People should buy nutrient-dense foods if they are trying to lose weight. Foods that provide protein and fiber could be especially helpful for weight management.
One study found that some foods — including fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and yogurt — were connected with weight loss.
In the same study, potato chips, sugary beverages, red meats, and processed meats were associated with weight gain.
Based on these findings, it may be best to limit fried foods, foods with added sugar, high-fat meats, and processed foods when trying to shift the pounds.
Though the right foods may help, physical activity is essential for losing weight and keeping the pounds off. It is important to check with a doctor before starting any physical activity program.
Foods that provide both protein and fiber may help with weight loss.
Eggs are a popular food, particularly for breakfasts, that may help promote weight loss.
In a small study of 21 men, researchers compared the effects of eating eggs or eating a bagel for breakfast on food intake, hunger, and satisfaction.
They also looked at levels of blood sugar, insulin, and ghrelin, which is also known as the hunger hormone.
They found that men who had eaten the egg breakfast ate significantly less at their next meal, and in the following 24 hours, than those who had eaten the bagel breakfast.
Those who had eaten the eggs also reported feeling less hungry and more satisfied 3 hours after breakfast than those who had eaten the bagel.
After breakfast, the egg group also had less of a change in their blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as lower ghrelin levels than the bagel group.
Starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal could also result in a lower number on the scales.
A study involving 47 adults looked at differences in appetite, fullness, and next meal intake after participants ate oatmeal, as opposed to an oat-based ready-to-eat breakfast cereal.
After eating oatmeal, participants felt significantly fuller and less hungry than after eating the cereal. Also, their calorie intake at lunch was lower after eating oatmeal than after eating breakfast cereal.
While both breakfasts contained the same amount of calories, the oatmeal provided more protein, more fiber, and less sugar than the cereal.
The authors concluded that the difference in fiber, specifically a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, was probably responsible for the results.
3. Beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas
As a group, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peas are known as pulses. They may influence weight loss due to their effect on fullness, as well as their protein and fiber content.
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.
Researchers analyzed studies that had looked at the effect of the consumption of pulses on weight loss.
Weight loss diets that included pulses resulted in significantly greater weight loss than those that did not. Weight maintenance diets that included pulses also resulted in weight loss compared with those that did not.
A study involving overweight and obese women compared a weight loss diet supplemented with 50 grams (g) of almonds a day with a weight loss diet that did not include nuts. After 3 months, women in the almond group lost significantly more weight than women in the nut-free group.
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 as part of 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.
Avocados are a fruit that provides fiber and beneficial fats, as well as many other nutrients. They may also help promote weight management.
A study of American adults found that people who consumed avocado weighed significantly less and had a lower BMI than those who did not. People who ate avocado tended to eat more fruits, vegetables, and fiber than people who did not, as well.
The people who ate avocado had an overall healthier diet and consumed significantly less added sugar than those who did not. Similarly, their risk for metabolic syndrome was lower than for those who did not consume avocado.
Fiber has been linked with weight management, and berries tend to be some of the highest-fiber fruits.
One cup of raspberries or blackberries provides 8 g of fiber. Berries can be added to many foods, such as oatmeal, yogurt, or salads.
7. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts also contain fiber that may be helpful for weight loss.
One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 6 g of fiber, which is 24 percent of the daily value for fiber.
Things to look for when choosing foods for weight loss
Instead of fried foods, people should choose foods that have been baked, broiled, or grilled. Lean proteins, including beans, chicken, eggs, fish, and turkey are good alternatives to high-fat meats.
When choosing foods for weight loss, it is also important to be mindful of portion sizes, even for healthful foods.
Sugar-sweetened beverages can provide a significant amount of calories but do not result in the same sense of fullness as solid foods. Choose calorie-free beverages instead of juice and soda, such as water or unsweetened tea.
Other useful weight loss tips
Branding some foods as "bad" can lead to cravings and guilt.
- Exercise is a key part of weight loss. The American College of Sports Medicine recommend adults get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week, which equals 30 minutes 5 days a week. People should speak with a doctor before starting a new workout routine.
- Concentrate on making healthful changes instead of concentrating only on the number on the scales. Mini goals may feel less overwhelming than one large goal.
- Avoid labeling foods as "good" and "bad." Forbidden foods can lead to cravings and then guilt when those foods are eaten. Choose nutritious foods most of the time and enjoy treats in moderation.
- Avoid getting overly hungry. Waiting to eat until starving can make it harder to be mindful of healthful choices.
- Planning meals ahead of time can help ensure healthful choices are available, especially since many restaurant meals tend to be higher in calories, fat, and salt.
- Enlist friends and family members to help support health goals and behavior changes.
- Consult a registered dietitian who is a food and nutrition expert and can provide individualized information to help with weight loss.
- Work on getting adequate sleep and managing stress levels in addition to choosing healthful foods and staying active, as sleep and stress affect health.