More than one-third – 34.9 percent or 78.6 million – of adults in the country are obese, according to the Journal of American Medicine, and there is no indication of the trend changing. Obesity is a chronic disease and a complex disorder characterized by having too much body fat. The long-held 80:20 ratio suggests that for successful weight loss, 80 percent of the results are based on what you eat and 20 percent from your physical activity, Lisa Mikus, RD, CNSC, CDN, says. “Our bodies are so dynamic and perform such complicated metabolic processes that it’s hard to reduce such a highly argued topic like weight loss down to a simple ratio,” she adds. “Yet, I do believe that nutrition is more crucial to weight loss than physical activity, especially initially, but physical activity can supplement a foundation of healthy eating with the goal of healthy weight loss.
Potatoes and sweet potatoes are absolutely fine to have when you are trying to lose weight, Mikus says. They contain vitamin C and potassium, and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, fiber, and manganese among others, she adds. Be mindful of the portions and remember that consuming an excess of carbs can turn into body fat. “Also, eat the skin!” she adds. “It contains fiber and vitamins.” Pair your carbs with a fat and protein to help delay gastric emptying and slow down absorption to avoid a blood sugar spike, Mikus says.
“Sometimes the craving for something sweet just has to be satisfied,” Dr. Rob Silverman, a nutritionist, says. He recommends fresh berries as one option. High-fiber and antioxidant-rich berries such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and/or raspberries are delicious with some cottage cheese and make for a healthy satisfying snack.
Lean cuts of meats are important for satiety as well as help support lean body mass, Mikus says. Lean beef, for example, is a great diet choice due to the large amount of protein (nearly half of the recommended daily value), iron, and B-vitamins it has. They satisfy your appetite for a long time (in addition to being a great source to build muscle). According to a research, lean beef also helps improve your cholesterol. Contrary to popular belief, unprocessed red meat does not raise the risk of heart disease or diabetes, a study says.
Dark chocolate is evidence that munching on a nutritious dessert does not mean weight gain, diabetes and chronic heart conditions. A couple squares of really good dark chocolate will satisfy your sweet craving, Dr. Silverman says. Dark chocolate has zinc which regulates energy, fat storage, and appetite. Just make sure it’s at least 75 percent cocoa. It is packed with antioxidants and all kinds of other healthy chemicals that improve your overall health.
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is a true year-round superfood. It’s a great source of protein as well. This fish will keep you full and even has anti-inflammatory benefits. Just be careful not to add to many condiments. All this tasty fish needs is salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice.” Salmon is also a natural stress-reliever: Studies have shown that people who took omega-3 supplements had a 14 percent reduction in anxiety.
Eggs with yolks are more nutritious than egg whites, Mikus says. “Yes, egg whites are all protein and very few calories; yet, in order to make a mixed meal you should consume a carbohydrate, protein, and fat.” The yolk contains fats, fat-soluble vitamins, phosphorus, and choline, she adds. “Plus, recent research has been released revealing that dietary cholesterol actually does not correlate as strongly to cholesterol in our blood as previously thought. It’s more important to focus on if you consuming enough healthy fat.”
The benefits of hot water are numerous and a few have to do with weight – better digestion, hydration, which helps to shed extra pounds, and raised body temperature which, in turn, increases your metabolic rate, which means you are burning more calories at rest. A study showed that drinking hot water helped people lose weight without having to follow a special diet or exercise program. Add monk fruit sweetener to satisfy your sweet tooth, Dr. Silverman says. “[It] is a small melon-like fruit that’s much, much sweeter than sugar. The sweetener is a powder made from the dried fruit and has virtually no calories.”
The best proteins to eat for building and repairing muscles, especially after a good weight workout, are plant-proteins – beans, lentils, and tofu. It’s not all about vegetables. Nuts, seeds, quinoa and whole wheat pasta are other options. Protein helps to build lean muscle, which you need to burn more fat. Research has found that plant-based diets, without counting calories, lead to greater weight loss.
A study found that yogurt consumption was associated with weight loss. Be sure to choose yogurts that don’t contain excessive amounts of added sugar. Buy unflavored varieties and add your own sweeteners, like fresh fruit (for fiber) or honey. A Harvard study says Greek yogurt is “the single best food for shedding pounds.” Researchers came to that conclusion after observing 120,000 people for 20 years. Yogurt balances blood sugar, reduces carb cravings and fills you up for longer.
“Incorporating high fiber foods when trying to lose weight is a great idea,” Mikus says. Some foods with fiber include whole wheat grains. “Research has shown that soluble fiber can help improve one’s cardiovascular health,” she adds. Research also shows that whole grains help you live longer because they well-known for having a lot of fiber which contributes to maintaining healthy digestion. The high fiber content may lower cholesterol production and glucose response and increase satiety.
The link between eating oatmeal and cholesterol reduction is stronger than when the FDA initially approved the health claim’s appearance on food labels in 1997, a study shows. Total cholesterol levels are lowered and LDL, the bad cholesterol, is reduced without adverse effects. Evidence suggests that eating oatmeal may also reduce the risk for elevated blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.
