Sure, you can jumpstart a car no problem, but can you really jumpstart a weight loss journey? Why yes, yes you can! By eating healthy weight loss foods that not only help you shed the pounds, but provide a myriad of benefits to your system. Think lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, according to Lisa Richards CNC, nutritionist and founder of The Candida Diet.
The best foods for weight loss include options that are high in nutrition and low in calories – supporting good health and helping you stick to your calorie limit. Other great options are foods that help reduce hunger or cravings, helping to keep you on track. These include options that are rich in heart-healthy fats, protein, and fiber, along with options that are basically calorie-free!
In the same study, potato chips, sugary beverages, red meats, and processed meats were associated with weight gain.
Some weight-loss diets can leave you starving — and that’s not the goal. While eliminating processed foods from your grocery cart is a great way to lose weight and improve your health, especially ones that are high in empty calories, sugar, and unhealthy fats, what you add to your cart is just as important. Foods that are high in fiber and protein, for example, will satisfy you and help you avoid making unhealthy choices.
Based on these findings, it may be best to limit fried foods, foods with added sugar, high-fat meats, and processed foods when trying to shift the pounds.
Though the right foods may help, physical activity is essential for losing weight and keeping the pounds off. It is important to check with a doctor before starting any physical activity program.
Here’s your go-to guide for finding the best weight loss foods to stack your plate with.
Best Weight Loss Foods
With that in mind, here’s a list of foods to focus on. Not only will they help you towards your weight loss goals but they’ll also help you feel good too!
Once feared for being high in cholesterol, whole eggs have been making a comeback.
Although a high intake of eggs raises the levels of “bad” LDL-cholesterol in some people, they are one of the best foods to eat if you need to lose weight. They are high in protein and fat, and are very satiating.(1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
One study in 30 overweight women showed that eating eggs for breakfast, instead of bagels, increased feelings of fullness (satiety) and made participants eat less for the next 36 hours (3Trusted Source).
Another eight-week study found that eggs for breakfast increased weight loss on a calorie restricted diet, compared to bagels (4Trusted Source).
Eggs are also incredibly nutrient dense and can help you get all the nutrients you need on a calorie-restricted diet. Interestingly, almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks.
Eat Your Beans to Fill Up With Fiber
Inexpensive, filling, and versatile, beans are a great source of protein. Beans are also high in fiber and slow to digest. That means you feel full longer, which may stop you from eating more.
There are lots of reasons to put beans on your shopping list. Firstly, beans are an excellent source of fiber, and any food that’s high in fiber will be filling, says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, author of Doctor’s Detox Diet: The Ultimate Weight Loss Prescription. One-half cup of black beans, for example, has 7 g of fiber, or 28 percent of your DV. One-cup of red kidney beans has 8 g of fiber, or 32 percent of your DV. And one-half cup of garbanzo beans has 6 g of fiber, or 24 percent of your DV.
Plus, fiber helps to fill you up without adding any calories to food (since our bodies can’t digest fiber), explains Kelly Kennedy, RD, staff nutritionist for Everyday Health. Fiber also takes longer to digest and adds bulk to food, she adds. A small study published in ISRN Obesity found that a high-fiber, bean-rich diet increased satiation and reduced hunger.
Beans also stimulate the production of the gut hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which slows gastric emptying and can help to suppress appetite, Kennedy notes. All of these benefits may lead to weight loss. A study published in April 2014 the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that a high-fiber, bean-rich diet was as effective as a low-carbohydrate diet for losing weight.
Ever chow on celery because you heard digesting it burns more calories than the flavorless food contains? Well, it turns out the idea of “negative calorie” food is completely bogus. But there are other reasons the crunchy stalks can support a weight loss journey. “Celery offers much more than just low calorie contents,” says Richards. For starters, it contains a great deal of inflammation-lowering antioxidants that can help fight damaging free radials, which are thought to contribute to chronic conditions and cancer, she says.
“Celery also contains a compound called “apiuman,” which has been shown to support gastrointestinal health,” according to Richards. “When the gut is healthy, your metabolism can work more efficiently to aid in weight loss,” she says. Goodbye constipation-induced weight gain!
Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal could also result in a lower number on the scales.
A studyTrusted Source involving 47 adults looked at differences in appetite, fullness, and next meal intake after participants ate oatmeal, as opposed to an oat-based ready-to-eat breakfast cereal.
After eating oatmeal, participants felt significantly fuller and less hungry than after eating the cereal. Also, their calorie intake at lunch was lower after eating oatmeal than after eating breakfast cereal.
While both breakfasts contained the same amount of calories, the oatmeal provided more protein, more fiber, and less sugar than the cereal.
The authors concluded that the difference in fiber, specifically a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, was probably responsible for the results.
