“When it comes to weight loss, it’s no secret: calories are king! That’s because the only way to lose weight is eating less than what you burn (consistently) so your body can be in a ‘calorie deficit’ and shed weight,” says Lauren Hubert, MS, RD, registered dietitian and founder of The Sorority Nutritionist. “For a true body transformation and continued results on the scale, you do have to focus on eating healthy, nourishing foods in the right portions.”
And choosing the right foods can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
“This is because healthy, nourishing foods impact our body, health, and metabolism differently than the calories and nutrients (or lack of nutrients) in less-healthy, ‘fun’ foods,” says Hubert. “As a result, this leads to different results on the scale.”
So supplementing your diet with healthy, wholesome foods will set you up for success. Here are 12 of the best, according to dietitians. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Immediately, According to Science.
“Dairy foods contain both protein and fat which can contribute to fullness and satiety. Specifically, there is evidence that the whey protein found in dairy might play a key role in contributing to satiety,” says Amber Pankonin MS, RD, LMNT, registered dietitian and owner of The Stirlist. On top of supporting weight loss by helping you feel full, whey protein may also help you slim down by helping you tone up: “Whey protein is known as a ‘fast’ protein due to its rapid release of amino acids to the muscle.” When you support muscle growth, you help to increase your body’s metabolism and calorie burn.
For more, check out What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Whey Protein Powder.
“Strawberries are rich in flavonols, and research has shown that a diet rich in flavonoids may help contribute to weight maintenance in adulthood. It may also help to refine dietary recommendations for the prevention of obesity,” says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, registered dietitian nutritionist in New York City.
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“Healthy fats like the ones found in avocado promote satiety, meaning they can keep you feeling full for longer and suppress your appetite,” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in Nevada.
“In addition to healthy fats, avocados contain dietary fiber, which also promotes satiety and keeps a person full for longer and keeps one’s blood sugar stable. If you eat a low fiber food, it may result in you becoming hungrier quicker after consuming that food and may cause your blood sugar to rise then quickly fall, also resulting in hunger pains again.”
“Many different properties of a variety of teas have been studied and shown to have measurable weight loss effects,” says Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian with MyNetDiary. “There has been a big research focus on catechins and caffeine in green tea showing a positive effect on metabolism and weight loss. The usual recommendation is to include 2-3 cups of green tea daily to potentially enhance weight loss.” For more, read: What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Green Tea for Weight Loss.
“Legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dry peas are known as healthful foods due to their fiber content, and have been well researched on their weight management benefits,” says Hubert. “In addition to helping you stay full as a healthy carbohydrate source that packs protein and fiber, it has been shown that legumes can have a modest weight-loss effect even when diets are not intended to be calorically restricted, making them a healthful food to include on your weight loss journey to enhance your results.”
“It’s important to remember that for weight loss to occur, you have to decrease overall calorie intake which can make it difficult to consume all the essential nutrients,” says Pankonin. “Not only do eggs contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, but eggs also contain high-quality protein which can contribute to fullness. One large egg contains about 70 calories and 13 essential vitamins and minerals.”
“As a traditional component of a Mediterranean Diet, research has shown that consumption of pasta is associated with a lower body mass index, waist circumference a waist-to-hip ratio with a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity,” says Gans.
“Walnuts contain anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Walnuts contain the highest amount amongst other nuts of omega-3s, which promote heart health and decrease inflammation in the body,” says Ehsani. “One study done on walnuts even found that walnuts activate the brain’s region involved in appetite control, which helped study participants resist tempting food. However, more research needs to be done in this area. Walnuts are versatile, can be eaten raw, added to salads, ground up into nut butter, or even used in pesto.”
“Increased water intake is correlated with loss of body weight due to two proposed mechanisms-decreased calorie intake and enhanced body fat loss with an increase in metabolism,” says Braslow.
“While peanuts are technically a legume, peanuts are often talked about together due to their similar nutritional profiles and fat contents,” says Hubert. “While nuts and peanuts can be higher in calories and labeled as bad foods on some diet programs, they are in fact very nourishing and associated with a reduced risk of weight gain and obesity due to their high fiber and protein contents… as long as you portion them!”
“Cracking open pistachio shells may slow you down during snack time. The empty shells may be a visual cue that helps snackers eat mindfully,” says Gans.
“While yogurt can sometimes get a bad reputation because of processing with added sugars to make it tastier, don’t be fooled! Yogurt is an extremely healthful food for your gut health, and also your weight loss goals,” says Hubert. “Consistently eating yogurt has been associated with lower BMI (body mass index), lower body weight, smaller waist circumference, and lower body fat. This is due to its high protein content (especially in Greek yogurt that can pack 15 grams per serving) alongside the probiotics yogurts provide that help keep our guts healthy.”
And for more, check out these 10 Weight Loss Snacks That Actually Satisfy, Recommended By Dietitians.