Keeping a healthy weight is crucial. If you are underweight, overweight, or obese, you may have a higher risk of certain health problems.
About two thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Achieving a healthy weight can help you control your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. It might also help you prevent weight-related diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.
Eating too much or not being physically active enough will make you overweight. To maintain your weight, the calories you eat must equal the energy you burn. To lose weight, you must use more calories than you eat. Here are 41 weight loss foods that can really help you lose weight in a healthy way.
A weight-control strategy might include:
- Eating smaller portions.
- Choosing low-fat, low-calorie foods.
- Drinking water instead of sugary drinks.
- Being physically active.
- Eating extra calories within a well-balanced diet can help to add weight.
We aren’t born with an innate craving for French fries and donuts or an aversion to broccoli and whole grains. This conditioning happens over time as we’re exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. A recent pilot study at Tufts University, however, suggests that it’s possible to reprogram your brain’s food cravings so that you hanker for healthier foods instead of high-calorie ‘diet busters.’ In the study, a small group of subjects enrolled in a behavioral weight management program that emphasizes portion-control and education to change eating habits. After six months, brain scans revealed increased reward and enjoyment of healthy, low-calorie foods, and a decrease in enjoyment of unhealthy, higher-calorie foods.
While more research is needed to be conclusive, this is encouraging news for anyone whose weight loss efforts have been sabotaged by unhealthy food cravings. You can learn to enjoy healthy food! Here are 41 weight loss foods that can really help you lose weight in a healthy way.
Foods That Help You Lose Weight
There’s no reason to be afraid of eating fats—as long as they’re the right fats. Oleic acid, a compound in avocados’ healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), may trigger your body to actually quiet hunger. Stick to a quarter or a half of an avocado and watch that belly fat melt away. The creamy fruit is also packed with fiber and protein.
Lean sources of protein help you feel full without adding fat. However, 50% of women ages 18 to 50 don’t know if they get enough of this essential nutrient. Up your intake with salmon; it’s a leaner choice than red meat and is chock-full of MUFAs to boot. A 2001 study found that dieters eating a MUFA-rich diet lost an average of 9 pounds, while their low-fat diet counterparts gained, on average, 6.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is incredibly popular in the natural health community.
It is popular for use in condiments, like dressings or vinaigrettes. Some people even dilute it in water and drink it. Several studies in humans suggest that vinegar can be useful for people who are trying to lose weight. Taking vinegar at the same time as a high-carb meal can increase feelings of fullness and make people eat 200-275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.
One study in obese individuals also showed that 15 or 30 mL of vinegar per day for 12 weeks caused weight loss of 2.6-3.7 pounds, or 1.2-1.7 kilograms. Vinegar has also been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals, which may lead to all sorts of beneficial effects on health in the long term.
Best known for their anti-aging effects, blueberries, while tiny, are a powerful figure-friendly eat: A 1-cup serving sets you back only 80 calories, and helps you feel full with 4 grams of fiber.
Cooked or raw, broccoli is well-known for its cancer-preventing powers, but with a punch of filling fiber in less than 30 calories a serving, which makes it one of the perfect weight loss foods.
7. Brown Rice
Brown rice is a heartier, fiber-packed alternative to less-than-super white rice. A half-cup serving contains 1.7 grams of resistant starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat. Plus, brown rice is a low-energy-density food, meaning it’s heavy and filling but low in calories. One study found that women who ate a higher-energy-density diet gained three times as much weight over six years than women eating a low-energy-density diet.
Just one pear packs 15% of your daily recommended amount of fiber. One study found that women who ate three pears a day consumed fewer calories and lost more weight than those who didn’t. Ditch the peeler though; the skin is where all that filling fiber is hiding!
While it may not be the most flavorful veggie in the world, cauliflower is now being touted as a great replacement for rice and grains, especially among the Paleo crowd. When this relative of broccoli is grated, it literally gets riced and can be served in dishes such as stir fry, jambalaya, or in a favorite rice or pasta dish. The carbs are plentiful in winter, so at least let cauliflower help you out when it can!
Resveratrol, the famed antioxidant found in grape skin, stops fat storage. Studies show that moderate wine drinkers have narrower waists and less belly fat than liquor drinkers. Downing a glass of red wine can boost your calorie burn for a good 90 minutes.
Grapefruit is one of the most effective weight loss foods. Even if you changed nothing else about your diet, eating half a grapefruit before each meal may help you lose up to a pound a week!
A compound in the tangy fruit can lower insulin, a fat-storage hormone, and that can lead to weight loss. It’s also a good source of protein, and because it’s at least 90% water, it can fill you up so you eat less.
12. Kidney Beans
One of several varieties of beans to make the list, red beans offer protein and fiber (more than 5 grams per serving!). Kidney beans are also rich in resistant starch; a 1/2-cup serving packs nearly 2 grams of this slimming carb.
Nuts are another superfood rich in healthy fats that help you slim down.
Almonds in particular can help you shed pounds: In one study, people who added a daily helping of the nuts to a low-cal diet lost more weight than people who followed the same diet but swapped almonds for a carb-heavy snack like crackers.