When it comes to weight loss, fiber is king. It’s satiating because it slows digestion and keeps us feeling fuller longer. This is super important when we’re cutting back on calories, a common approach to weight loss. Consuming a serving of chia seeds, roughly 2 tablespoons, satisfies a whopping 40% of daily fiber needs. And they’re easy to incorporate into meals, especially breakfast and snacks, with foods like breakfast pudding, berry jam and energy balls. Bonus—chia seeds are one of the best foods to help you go No. 2!
Why put salmon on your list of foods for weight loss? Among its many health benefits, salmon is a great source of protein — 3 ounces (oz) of wild Atlantic salmon has about 22 grams of protein. In a small study published in the journal Obesity, researchers at Purdue University found that men who were trying to lose weight felt full longer when they ate higher amounts of protein at each meal. The participants, who were put on a low-calorie, high-protein diet, also reported fewer food cravings throughout the day and didn’t crave unhealthy snacks late at night.
Protein-rich foods are filling foods because “protein is metabolized more slowly than fats or carbohydrates,” explains Dr. Gerbstadt. Salmon is also one of the best sources of heart-healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids, adds Kennedy.
Brilliant Boiled Potatoes
First it was eggs, which were wrongly convicted of raising cholesterol. Then it was potatoes, which were blamed for weight gain. Both theories have been overturned. Eggs are one of our favourite go-to foods at WW, while potatoes not only contain a diverse range of nutrients, but also score the highest of all foods tested on the Satiety Index – meaning they make you feel full and curb appetite. Choose to eat your potatoes baked or boiled, with their skins on, to maximise the fibre content.
Lentils, a member of the legume family, are packed with plant protein and dietary fibre and are low in fat – a winning combo when it comes to weight management. They are also low GI, ensuring a slow release of energy and help regulate insulin resistance, which in turn may aid weight management.
Leafy greens include kale, spinach, collards, swiss chards and a few others.
They have several properties that make them perfect for a weight loss diet, such as being low in calories and carbohydrates and loaded with fiber.
Eating leafy greens is a great way to increase the volume of your meals, without increasing the calories. Numerous studies show that meals and diets with a low energy density make people eat fewer calories overall (5Trusted Source).
Leafy greens are also incredibly nutritious and very high in many vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, including calcium, which has been shown to aid fat burning in some studies.
An apple a day keeps the . . . weight gain away? It’s true. The how is two fold. Richards explains: “Apples are rich in antioxidants that help rid the body of toxins that can contribute to inflammation in the body and unwanted weight gain.”
And they contain a ton of fiber, she says. One apple contains upward of 5 grams of fiber, which makes them more filling compared to snacks of similar calorie contents. It’s simple: eat an apple, feel fuller, snack less throughout the day. Richards adds: “The fiber also helps keep the gut microbiome healthy and balanced—an essential component of a good metabolism.”
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming two servings of seafood each week because it contains essential fatty acids that we can only get through our diet. In addition to supporting heart and brain health, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon, sardines and tuna may help to reduce body fat. Seafood is also high in protein to help curb hunger, keeping us full for hours. Fresh fish is great, but can be pricy to purchase every week. Consider frozen fish fillets or shrimp, which tend to be less expensive, and don’t overlook canned seafood to whip up easy salmon patties, quick sardine toast or a classic niçoise salad.
Nosh on Nuts to Decrease Your Appetite
Nuts pack in protein and fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic, which makes them filling foods. A daily serving may also help you lose weight, according to a preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago. Another study published in the Journal of Proteome Research found that people on a 12-week diet that included a handful of mixed nuts daily had higher levels of serotonin, which is a hormone that can decrease appetite, than those who didn’t eat nuts.
However, the calories from nuts and nut butters can add up quickly because they are such a rich source of healthy fats, says Kennedy. While this fat is not a bad thing and is actually good for you, it’s important to keep an eye on portion size when consuming nuts. Kennedy recommends keeping your portion size to 1.5 oz, or a small handful of nuts, each day. (The amount of fat differs from nut to nut; for example, 1.5 oz of whole almonds have about 21 g of fat).
If you find that you’re not losing weight, take a look at your portion of nuts again and see if you need to make adjustments. It’s also important to choose nuts without any added fat, sugar, or salt, which can decrease the overall healthfulness of the nuts, Kennedy advises.
Greek or Natural Yoghurt (Unsweetened)
Yoghurt is an excellent source of protein, which is known to curb hunger and prevent overeating. It’s live bacteria is also an excellent source of probiotics, helping promote digestive health, which in turn may assist metabolism.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
Like other vegetables, they’re high in fiber and tend to be incredibly filling.
What’s more, these types of veggies generally contain decent amounts of protein.
They’re not nearly as high in protein as animal foods or legumes but still high compared to most vegetables.
A combination of protein, fiber and low energy density makes cruciferous vegetables the perfect foods to include in your meals if you need to lose weight.
