We all know that if you want to lose weight, fresh fruit and veg, lean protein and whole grains are the first port of call. But what about all the other foods that make up your pantry?
HFG dietitian Zoe Wilson sources the best packaged foods (and we mean both healthy and tasty) to keep you on the right track with your weight loss.
Most of us know the basics of healthy eating – lots of wholegrains, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, low-fat dairy, enough protein to keep you full, and so on. But at the supermarket, even the most health-conscious shopper can become stumped. Competing health claims, difficult-to-read nutrition information panels and the fact that you’re not always comparing apples with apples can all make for a dizzying experience!
But never fear – HFG is here to help! Our dietitian Zoe Wilson has scoured the supermarket shelves and picked the best foods to help with long-term weight loss.
We’ve divided products into the categories that tend to cause the most confusion. When it comes to deciding which products are best for people wanting to lose weight, the total kilojoule content is key, but other factors – such as higher protein, lower GI, higher fibre and food that tastes good – will also help you to achieve your weight loss goals.
Bürgen Wholemeal & Seeds: Despite the relatively small slices, it’s packed full of protein and fibre to help keep you full for longer. Two slices contain 764kJ, 10.9g protein and 7.5g fibre.
Schwob’s Swiss Bakery Bread Plus Kibbled Rye: Also a smaller slice, it’s still high in protein and fibre (there’s 781kJ, 7.5g protein and 4.0g fibre in two slices).
Tip Top Up White Lower GI: This is a good choice if you or someone in your house will only eat white bread. It’s medium GI (white breads are usually high GI), and has 770kJ, 6.1g protein and 3.0g fibre per two-slice serve.
Mountain Bread Rye: Want more room for fillings in your wrap? Rye Mountain Bread has only 288kJ per piece, so you can fill up on lots of salad and lean protein at lunch.
Vitastic Sorj Lite Wraps Wholemeal: With 366kJ, 3.4g protein and 1.8g fibre per wrap, this low-kJ option makes a quick and easy pizza base.
True Foods Traditional Roti Wraps: Great for mopping up a little leftover HFG curry.
It’s higher in energy than the others (569kJ), but also higher in fibre and protein (3.6g fibre and 4.4g protein per roti), meaning you stay satisfied for longer.
Kellogg’s Special K Advantage: With only 590kJ per 1 cup serve (40g) – as well as a 6.2g fibre hit – this is a great choice when teamed with reduced-fat milk and some fruit.
Goodness Superfoods Protein 1st: Containing a huge 8.7g protein and 13.2g fibre per 1 cup serve (and all for just 700kJ), this cereal is sure to keep you going until lunchtime.
Weet-Bix Multi-Grain: The same Aussie favourite, but with more fibre and protein – you’ll get 763kJ, 4.8g protein and 4.4g fibre per two biscuits.
Goodness Superfoods Barley + Oats 1st Quick Sachets: With 75% more fibre and 85% more beta-glucan than oats alone (6.1g and 2.3g per serve respectively), it’s low-kJ too, with only 525kJ per sachet.
Uncle Tobys Weightwise Oats (original flavour): High in fibre (6.0g) and protein (5.6g), and with only 620kJ per 40g sachet, this porridge is sure to fill you for longer and stop the mid-morning munchies.
Uncle Tobys Oats Multigrain: Made with oats, rye, wheat, buckwheat and pearl barley, you’ll get 620kJ, 4.9g protein and 4.1g fibre in every 40g serve.
Uncle Tobys Natural Style Muesli Original Swiss Blend: This muesli will keep you full throughout the morning. It’s made with a mix of rolled, untoasted oats, dried fruit and nuts, and is high in fibre and low in sodium. You’ll get 690kJ, 4.8g protein and 5.1g fibre per 45g serve.
Carman’s Natural Bircher Muesli: This is designed to be soaked to make bircher muesli. It has 778kJ, 5.0g fibre and 7.7g protein per 45g serve.
Sunsol Protein Muesli with cinnamon flavoured oats: A crunchier muesli due to some toasted oats, but created to be higher in protein than the other Sunsol offerings. You’ll get 756kJ, 6.2g protein and 5.3g fibre per 45g serve.
Tip Top English Muffins Multigrain: These make a great alternative to regular toast and are perfect for topping with tomato slices and a poached egg (626kJ, 7.4g protein and 4.0g fibre per muffin).
