Weight loss is a concern for many, and it’s a complex issue that requires a lot more than just doing the right workouts. Plenty of research has been done into different kinds of diets and the effects of certain foods on weight loss and management. As research continues to be conducted, scientific knowledge regarding weight and which foods may or may not affect it is continually updated, but citing the latest research, these foods just may be the best for anyone looking to shed some pounds.
A cereal grain, barley is high in dietary fiber, which one study published in The Journal of Nutrition found makes a person feel more full and reduces the risk of developing obesity.
The polyphenols (micronutrients in many plant-based foods) found in lemons suppress weight gain and fat accumulation, according to a Japanese study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition.
A study published in Physiology & Behavior found that the catechins (a type of plant chemical and antioxidant) and caffeine in green tea help your metabolism work more efficiently. That isn’t the only benefit of this beverage; another study found that green tea may reduce the risk of heart attack, making it one of the best foods for your heart.
A University of Sydney study on satiety of common foods published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that boiled potatoes filled people up more than any other food studied. Cold potatoes, on the other hand, are found to have high amounts of resistant starch, which yet another study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition concluded promotes weight loss and maintenance due to a variety of factors, including increased fat breakdown, lower levels of fat storage and preservation of lean body mass.
According to the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council, legumes are rich in fiber and protein, which help keep a person full. The council reports that four out of five scientific trials found a significant amount of weight loss among those who included legumes in a calorie-conscious diet as opposed to those who did not.
Studies in the past few decades have found that obesity and inflammation have a strong link. A study published in the Annual Review of Nutrition found that curcumin — the yellow-pigmented chemical found in turmeric — is naturally anti-inflammatory and therefore helps fight against obesity and insulin resistance. More importantly, the curcumin in turmeric has also been found to improve both memory and mood, providing the perfect justification to eat more South Asian food.
Bananas are high in fiber, increasing satiety which may help decrease body weight. One study in the Nutritions journal also found that increased fruit consumption was associated with subsequent weight loss.
Researchers at The University of Missouri and Purdue University found that high protein intake helped overweight or obese participants feel more full every day and control their appetites in the evenings. The study, which was published in Obesity, a peer-reviewed journal, supports the use of protein powder to increase protein intake in one’s diet.
A 12-week Brazilian study published in Nutrition found that overweight women who ate three pears a day saw more weight loss as opposed to the control group in the study.
Tuna is a good source of protein, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to increase levels of leptin, a hormone responsible for inhibiting hunger, in people with obesity. One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed that increased doses of leptin increased weight loss among obese subjects.
A fruit you’ve never heard of but need to try, goji berries are low in both calories and sugar. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that consumption of goji berries increased a person’s metabolism and reduced the circumference of their waist. Another study linked eating goji berries to prostate tumor reductions in mice, making it one of the foods every man should eat.
A Japanese study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that obese participants who drank apple cider vinegar demonstrated a reduction in body weight, body fat mass and body mass index. Apple cider vinegar has also been lauded by celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Katy Perry, Victoria Beckham and Kourtney Kardashian for purported health benefits such as clearing skin, managing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol, but one of our own editors didn’t have much success with their own experiment.
Kefir is a slightly alcoholic, fermented milk drink native to the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus region. A study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry concluded that drinking kefir decreased weight gain and prevented fat accumulation in obese mice, while a study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that the drink led to similar weight loss as low-fat milk, which is great for those who follow lactose-free diets.
Everyone loves potato chips, but anyone looking to shed some pounds should switch to popcorn, according to a study published in the Nutrition Journal. Researchers concluded that popcorn is more filling than potato chips, a fact that, along with popcorn’s low calories, makes it a good alternative for those who are looking to reduce hunger pains and weight.
A study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that increased intake of ginger led to decreased body weight, hip ratio, waist-to-hip ratio, insulin resistance and fasting glucose. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties, making it one of the best foods to fight bloat.
Researchers at the University of Michigan found that blueberries, perfect with some delicious pancakes or yogurt, helped get rid of belly fat and lowered risk of diabetes in rats. Blueberries are also rich in antioxidants, making them one of the best foods you can eat to lower blood pressure.
Spinach is high in magnesium, a vitamin that many people are lacking, which regulates blood pressure, blood glucose, muscle and nerve function and the synthesis of proteins. In a study published in PLOS One, researchers in Newfoundland, Canada, found that a diet with high magnesium has strong associations with lower insulin resistance and is therefore better for people who are overweight or obese.
Broccoli sprouts are germinated broccoli seeds that look like alfalfa sprouts and taste sort of like radishes. Broccoli sprouts contain a sulfur-rich plant chemical known as sulforaphane, which helps to rectifiy obesity, according to one study published in ScienceDaily
Quinoa is high in fiber, which helps both weight loss and weight management. The grain, which originates in South America, is also high in protein, and a study published in Regulatory Peptides found that increased protein intake resulted in increased satiety and therefore increased weight loss.
A perfectly grilled salmon is as healthy as it is delicious. In addition to being high in protein, salmon, like tuna, has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. An eight-week study done by scientists at the University of Iceland and published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that salmon was especially effective in decreasing inflammation in overweight and obese participants, resulting in weight loss.
Capsaicin, the same active component in chili peppers that makes spicy food feel hot, was found to be associated with a lower prevalence of obesity, according to a study published in Bioscience Reports. The same study also found an association between consumption of capsaicin and loss of belly fat, giving all the more reason to eat more chili peppers in one’s food or check out the world's hottest hot sauces.