Two fruits a day will really help fill you up and give you plenty of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients without adding a lot of calories from sugar, Dr. Silverman says. “I recommend berries and apples for weight loss. They’re satisfying but relatively low in calories, plus you can get them anywhere year-round.” Apples contain pectin, which slows digestion, according to a study.
They include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. These veggies are rich sources of minerals, vitamins and many important phytochemicals, vitamins A, C, E and K, folic acid, and fiber. They help the body deal with oxidative stress by providing a natural source of antioxidants. A half-cup serving of broccoli provides 3 grams of fiber. They have a low energy density due to their high water and fiber content.
A rich source of healthy fibers and protein, beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are often recommended to people when they are trying to lose weight. On top of that, legumes appear to also help prevent certain diseases, according to a study. Eating one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can contribute to modest weight loss, new research suggests. They make people feel fuller than if they ate a controled diet, and reduce bad cholesterol. Your options are endless as many legumes can be a part of soups, salads and wraps.
Fruits with skin are rich in fiber, Mikus says. A study published in PLOS Medicine found certain types of fruits such as pears are better than others when it came to weight loss. The skin has a large concentration of nutrients, such as insoluble fiber, which helps prevent constipation. Colorful peels can be a concentrated source of potentially beneficial phytochemicals. Some skins are rich in pectin, Soluble fiber helps slow down digestion, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keeps us feeling full.
“Popcorn made from non-GMO corn is a great snack—fun to eat, filling, and high in fiber, plus a cup of popped corn has only about 30 calories,” Dr. Silverman says. Watch out for the butter-flavored popcorn topping, however. “It’s made from partially hydrogenated soybean oil and a lot of chemicals—stuff you don’t want to put into your body.” Air-pop your own popcorn and get creative with toppings. A light sprinkle of salt is always good; or try parmesan cheese, chili powder, curry powder, or your favorite steak rub, he adds.
Avocados are considered a healthy fat since they contain monounsaturated fatty acids, Mikus says. “They are also a calorically dense food.” One cup of sliced avocados is around 230 calories. “Definitely incorporate them in your diet, but don’t go overboard.” A typical serving is about 1/3 of a medium avocado, she adds. Avocados contain fiber, vitamin E, B-vitamins, folic acid, and potassium.
“Unless you know a soup has been made from scratch, avoid just about all of them,” Dr. Silverman says. “Canned or frozen soups from the supermarket, and the soups in restaurants, fast-food places, company cafeterias, and similar settings have tons of salt, lots of additives, and are almost certain to contain added high-fructose corn syrup.” If you must have soup that isn’t homemade, avoid anything creamy, he adds.
Eating more vegetables is important for weight loss and having a healthy dip to go with them can make them taste a lot more delicious. Dr. Silverman says he recommends hummus with his carrot sticks. This snack has a good balance of micronutrients, protein and good quality, monounsaturated fat. Both of them digest slowly to help keep you feeling satisfied. “Other good choices include fresh salsa, guacamole, or a garlicky white bean dip. Avoid dips made with mayo, sour cream, or ranch dressing,” he adds.
“Spicy foods can help with weight loss a bit by raising your metabolism so you burn more calories,” Dr. Silverman says. “Spiciness also helps low-calorie foods like veggies taste great and keep you from getting bored by them.” Foods flavored with chili pepper may help decrease your appetite and make you feel full, according to University of Maryland Medical Center.
Some of the best vegetables to keep you full for longer are all the green leafies and orange veggies, like butternut squash, acorn squash, and sweet potatoes, Dr. Silverman says. They are very filling. All are packed with health-promoting nutrients, like vitamin A, and fiber. Squash is a good source of antioxidants needed for a healthy immune system.
“All nuts are good sources of healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids,” Dr. Silverman says. “Almonds are particularly high in arginine, an amino acid associated with weight loss.” They have more fiber and protein than other nuts. They’re a good source of magnesium and vitamin E and have more calcium by far than other nuts (75 mg per ounce compared to 30 mg per ounce in cashews), he adds. Skip the salt and stick with sprouted nuts. “They’re much easier to digest than raw nuts. Roasted nuts contain oxidized fats, which are pro-inflammatory and carcinogenic.”
Bell peppers, a superfood for weight loss, are low in calories and higher in fiber, Shira Hirshberg from All Foods Nutrition, says. They are mainly made up of water and carbs. Red bell peppers contain more than 10 times the beta-carotene found in green bell peppers and provide157 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. Also, capsaicin, which gives peppers their spice, has been shown to boost metabolism.
Reduce the sugar content in any dish and add more spices, like cinnamon, for a boost of natural sweetness. It is also a great fall superfood that will help you lose weight. The delicious spice helps reduce sweet cravings, and boost metabolism. Cinnamon reduces blood glucose concentration and enhances insulin sensitivity, according to research. Results suggest cinnamon may be effective in moderating glucose response in normal weight and obese adults.
Grapefruit is loaded in vitamin C and full of water which will help keep your body hydrated. The tropical fruit also reduces insulin levels and boots your metabolism. Oranges are also a good source of fiber. A study found that mice that drank blood orange juice along with their regular diet were 13 percent slimmer at the end of a 3-month period. Oranges are also fat-free and low in calories and energy density.