Wonder White Hi Fibre Plus Crumpet Splits: With a boost of added fibre, these have 520kJ, 4.2g protein and 4.8g fibre per crumpet.
Bürgen Fruit & Muesli bread: While higher in energy (979kJ), it’s low-GI and packs an 8.2g protein punch (and 3.3g fibre) per serve (2 slices). Great for breakfast or have 1 slice as a low-kJ snack.
Yoplait Formé Satisfy: High in protein and fibre (around 4–5g per tub), this yoghurt is naturally low GI and 355–389kJ per 170g tub. It’s still thick and creamy – and a great way to get in a serve of calcium, too.
Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy Light: 99% fat-free and with 60% less sugar (9–10.5g sugar per tub compared to about 25g in the regular Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy variety), this yummy yoghurt contains 367–385kJ per 170g tub.
Tamar Valley No Fat Natural: A deliciously creamy natural yoghurt with no added sugar and only 300kJ, plus a massive 200mg calcium per 100g.
Natvia: With only 2.5kJ per teaspoon, Natvia is a form of Stevia, a naturally occurring low-kilojoule sweetener without saccharin or aspartame that can be used in place of sugar.
Equal Classic tablets: One tablet has the same sweetness as one teaspoon sugar. This zero-kJ sweetener is also available in sachets or by the spoonful.
Splenda Granular: Measures cup for cup with sugar and works for baking, too. It’s also available in tablets and sachets.
Flora Ultra Light Spread: This sunflower-based spread has 70% less fat than the original version, and only 48kJ per teaspoon.
Nuttelex Lite: A great choice for those with allergies, this dairy-free spread is also gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free. It’s suitable for vegetarians and vegans, too. Contains 93kJ per teaspoon.
Bertolli Light spread: Made from olive oil and with less fat that the original version, you’ll spread only 102kJ per teaspoon on your toast.
Lemnos Lifestyle Apple & Cinnamon bircher muesli: This quick and easy brekky even includes a spoon! There are only 807kJ per 150g tub.
Up&Go Vive Wild Berry: Every 250ml box contains 740kJ, 9.3g protein, 3.8g fat and 4.0g fibre. It’s low-GI and lower in sugar than the other Up&Go flavours. It’s great for breakfast or a post-exercise snack.
Pauls Good to Go: These 99% fat-free smoothies contain just 845kJ per 250ml serve and come in three yummy flavours. They’re also low-GI and high in fibre and protein to keep you fuller for longer.
McCain Healthy Choice Plus Beef Hot Pot: This tasty and convenient healthy meal has 2.5 serves of vegies and 1470kJ per serve.
Lean Cuisine Balanced Serve Chicken & Vegetable Risotto: This meal has only 1270kJ per serve, but is a little light on the vegies. Add a few more and bulk it out to reach your five serves for the day.
Lean Cuisine Steam Atlantic Salmon with Pasta: You’ll get an omega-3 boost from the salmon and one serve of veg with a total of 1450kJ. Again, add more vegies to reach your five a day!
Heinz SteamFresh individual steamer bags: With two serves of veg in each individual bag, they are a great option for bulking out a frozen dinner to create a more balanced meal.
Birds Eye Atlantic Salmon Natural fillets: These fillets contain a whopping 3190mg omega-3, and have 1370kJ per fillet – keep a couple of boxes on hand in your freezer.
McCain Season’s Choice Four Berry Mix: Keep a box in the freezer to make sure you get your two serves of fruit a day (and a hit of antioxidants, too). Add them to low-fat ice-cream for dessert or to breakfast smoothies.
Perfect Italiano Extra Light Ricotta: Spread this ricotta on toast with a few chopped strawberries and a drizzle of honey for a delicious start to the day. It has 80% less fat than their regular ricotta cheese and only 50kJ and 0.2g total fat per 25g serve.
Southcape Tasmanian Fetta Reduced Fat: This milky feta retains its crumbly texture, but has 29% less fat than the regular variety.
Bega So Extra Light 50% Less Fat Tasty cheese: This cheese carries the Heart Foundation Tick and has just 288kJ, 3.8g fat and 2.4g sat fat per 25g serve. You’ll get 249mg calcium, too.
