15 Weight Loss Friendly Foods You Should Eat
Incorporate these 15 delicious & natural foods to get the maximum benefits towards your weight-loss goals, nourish your body, and crush it at the gym!
Getting physically fit is not only about exercising – what you eat equally matters, if not more. No one needs a diet that makes them feel the need to snack all day. But finding weight loss-friendly foods can be exhausting!
Many dieticians recommend you increase the consumption of veggies, grains, nuts, and different nutrients that are stacked with fiber, protein, and other pound-dropping nutrients. Cutting down on calories without measuring could be one way. However, this isn't the ideal method for getting progressively thinner.
Likewise, you should stack your eating routine with nutrients that fill you up and make you less inclined to look for less desirable choices. Quality nutrition will nourish your body so that you can crush it at the gym. Plus, proper nutrition provides you with adequate calories all day long.
Let's get into the best foods you should have on your radar to help curb cravings and keep you healthy (in no particular order).
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, the benefits of spinach are massive! Without a doubt, Popeye was on to something, and this green vegetable is one of our favorites.
It's packed with vitamin K, folate, vitamin C (surprisingly), magnesium, and much more. Spinach is also a great source of fiber, zinc, choline, and even protein.
You can make an amazing green juice or add spinach to any salad. You can't go wrong with this green vegetable.
2. Whole Eggs
The debate on egg consumption and high cholesterol seems never to end. Some say the cholesterol in eggs is harmful, while others say it can prevent strokes. There doesn't seem to be any convincing evidence that eggs are bad for your heart.
Eggs are nutritionally dense, and they pack a punch for any dieting plan. In every practical sense, eggs are fantastic. Check out Arnold Schwarzenegger -- he even adds the eggshell (entire egg) to his smoothies for the calcium the shells provide.
Eggs are a complete protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids, something no other food has. They're rich in protein, healthy fats, and can make you feel filled with calories. Hard-boiled eggs are better than raw, in case you were wondering.
3. Chia seeds
Cha-cha-cha chia! No, I'm not talking about the ridiculous plant pets. Are those still around? Anyway...
Once a staple of Aztec and Mayan diets, chia seeds were banned in the 1520s for the strange rituals they did. These seeds were associated with strength, and there's a good reason why.
Chia seeds have roughly 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon, and fiber is known to help ward off food cravings. These seeds are also low in calories, have over 2 grams of protein per tablespoon, and have a lot of good fats -- the heart-healthy kind.
Put some chia seeds in your smoothies or add some to top off your salad, yogurt, oatmeal, or anything.
If you're looking for low-calorie and high-protein, tuna is your answer. It's popular among bodybuilders because it keeps them lean.
You will want to make sure you look for tuna packaged in water and not oil. The water versions retain omega-3s better and are lower in calories.
Otherwise, go for lean and not fatty tuna. It's also one of my favorites while eating sushi -- just select sashimi and skip the sugar-rice with nigiri style.
Or, best of all, add tuna to your salad to add high-quality nutrients.
You can even try a 3-day tuna diet for safe and effective weight loss.
What's one key component of all weight loss and any effective diet? Hydration.
With watermelon being made up of 90% water, it will keep your water levels healthy. But how does it help with weight loss?
First, watermelon is a good source of lycopene, a great antioxidant. It is also packed with an amino acid called L-citrulline, which gets converted to L-arginine in the body and helps improve circulation by relaxing blood vessels.
Snacking on this delicious low-calorie treat is beneficial to weight maintenance.
As for nutrient-dense food, salmon is at the top. A 3-ounce portion of cooked salmon contains about 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, and a whopping 21 grams of protein.
According to a 2016 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, "a dietary protein intake higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance during an energy deficit helps to preserve lean body mass (LBM)."
What's more critical with salmon is the pairing. A vegetable side, such as asparagus, would be excellent. The high protein in salmon keeps you full for hours.
7. Chicken & Beef
When it comes to meat, it has to be lean for weight loss benefits.
Lean beef is defined as less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per serving. Some options include sirloin and top round.
With chicken, go for boneless skinless breast meat and cut off any fat.
Lean meats have less saturated fat, and saturated fat is not healthy fat. In fact, it causes inflammation and disease.
Look for meats with clear "lean" labels or something like "less than 4% fat" to be safe.
