Eating a varied diet focused on nutrient-dense whole foods rather than individual items is often best for weight loss. However, within this diet, specific foods can bring additional benefits.
For weight loss, a person’s overall diet composition and lifestyle are more important than any specific foods. That said, focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods can provide the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and other compounds vital to good bodily function and overall health.
A balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, beans and pulses, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains is a good starting point for weight loss diet planning.
Once a person ensures they are getting all the necessary nutrients for a healthy body, they can either reduce calorie intake or increase activity levels to start losing weight at a moderate rate.
This article details which foods can help to make up a balanced, healthy diet for weight loss.
Foods that are high in protein can help people to feel fuller for longer, something known as satiety.
Prioritizing satiating proteins can help people to reduce their overall calorie intake without intense hunger feelings.
Similarly to eggs, fish can provide high amounts of protein and healthy fats in a relatively low calorie package. As a result, replacing meats such as beef and pork with lean seafood can reduce overall calorie intake and
Examples of lean white fish include:
Oily fish can also play a crucial role in overall health. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines contain high levels of Omega-3, a polyunsaturated fatty acid. As part of a balanced diet, these fats can help reduce the risk of heart and metabolic diseases.
All proteins can increase satiety and aid weight loss. However, when choosing meat as a primary protein source, it is important to opt for lean sources to reduce fat and caloric intake.
Lean protein options include:
- skinless chicken or turkey breast
- pork chops with the fat removed
- lean steak cuts such as flank
Plant-based protein sources
For people following a plant-based diet or those wishing to limit their intake of animal products, there are several healthy protein sources available, including:
Whole fruits and vegetables can provide good amounts of fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Certain items can also add protein and natural sugars to the diet.
Fruits are naturally nutrient-dense and relatively low in calories.
While fruits are naturally high in sugar, they are also good sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In fact, the fiber content in many fruits helps to
A balanced diet rich in different fruits and vegetables can not only help in weight loss but can
Leafy and cruciferous vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are good sources of carbohydrates and fiber. They are also high in thylakoid plant compounds, which have
Cruciferous vegetables are also high in fiber but are notably food plant-based protein sources, which
- Brussels sprouts
While people may assume that fats are counterproductive to weight loss, they are essential to overall health and numerous body functions.
Prioritizing unsaturated fats over saturated fats can be of particular benefit to health. Avocados contain high amounts of oleic acid, an unsaturated fat that is also found in olives and olive oil.
It’s worth remembering that avocados are energy-dense, so being mindful of portions is key when weight loss is your goal.
Dietary fiber can slow the passage of food through the digestive system and can also release hormones that increase feelings of fullness.
Similarly to eggs, eating oatmeal at breakfast as part of a balanced diet may help people to feel fuller throughout the day and reduce overall calorie intake. Carbohydrates and proteins in oatmeal are also good energy sources and can support an active lifestyle.
Similarly to oatmeal, pulses contain soluble fiber that may slow down digestion and absorption. Eating protein leads to the release of hormones that signal fullness.
Nuts contain protein and fiber, which may help explain their influence on body weight. They also contain heart-healthy fats and other beneficial nutrients. While nuts can be included in a healthful diet, moderation is still essential since they are an energy-dense food.
Weight regain is often a concern for individuals after they have lost weight.
In a large study in Europe, researchers found that people who consumed the most nuts gained less weight during a 5-year period than people who did not eat nuts. They also had less risk of becoming overweight or obese.
When choosing foods for weight loss, it is also important to be mindful of portion sizes, even for nutritious foods.
Regarding cooking methods, instead of fried foods, people should choose foods that have been baked, broiled, or grilled.
Sugar-sweetened beverages can provide a significant amount of calories but do not produce the same sense of fullness as solid foods. Choose calorie-free beverages instead of juice and soda, such as water or unsweetened tea.
The overall composition of a person’s diet, calorie intake, lifestyle, health status, and activity level are the most important considerations when planning for weight loss.
However, certain foods can provide essential nutrients, improve overall health, and help people feel fuller for longer. Including a wide range of these foods in a varied diet while maintaining consistent activity levels is a more sustainable weight loss strategy than focusing on specific items or exclusions.