British scientists published a study in ScienceDaily that concluded that eating more seaweed can help prevent obesity, as it found that doing so reduced the amount of fat absorbed by the body by more than 75%.
For a drink you sip every morning, there are a lot of things you don't know about coffee. One fun coffee fact is that drinking it stimulates brown adipose tissue, or “brown fat,” which one study published in Scientific Reports found burns calories in order to generate body heat, thereby causing weight loss.
Believe it or not, you can eat pasta to lose weight, according to a recent study published by BMJ Journals in which researchers monitored participants for 12 weeks, during which they were fed half a cup three times every week. The results found that each participant had lost roughly a pound by the end of the trial — not a huge amount, but also proving that pasta may not be the enemy when it comes to weight gain.
Cinnamon was studied by researchers at the University of Michigan in order to see its effect on obesity. After testing the fat cells of volunteers from a range of ethnicities, ages and body mass indices, the researchers found that cinnamaldehyde — the essential oil that gives cinnamon its taste — acts directly on fat cells, causing them to burn energy and boost metabolism.
Not only is honey one of the foods with an impressive shelf life, but researchers at the National University of Malaysia found that it also helps protect against metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that include excess fat around the waist, increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels and high blood sugar. Honey’s low glycemic index helps to limit weight gain and the accumulation of fat, and also lowers blood glucose levels, improves insulin sensitivity and increases lipid metabolism, among other benefits.
Far too many people don’t drink enough water, despite its many benefits, which include weight loss, according to scientists at Virginia Tech. A 12-week study, which followed middle-aged and older adults, found that participants on a low-calorie diet who drank about 16 ounces of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner lost about two kilograms (roughly 4.5 pounds) more than those who were on just the low-calorie diet. And that’s not the only way your body can change when you drink more water.
Flaxseed is the richest source of lignans, a plant-based compound that mimics estrogen in the body. One study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that lignans are associated with less weight gain, which makes adding a tablespoon of flaxseed to yogurt or salad yet another diet method.
Tart cherries have high concentrations of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating the sleep cycle. A University of Arizona study found a link between poor sleep and obesity, as junk food cravings tend to occur due to a lack of sleep. Eating tart cherries, or drinking tart cherry juice, therefore, will not only help a person get enough sleep but also help curb those cravings that lead to weight gain or prevent weight loss.
Garlic gets its strong smell and flavor from a compound called allicin, which one study published in Metabolic Brain Disease found ameliorates metabolic disorders and obesity. Yet another study also found that garlic is one of the foods that may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Not only do grapefruits have lots of fiber, making them quite filling, but they also contain a compound called p-synephrine, which one study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology gave to participants before a workout on an exercise bike. The study found that those participants who had taken p-synephrine burned more fat than carbohydrates when exercising at a low to moderate intensity.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders found that a low-calorie diet enriched with 84 grams of almonds per day resulted in sustained weight loss, particularly when compared to a low-calorie diet enriched with complex carbohydrates instead.
It’s important to know how to pick the perfect watermelon in order to enjoy its taste and its health benefits, which, according to a study conducted by scientists at San Diego State University, include reductions in blood pressure and body weight. The study found that daily consumption of watermelon resulted in participants losing weight and body mass index, as well as seeing an improvement in their blood pressure levels.
There are many ways to cook an egg, but it isn’t how you eat it but when you eat it that affects weight loss. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, an egg breakfast when combined with an energy-deficit diet promotes weight loss, especially when compared to a bagel breakfast.
Strawberries are rich in flavonoids (a type of plant chemical), which one Harvard Medical School study found can help to prevent weight gain when intake is increased.
Many people don’t need much convincing to have a shot of tequila every day, but researchers of the American Chemical Society found that drinking tequila can actually help you lose weight. Tequila contains sweeteners called agavins, which not only reduce blood sugar but also help type 2 diabetics and people with obesity lose weight.
A study done by researchers at the University of Buffalo found that portobello mushrooms help to regulate blood sugar and balance hormones, which can help a person lose weight. The researchers also found that eating mushrooms can help a person exercise longer as well.
According to a study conducted by scientists at the Federal University of Paraíba in Brazil, eating chia seeds can help a person lose a significant amount of weight and waist circumference, as well as improve their lipid profile.
Yogurt has a reputation of being a “healthy” food, but there are many kinds. Researchers from the University of Missouri published a study in the journal Appetite that found Greek yogurt to be the type of yogurt that made participants feel the most full due to its high protein content.
Replacing refined grains with whole grains results in a faster metabolism and fewer calories being retained by the body during digestion, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The calorie loss will thus result in weight loss as well.
Researchers at the Tokyo Medical and Dental University found that drinking tomato juice can help a person lose weight as it increases their resting energy expenditure, or the amount of energy a person spends while at rest. While tomato juice isn’t loved by everyone, its taste does change drastically when a person is at higher altitudes, so it’s worth trying to order on a flight.
According to a study conducted by researchers at Tabriz University of Medical Science, consumption of zinc led to weight loss, blood cholesterol improvement and lower body mass index. Of all foods containing zinc, oysters are known to have the highest amount, making them the most efficient means of increasing zinc intake.
Cooking with olive oil may be a great idea for those looking to lose weight, according to a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health that found that participants that ate a diet enriched with extra virgin olive oil lost more weight than participants on a low-fat diet. While this study did focus on breast cancer survivors, yet another study published in the European Journal of Nutrition concluded that consumption of extra virgin olive oil improved participants’ blood pressure and reduced body fat. Of course, most doctors and researchers also suggest that any diet changes be accompanied by the 50 best exercises for weight loss.
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