When trying to lose weight, it can really make a difference when you fuel up on foods that can help your progress instead of hinder. It’s not always about just calories, you want the calories to be quality. Ideal foods for weight loss are foods that leave you satisfied, provide a high amount of nutrients and don’t spike blood sugar and insulin levels.
Here are some broad categories of best food suggestions and how to plan meals and snacks around these foods.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have many wonderful health benefits at any stage of life. When trying to lose weight fruits and vegetables are best foods to eat because they are low in calories and high in fiber. Eating fruits and vegetables during weight loss means you can eat a lot of volume and feel satisfied instead of a small portion of food and still feel hungry.
While there are no magic fruits or vegetables that can help you drop weight instantly, eating a high amount of fruits and vegetables can help lower your energy intake without cutting out most vitamins and minerals.
Eating protein can help during weight loss because protein has the highest satiety value, meaning you feel fullest longest after eating protein compared to carbohydrates and fats. