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Are grilled vegetables good for weight loss?

Grilled vegetables are a healthy and delicious way to add more nutrition into your diet. They provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants with very few calories. But are grilled veggies actually an effective strategy for losing weight? There are some important factors to consider.

Do grilled vegetables help you feel fuller?

One of the main challenges of losing weight is feeling satisfied by fewer calories. If a food helps you feel fuller for longer, it can prevent overeating throughout the day. Grilled veggies are low in calories but high in water and fiber content. This combination provides volume and takes longer to digest, helping regulate appetite hormones.

In one study, subjects were divided into two groups. One group ate a low-calorie salad with grilled vegetables including zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. The other group ate a salad without the grilled veggies. The group that ate the grilled vegetable salad reported feeling fuller after eating and ate 12% fewer calories for the rest of the day.

So grilled veggies can definitely support weight loss by promoting satiety and reducing subsequent calorie intake. Their high fiber content is partly responsible for their filling effects.

Are they nutritious?

Grilled vegetables retain most of their nutritional value if they are cooked properly. The nutrient composition varies based on the type of vegetable. But most types become richer in antioxidants and maintain their vitamins and minerals when exposed to heat.

For example, antioxidants like carotenoids become more bioavailable when cooked. Phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits are also produced during the grilling process.

Some of the most nutrient-dense grilled veggie options include:

  • Zucchini – Provides vitamin C, manganese and gut-healthy fiber.
  • Bell peppers – Excellent sources of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate and antioxidant carotenoids.
  • Onions – Contain inulin, a prebiotic fiber that supports gut health.
  • Eggplant – Rich in chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant that may protect against heart disease.
  • Asparagus – High in vitamin K, which supports bone and heart health.

Overall, grilled vegetables provide a wide range of important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber with very minimal calories.

Low in calories

Vegetables are naturally low in calories, and grilling does not significantly change their calorie content.

One cup of grilled vegetables generally provides between 20–50 calories. Some examples of calorie counts for 1-cup servings of popular grilled veggies:

  • Zucchini – 18 calories
  • Bell pepper – 30 calories
  • Eggplant – 35 calories
  • Mushrooms – 21 calories
  • Onion – 46 calories

This low calorie density means you can fill your plate with large portions of grilled veggies without packing in too many calories. Their low energy density and high volume are important attributes for weight loss meals.

Weight loss effects

Research shows that increasing intake of low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods like grilled vegetables promotes healthy weight loss over time:

  • In one study, obese subjects ate a diet high in grilled vegetables including eggplant, zucchini, spinach and mushrooms. After 12 weeks, they lost an average of 3 pounds more than the control group.
  • Another study found that eating a diet with two extra servings per day of nutrient-rich vegetables lowered participants’ calories by about 130 calories per day. Most veggies were grilled.
  • A recent 12-week weight loss trial had subjects follow either a calorie-restricted diet with five servings of grilled vegetables per day or the same diet without the extra veggies. The group eating more grilled vegetables lost about 5% more body weight.

Overall, research confirms including more low-calorie, nutrient-dense grilled vegetables in your diet promotes healthy weight loss over time without the need to drastically cut calories.

Are all grilled vegetables healthy?

Not all grilled veggies support weight loss equally. Some energy-dense starchy vegetables become higher in calories once grilled. For example:

  • Corn – 123 calories per cup when grilled
  • Potatoes – 156 calories per cup when grilled

Starchy grilled vegetables like corn and potatoes provide significantly more calories than water-dense veggies like zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onions.

For the best weight loss results, focus your grilled vegetables meals around the lowest calorie options. Monitor your portions of starchy grilled veggies like corn and potatoes that are higher in carbs and calories.

What about added fats?

Plain grilled vegetables prepared with minimal added fats are very low in calories. However, the way you flavor and dress grilled vegetables makes a major difference for their effects on weight loss.

Common ways grilled veggies become high in calories include:

  • Oil-based marinades – Oils are pure fat and pack 120 calories per tablespoon.
  • Butter basting – Each tablespoon of melted butter provides 100 calories.
  • Cheese toppings – Cheese is highly caloric and easy to overeat. Just 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese adds about 110 calories.

To keep grilled veggies low in calories, use fat-free seasonings like lemon juice, vinegar, spices and fresh herbs. Avoid oil-based marinades and high-fat toppings like cheese.

Should you eat grilled veggies daily?

It is healthy to include grilled veggies in your diet several times per week, especially if you are trying to lose weight. But for the best results, include a variety of healthy cooking techniques like steaming, roasting and sautéing to get different nutrients and prevent boredom.

Some examples of enjoyable ways to eat grilled veggies:

  • On salads
  • In grain bowls
  • As a sandwich or burger topping
  • In frittatas or omelets
  • On their own as a healthy side dish

Aim for at least 2-3 servings of veggies at each meal, with grilled vegetables making up a portion of your total daily vegetable intake 2-4 times per week.

Tips for grilling vegetables

Here are some tips to ensure you maximize nutrients and flavor when grilling veggies:

  • Cut pieces evenly to promote even cooking.
  • Use a grilling basket to prevent sticking and breaking.
  • Brush with oil to help conduct heat if needed.
  • Flip halfway through grilling time.
  • Season with herbs and spices to add flavor without calories.
  • Combine complementary flavors like peppers and onions.
  • Don’t overcook – they should be slightly charred but still crisp.

With the right techniques, grilled vegetables can become caramelized and flavorful without excess added fats.

Potential downsides

While grilled vegetables can fit well into a healthy weight loss diet, there are a couple potential downsides to consider:

  • Charring may form harmful compounds. Charring and blackening veggies can form compounds like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that may increase cancer risk when consumed in high amounts.
  • Nutrient loss. Some water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins may decrease during grilling due to exposure to heat and oxidation.

To prevent these downsides, avoid charring your vegetables black. Shoot for light grill marks while maintaining some crispness.

Bottom line

Grilled vegetables promote healthy weight loss when included as part of a balanced diet. Benefits include:

  • Low in calories
  • Provide fiber, vitamins and antioxidants
  • Increase satiety
  • Can reduce subsequent calorie intake

Aim for proper grilling techniques, minimal added fats and a variety of veggies. Grilled vegetables are nutritious, delicious and can support your weight loss goals. While not all veggies are equally low in calories, stick to low-carb options like zucchini, peppers, onions and mushrooms for the best results.

Sample meal plan with grilled veggies

Here is a 3-day sample meal plan incorporating nutrient-dense grilled veggies to maximize nutrition and support healthy weight loss:

Day 1


  • Vegetable omelet made with 1 cup grilled mushrooms, 1 cup spinach, 2 eggs
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • Black coffee


  • Grilled vegetable salad with 2 cups mixed greens, 1/2 cup each of grilled zucchini, bell pepper and red onion, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 oz grilled chicken breast
  • 1 whole wheat dinner roll


  • 3 oz grilled salmon
  • 1 cup grilled asparagus
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • Green salad with 2 cups greens, 1/4 cup chickpeas, lemon juice dressing

Day 2


  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with 1 tbsp almond butter
  • Black coffee


  • Veggie burger on whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, 1/4 cup grilled onions and 1 slice avocado
  • 1 cup vegetable soup


  • 3 oz grilled flank steak
  • 1 cup grilled eggplant
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • Tossed salad with 2 cups greens, 5 cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar

Day 3


  • 2 scrambled eggs
  • 1 cup grilled mushrooms and zucchini
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked with almond milk, cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries


  • Grilled vegetable wrap with whole wheat tortilla, 1/2 cup grilled peppers and onions, 2 oz part-skim mozzarella, lettuce, balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup gazpacho soup


  • 3 oz grilled chicken
  • Kale salad with 2 cups kale, 1/4 cup chickpeas, 1/4 cup grilled onion, lemon juice dressing
  • 1/2 cup brown rice


Eating more low-calorie, nutrient-dense grilled vegetables can be an effective component of a healthy weight loss diet. Grilled veggies like zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onions provide bulk with minimal calories and help decrease overall calorie intake.

Focus on proper grilling methods and minimal added fats. Include grilled vegetables as part of your balanced diet 2-4 times per week. Combine with other healthy cooking techniques and aim for variety to maximize nutrients. With some simple tips, grilled vegetables can be a tasty way to boost nutrition and slim your waistline.