Always Fresh Sandwich Fillers Tuna & Sweet Corn: Got a bread roll (and a handful of baby spinach)? Then you have a sandwich! There’s 4g protein, but only 415kJ, per serve.
La Zuppa Lentil Soup: This low-energy soup (740kJ per serve) has 8.8g protein and 5.5g fibre to help keep you full. You’ll also get 1 serve of vegies in each soup. Serve it with grainy toast and you’ve got a meal!
St. Dalfour Ready To Eat Gourmet to Go Wild Salmon with Vegetables: Skip the takeaway shop with this quick and easy option. It contains 667kJ, 1.5 serves of vegies, is low-fat (2.8g fat per serve) and high-fibre (5.4g fibre per serve).
Mazzetti Balsamic Vinegar of Modena: With a tiny 49kJ per tablespoon, this is a delicious way to add more flavour to salads and roast vegies. Combine it with a squeeze of lemon juice to add even more flavour.
Praise Creamy Mayonnaise 99% Fat Free: Even though it only has 100kJ per tablespoon (saving you 420kJ compared to the regular version), don’t go overboard just because it’s lower in energy!
Praise 97% Fat Free Tartare Sauce: A great accompaniment for barbecued fish or prawns, it has just 105kJ per tablespoon.
Peters Light & Creamy Classic Vanilla: Made with low-fat milk and 97% fat-free, there is a variety of flavours that are all less than 322kJ per scoop.
Skinny Cow English Toffee Stick: Low in fat and with no added sugar, these are a great treat for kids, too. They contain 340kJ and 130mg calcium per stick.
Bulla Fruit’n Yoghurt Mango: This is a sweet way to get your ice-cream fix and because it’s individually packaged you’re less likely to go overboard! 437kJ and 107mg calcium per tub.
Rush Low Fat Iced Latte: A great summer alternative to a hot cup of coffee! It’s 99% fat-free and contains 30% less sugar than regular flavoured milk. It’s also low-kJ (478kJ per 250ml serve) and high in calcium (335mg).
CalciYum milk with chocolate flavour: This low-fat flavoured milk has 658kJ per 250ml serve, 50% more calcium than a regular flavoured milk (443mg) and no artificial colours or flavours.
Jarrah Choc-o-lait drinking chocolate: 99% fat-free and only 190kJ per serve, this is a guilt-free treat to help satisfy a chocolate craving.
Nestlé Aero Chocolate Mousse: It has a tiny 290kJ per single tub – certain to cure your choc craving without tipping the scales.
Nestlé Diet Cremé Caramel: With only 320kJ per tub, plus 3.6g protein to keep you full and a bonus 99mg calcium, this one makes a great dessert option.
Wicked Sister Luscious Vanilla with Cinnamon Rice Pudding: These delicious desserts contain 693kJ and a big 5.2g protein per 140g tub.
Kantong Simply Stir Fry Sauce Lemongrass, Lime & Coriander: This sauce is great for vegie-packed stir-fries. It’s lower in sodium than most (186mg per 60g serve) and is low in energy (128kJ per serve).
Chicken Tonight Lite Creamy Chicken with Mushrooms: A lighter version of the creamy original – 231kJ, 3.4g fat and 550mg sodium per 120g serve.
Dolmio Chunky Pasta Sauce Tomato, Onion & Roast Garlic: Pour some of this chunky sauce over a vegie-packed pasta and add just 354kJ and 0.7g fat per 145g serve.
Be Natural Trail Bars Berry: Made with five different whole grains and a mix of currants, cranberries and strawberries, these more-ish bars contain 460kJ, 2.1g protein and 3.7g fibre each.
Uncle Tobys Simply Fruit Bars with Sultanas, Apricot, Poppyseed & Orange: With only 487kJ per bar, these are a convenient way to get in a serve of fruit.
Uncle Tobys Bodywise Digestive Balance bars (Apple Delight): Providing almost a third of your daily fibre requirement (8.9g), each bar contains 465kJ.
Vegetarian and vegan
Fry’s Vegetarian Traditional Sausages: With no eggs or dairy, these flavoured vegetarian sausages are a great option for non-meat eaters. There is 275kJ and 7.8g protein per sausage. Soyco Japanese Tofu: Served hot or cold, this flavoured tofu is great in any meal. It’s highest in protein of our top three picks, with 18.0g protein and only 732kJ per 100g serve.
