 foods with the most calories

We’ve pulled together a list of some of the drink and food with the most calories:

Drink/food Calories (kcal)
Whole milk (8 oz. glass) 150
White bread (1 slice) 98
Bagels (1 medium plain) 277
Butter (1 tbsp. unsalted) 102
Cheese (22g) 89
Fizzy drinks (100g) 41
Crisps (100g)  536
Peanuts (100g)  567
Chocolate bar (100g)  556
Granola (1/2 cup) 226
Salmon (6 oz. fillet) 350
Chickpeas (1 cup)  269



The more you start to look, the more you’ll start to see there’s plenty of food and drink that’s low in calories to replace foods with high calories, and that it’s more easier than you may initially think to steer away from calorie-laden food.

It just takes a little bit more thought and an extra minute or two when shopping and cooking your food to use lower calorie alternatives.

If you’d like to incorporate fewer calories in your diet, then check out our range of low calorie, food and drink, vitamins and supplements and weight management products. 

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 11 June 2021


Bhupesh Panchal


Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
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