Though we singled out quinoa above, whole grains in general (we’re talking cereal, rice, pasta, and more) are conducive to weight loss, especially when they’re used in place of refined—white—grains. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that substituting whole grains for refined grains in the diet increases calorie loss by reducing calories retained during digestion and speeding up metabolism. Unlike refined grains, whole grains are packed with satiating, heart-healthy fiber.
Avocados are a fruit that provides fiber and beneficial fats, as well as many other nutrients. They may also help promote weight management.
A studyTrusted Source of American adults found that people who consumed avocado weighed significantly less and had a lower BMI than those who did not. People who ate avocado tended to eat more fruits, vegetables, and fiber than people who did not, as well.
The people who ate avocado had an overall healthier diet and consumed significantly less added sugar than those who did not. Similarly, their risk for metabolic syndrome was lower than for those who did not consume avocado.
Gut health is a trending topic these days, and for good reason. In addition to supporting immunity and good digestion, a healthy balance of good bacteria in the intestinal tract may help to promote fat burning. Aim to include a few bites or sips of probiotic-rich foods most days, in addition to eating prebiotics (like bananas, asparagus, legumes and onions) which provide fuel for our healthy gut “bugs.” Good sources of probiotics include kefir and yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha and tempeh.
Drink More Water to Avoid Overeating
Water should be a staple on your list of foods for weight loss, even though it isn’t a “food” per se. A study published in 2014 the Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine found that drinking more water (more than the usual intake) reduced weight and body fat and suppressed appetite in overweight female participants. Another study, published in the July–August 2016 issue of Annals of Family Medicine, found a significant association between inadequate hydration and elevated body mass index (BMI), and inadequate hydration and obesity.
“I recommend you drink a glass of water before you eat and between servings,” Kantor says. And if you’re drinking alcohol, he suggests having a glass of plain water between drinks. “Your intestines can only hold so much volume,” Kantor says. “Water will fill you up quickly and prevent you from overdoing it on foods and drinks that don’t help with weight loss.”
Also, some people overeat because they mistake thirst for hunger. The parts of the brain where the body assesses hunger and thirst are very close together, explains Kennedy. For this reason, it’s very common for someone to feel hungry when they’re really just dehydrated. Staying well-hydrated is the best way to make sure than any hunger pangs are actually hunger.
Dark leafy greens are the perfect weight loss food being low in fat, energy and carbs, yet rich in dietary fibre. They are ideal for adding bulk to meals for negligible additional kilojoules, whilst boosting the overall nutrient content being excellent sources of folate, calcium and disease-fighting antioxidants.
Eating chili peppers may be useful on a weight loss diet.
They contain capsaicin, a substance which has been shown to reduce appetite and increase fat burning in some studies (37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source).
This substance is even sold in supplement form and a common ingredient in many commercial weight loss supplements.
One study showed that eating 1 gram of red chili pepper reduced appetite and increased fat burning in people who didn’t regularly eat peppers (40Trusted Source).
However, there was no effect in people who were accustomed to eating spicy food, indicating that a certain level of tolerance can build up
A myriad of different teas have been shown to aid weight loss, and green tea is no exception. In fact, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that after just two weeks, those who sipped four to five cups of the green brew each day, in addition to working out for 25 minutes, lost more belly fat than those who didn’t imbibe. Scientists attribute green tea’s ability to shrink waists to the beverages catechins, a type of antioxidant that hinders the storage of belly fat and facilitates rapid weight loss.
Berries are extremely low in energy density, being low in both kilojoules and sugar when compared to other fruits. Even better all those tiny seeds mean they are packed with dietary fibre, making them extremely satisfying.
Not all fats are created equal.
Coconut oil is high in fatty acids of a medium length, called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
These fatty acids have been shown to boost satiety better than other fats and increase the number of calories burned (48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source).
What’s more, two studies — one in women and the other in men — showed that coconut oil reduced amounts of belly fat (50Trusted Source, 51Trusted Source).
Of course, coconut oil still contains calories, so adding it on top of what you’re already eating is a bad idea.
It’s not about adding coconut oil to your diet but about replacing some of your other cooking fats with coconut oil.
However, studies show that coconut oil is less satiating than MCT oil — a supplement that contains much higher numbers of medium-chain triglycerides (52Trusted Source).
Extra virgin olive oil is worth mentioning here, as it’s probably one of the healthiest fats on the planet.
You likely don’t pay much mind to sesame seeds, but research shows that the crunchy little buggers may play a crucial role in weight maintenance. So, you should seriously consider tossing them into a salad or whole wheat noodle dish. Researchers suspect its the lignans—plant compounds—found in sesame seeds (and flax seeds) that makes them so special. In a 2015 study, women who consumed high levels of lignans tended to weigh less and gain less weight over time when compared to women who didn’t consume these compounds in high amounts.