Sanitarium Vegie Delights Thai Sweet Chilli & Lime Gourmet Vegie Burgers: A source of protein and iron, and high in zinc and vitamin B12, each burger contains 548kJ, 7.7g protein and 3.5g fibre.
Paradise Vive Lites Caramel Pecan Cookies: Grab two cookies and indulge your sweet tooth for under 400kJ (186kJ per cookie).
Arnott’s Snack Right Sultana Fruit Slice: This sweet snack is 97% fat-free, low-GI and has only 447kJ in three biscuits.
Weight Watchers Choc Chip Cookies: Just 270kJ per serve (2 cookies) makes these a deliciously guilt-free treat!
Bulla Low Fat Cottage Delights Sweet Chilli Sauce: A great alternative to higher-fat sweet chilli dips, it has only 371kJ, but still contains 8.1g protein and 88mg calcium per 100g.
Chris’ Lite & Fresh Hommus: Contains 46% less fat than Chris’ regular version and only 146kJ per tablespoon.
Chris’ Lite & Fresh Tzatziki: This dip has the lowest energy of the all the tzatzikis we reviewed (59kJ per tablespoon).
Skinns Potato Chips Honey Sweet Chicken: These gluten-free chips have 75% less fat than regular chips and 310kJ per 20g bag.
Chic Nuts Roasted Chickpeas Sicilian Herbs & Garlic: Each 25g bag is low in energy and fat (400kJ, 2.2g fat) and high in protein (5.3g) and fibre (4.2g).
Ajita’s Vege Chips: This treat has 40% less fat than regular chips, but is higher in energy and fat than the others here (480kJ, 4.5g fat per 25g serve).
John West Tuna to Go Tomato & Basil: A convenient pack of water crackers and tuna dip with 596kJ and a whopping 7.8g protein to fill you up. You’ll also boost your daily omega-3 intake!
Uncle Tobys Le Snack Deli Dips Spicy Capsicum: These wholegrain crackers with spicy capsicum dip are the perfect size for your handbag. Plus, there’s only 360kJ per packet.
Mainland On the Go Tasty Light Cheese & Crackers: This work-friendly option has just 462kJ, with a whopping 7.3g protein per 30g packet to keep you satisfied.
Angas Park High Fibre Multi-Seed Thins Whole Wheat: When you get the mid-arvo munchies, reach for these savoury biscuits. They have only 411kJ per serve (4 biscuits), with 3.8g fibre and 4.0g protein to keep you feeling full.
Ryvita Multigrain Crispbread: Want a good alternative to bread for your sandwiches? Two biscuits have just 330kJ – and they are high in fibre (3.7g per serve).
Arnott’s Vita-Weat 9 grains: Made from100% whole grains, four biscuits contain just 364kJ plus 2.8g fibre. They’re great for lunch in the office.
Lindt Excellence Dark 70% Cocoa: The ultimate chocolate-craving killer! Stick to just two squares – which contain 436kJ.
Cadbury Freddo Frog (15g): These individually wrapped treats take the guesswork out of portion-sizing. Each 15g frog contains 332kJ. Kit Kat original (2 fingers): This treat weighs in at 436kJ-worth of chocolate and wafer – make sure you savour every bite!
The following fresh fruits and vegetables, drinks and flavour enhancers are useful for bulking out your meals and snacks, or boosting flavour, without adding too much extra energy (less than 87kJ per 100g, unless otherwise noted).
artichoke asparagus Asian greens bean sprouts bok choy broccoli/broccolini Brussels sprouts cabbage Chinese cabbage capsicum carrot cauliflower celeriac celery choko cucumber eggplant fennel garlic green beans leek lettuce and other leafy greens mushrooms onion – brown, green, red parsnip radish silverbeet snow peas spinach sugar snap peas tomato turnip watercress zucchini
curry powder fat-free salad dressing herbs – fresh and dried low-joule jam (1 teaspoon) low-joule jelly low-joule sauces (1 tablespoon) low-joule sweeteners (Natvia, Stevia, Equal, Splenda) mustard pepper spices tomato salsa (1 tablespoon) Vegemite, Marmite, Promite vinegar (balsamic, red wine and white wine)
water mineral water tea (with 20ml skim milk, no sugar) coffee (with 20ml skim milk, no sugar) diet cordial diet soft drink fresh vegetable juice lemon juice lime juice