However, I'm not advocating daily meat consumption either. It wouldn't hurt you to be vegetarian or vegan some days too.
We all know that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away," but is it true? Heck yeah, it is.
Apples are an amazing fruit, with about 4 grams of fiber for a medium-sized apple. That will keep things moving for you.
They are also very low in calories and have a low-glycemic index, which prevents your sugar from spiking while enjoying this sweet treat.
Apples have vitamin C, calcium, and can even help with liver detoxification.
I mean, have you tried apples and natural peanut butter for a snack? If you haven't, it's delicious.
Leptin is a hormone that plays a significant role in weight loss and appetite control. And, if your body experiences leptin resistance, your brain won't send the proper messages to control your metabolism. Not suitable for weight loss.
Eating tomatoes can help reverse leptin resistance, along with reducing water retention and inflammation.
They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, vitamin K, lycopene, and beta-carotene.
Eat a tomato salad with some olive oil, and hey, sprinkle some chia seeds in there too!
10. Cottage Cheese
I think cottage cheese is pretty gross. I've never been able to acquire the taste for it fully, but adding in some berries always helps.
However, many swear by it, and for good reason. It's packed with nutrients such as B12, folate, calcium, selenium, and much more.
A one-cup serving of low-fat cottage cheese has a whopping 28 grams of protein. The high protein count and low calories it contains make this an ideal weight-loss item to add to your list.
11. Bell Peppers
At only 37 calories per serving, single medium-sized bell pepper is excellent for a snack or added to a meal. Loaded with over 3,700 IU of vitamin A and over 200% of vitamin C, it's no wonder this vegetable has been known to help with everything from the common cold to cancer.
While many other peppers have capsaicin to increase metabolism, the bell pepper does not and is known more as a "sweet pepper."
Go for different color varieties of yellow, red, and green to switch up the nutrient content.
12. Dark chocolate
Ok, when I say chocolate, I'm not referring to M&M's or any other type of candy.
You're going to want to get dark chocolate of 70% cacao or higher, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to get the most benefit.
What are the weight loss benefits? Chocolate helps digestion, can slow down your benefits, and is loaded with heart-healthy arginine. One caution on arginine is that it can trigger cold sores, aka lip herpes.
13. Sweet Potato
Are you looking for a filling food with a low-glycemic index and high fiber? Look no further. The sweet potato is a great way to start your weight loss journey.
Did you know sweet potatoes are about 80% water? One cup will give you roughly 750mg of potassium, almost 5 grams of protein, and they are also rich in vitamins A, B6, and C.
There are online books on the sweet potato diet you can look at.
Sweet potato fries do not count towards weight loss efforts, unfortunately.
However, baking them with a touch of olive oil and turmeric is phenomenal.
Lentils are rich in complex carbohydrates, which help boost metabolism, and in turn, burn body fat. They are high in plant-based protein (18 grams per cup) and low in fat (less than 1 gram).
Also, because lentils are high in fiber, they fill you up and decrease hunger.
Brown lentils are great for soup, and green lentils are great for salads. Red lentils are often found in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes as a puree and are delicious! There are many varieties of lentils.
This one is last on the list for a reason -- it's my favorite. It's my go-to meal every morning.
I typically crush walnuts, add some flax seed powder, mix in a little protein powder, and top it off with cinnamon along with some type of berries.
It's a low-calorie and low-fat meal that keeps you full for hours and has been shown to reverse heart disease, according to Dr. Greger.
The most important part of it all is discipline. We all fall off once in a while. However, the goal is to make healthy eating a part of your routine.
Just like having one salad is not going to make you lose weight if you eat like garbage all the time -- having a cheat meal here and there will not hurt you if your meals are predominantly healthy.
All you need to do now is adjust your daily routine and incorporate these 15 delicious foods for maximum benefits.
You can always ramp up your fat-burning with weight-loss supplements. However, eating healthy food is always the best bet.
To your health and the body of your dreams!
Tony Lee, MS, RD
Tony Lee, RD, MS, is a highly qualified and accomplished Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Nutrition Sciences from Arizona State University. Tony brings over two decades of experience in dietetics, specializing in sports nutrition. Interests include studying all aspects of wellness, fitness, genetics, and peak health performance.