14. Green Tea
This steamy sip hydrates like water, which can help fill you up and shed pounds. Plus, the antioxidants in green tea will up your fat burn and calorie burn. One study found that five cups a day could help you lose twice as much weight, most of it around your middle.
Lentils are a great source of satiating protein and fiber. A half-cup serving delivers 3.4 grams of resistant starch, a healthy carb that boosts metabolism and burns fat.
Bananas are slimming superfoods at the heart of Health’s CarbLovers Diet. A slightly green, medium-size banana will fill you up and boost your metabolism with its 12.5 grams of resistant starch. Even a ripe banana still ranks high on the list of foods containing RS, with almost 5 grams.
Eggs get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. But the breakfast staple is loaded with protein that will curb your appetite. One study found that overweight women who ate egg breakfasts lost twice as much weight as women who started their days with bagels.
18. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate lovers, rejoice! A nibble of dark chocolate here and there can slow down digestion so you feel full longer and eat less at your next meal. Dark chocolate is full of MUFAs; studies show eating a diet high in these healthy fats can rev your metabolism to burn fat and calories. It may also help by curbing cravings for salt, sweet, or fatty diet-wreckers.
At only 59 calories, you may not expect much from an orange, but thanks to a hefty dose of fiber, it ranks highest among fruits on a list of 38 filling foods put together by Australian researchers. Feeling full can help you eat less throughout the day.
An apple a day can keep weight gain at bay. People who chomped an apple before a pasta meal ate fewer calories overall than those who had a different snack. Plus, the antioxidants in apples may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by excess belly fat or an “apple shape.”
Apples are the ideal on-the-go low-calorie snack. For a pie-like treat, chop up a medium apple and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp allspice and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Pop in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.
This green has been buzzy lately. One raw chopped cup contains 34 calories and about 1.3 grams of fiber, as well as a hearty helping of iron and calcium.
22. Goji Berries
These chewy, tart berries have a hunger-curbing edge over other fruit: 18 amino acids, which make them a surprising source of protein. Snack on them mid-afternoon to stay satisfied until dinner. The calorie cost is only 35 per tablespoon.
Mix 1/4 cup of the dried berries (from health food stores) with 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup walnuts for a nourishing trail mix. Or for dessert, pour 1/4 cup boiling water into a bowl with 2 tbsp dried berries; let sit 10 minutes. Drain, then spoon over 1/2 cup lowfat vanilla frozen yogurt.
The juice gets all the hype for being healthy, but pomegranate seeds deserve their own spotlight. In addition to being loaded with folate and disease-fighting antioxidants, they’re low in calories and high in fiber, so they satisfy your sweet tooth without blowing your diet.
Pop the raw seeds on their own (many grocery stores sell them preshucked) as a snack at your desk. Use them in salads instead of nuts. They’re especially delicious on raw baby spinach with lemon-poppy seed dressing. For another take on the seeds, use our easy recipe for sweet and spicy pomegranate salsa.
Dietitians often refer to plain yogurt as one of the perfect foods that help you lose weight, and for good reason: With its trifecta of carbs, protein and fat, it can stave off hunger by keeping blood sugar levels steady.
Use low-fat plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise in chicken or potato salad, or top a baked potato with a bit of yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. You’ll save 4.7 grams of fat per tablespoon. Look for Greek yogurt, which has more protein than other versions.
25. Chia Seeds
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and iron, chia seeds are great for weight loss because they act like a sponge, absorbing sugar and stabilizing blood sugar levels, says Kotsopoulos. Because of their high fiber content, the tiny seeds can hold up to twenty times their weight in water, so when they’re mixed with liquid they plump up and absorb excess moisture. Add them to your oatmeal or put them in a bowl with unsweetened chocolate almond milk-they will absorb the liquid and gelatinize, similar to the consistency of a rice pudding.
26 Chicken Breast
While not an option if you’re going vegetarian or vegan, this is often used by dieters and bodybuilders alike because of its high protein value and low amount of fat. Dark pieces of chicken just don’t measure up when it comes to quality protein. Most Americans have no trouble adding chicken to the diet, since it’s one of the most popular meats in the country.
Just remember that it should be skinless. Try using different spices like the ones mentioned above to make it more interesting. Combined with strength training this can help tone your muscles leading to a higher metabolism.
Perhaps it’s because it takes us back to our simian ancestry that makes eating a banana seem natural. The more studies they do on the effects of bananas in humans, the more attention they get as a definite way to help keep us at our ideal weights. They’re super easy to incorporate into the day, since they’re so versatile.
Cut some up and add it to oatmeal, keep a bunch around as a quick grab when you need something sweet or on-the-go. Just stick to one a day since they are a source of sugar as well.
Opting for mushrooms instead of pepperoni or sausage on your next pizza may do little to help drop the pounds, but increasing your intake of mushrooms along with other healthy foods should yield better results due to their low calories and high vitamin content.
Be sure to branch out when it comes to mushrooms, trying the ones that may look a little strange instead of always opting for the button mushroom used everywhere. They all have their own unique characteristics, but all share the common bond of helping you to lose weight.
Some say that you burn more calories eating cantaloupe than what it contains. Whether or not that’s the case is up for debate, but this is still a great food to add to your repertoire for weight loss. It’s sweet, but it’s not high in calories the way most sweet things are. It also has fiber in it, even though it doesn’t taste like it does.
It goes great in a fruit salad with other diet-assisting fruits like honeydew, strawberries, or simply by itself as a quick snack or sweet pick-me-up. Added bonus: it helps to make your skin look great.
Spinach is often a vegetable left on the plate of children, but adults are coming around to it since it really does contain a lot of good things in it for losing weight and general well-being. You can eat it in several different ways, fresh as a salad, in a can, and it also comes frozen. It works for weight loss by adding bulk to your stomach without tacking on the calories.
This is a good vegetable to buy organic if you can, since conventional spinach picks up a lot of chemicals from the fields.
Don’t underestimate the power of cinnamon, it’s not just for baking anymore. You can get weight loss benefits simply by adding more cinnamon to your diet, with teaspoon a day showing positive results. What causes the magic? It’s the way that cinnamon helps to regulate your blood glucose levels. These play a major part in how you feel throughout the day, how energetic you are, or how sluggish you can get.
Maintaining good blood sugar levels also helps you resist cravings. Just make sure that you’re not counting that cinnamon on your cinnamon roll!
Asparagus has plenty of positive effects in the body, and each of them seems to play a particular role in helping you lose weight. The first is that it assists your body in expelling toxins and other wastes. It also helps with digestion and keeps good bacteria in your gut. Not to mention that it’s a superfood, so it has a ton of vitamins and minerals that help you all-around.
A lot of dieters also like the way asparagus tastes, and it’s very easy to prepare, and accepts seasonings and spices very well making it a good addition to your regular menu.
33. Olive Oil
The reason olive oil helps you to lose weight is because it can take the place of other things like salad dressing and other oils that are considered bad fats. Even you change nothing else in your diet or lifestyle and just start using olive oil you should still benefit by losing weight. But most people find that if they start to embrace more of a Mediterranean diet the results are accentuated.
Almost any diet that replaced the Standard American Diet is going to be better for you and cause the pounds to drop, and using more olive oil in your life can bring many positive benefits.
34. Turkey Breast
Turkey breast is one of the great foods that help you lose weight, because it’s so convenient to eat in moments of weakness, and because it provides a lean protein source. Those on a no-carb or low-carb diet will be going through plenty of turkey breast and other meats, and those that are on a diet where you balance carbs with proteins will also find it useful.
The protein it contains can also help if you’re strength training or trying to build muscle in an attempt to rev up your metabolism. This works by increasing the number of calories your body burns 24 hours a day.
You can sprinkle flaxseeds on most anything, and it would be a better option than many of those sprinkle diet programs that keep popping up. This is because it contains things that help your body, like omega-3s, and it contains fiber, which will help you feel full.
It’s the essential fatty acids that also work to give your metabolism a boost. As a side bonus it also lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in your body, and made it onto our list of superfoods for its many healthy benefits and ease of use.
These fish may be tiny but they pack a huge wallop in terms of pound-shedding power. Sardines are high in protein and omega-3s to maintain muscles, and they’re also low in mercury and calcium, which makes them a smart choice for pregnant women, and perfect weight loss foods. Soaking sardines in milk for an hour is a sure way to get rid of the fishy taste if that’s throwing you off.
Turmeric’s health and healing properties have been known and celebrated for hundreds of years by Eastern traditions, and now science is starting to find out why. “Turmeric has highly potent anti-inflammatory properties, especially the orange pigment, curcumin, a phytochemical that helps prevent and treat diseases such as heart disease and diabetes,” explains Mary Hartley, R.D.
Quinoa is an ancient, naturally gluten-free grain that has been around for thousands of years. Pop culture is catching up and now quinoa can be found almost anywhere. Packed with protein, iron, and energy-boosting B vitamins, it’s the perfect low-calorie, low-glycemic substitute for your holiday grains: think stuffings, salads, granola.
39. Low-Fat Milk
The same fatty acid is found in milk, and milk’s proteins can keep you feeling satisfied. The added calcium may also help; in one study, women burned more fat and calories when they had 1,000 to 1,400 milligrams of calcium per day.
40. Coconut Oil
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 compared to other fats, as well as increase the amount of calories burned.
There are also two studies, one in women and the other in men, showing that coconut oil led to reduced amounts of belly fat.
You can use this herb, a staple in French cooking, in place of salt in marinades and salad dressings. Plus, tarragon lends a sweet, licorice-like flavor to bland foods. Rub 2 tbsp dried tarragon on chicken before baking or grilling. Or make a tasty dip by mixing 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon into 4 oz lowfat plain yogurt and 1 tsp Dijon mustard, recommends Jacquelyn Buchanan, director of culinary development at Laura Chenel’s Chèvre, a fromagerie in Sonoma, California.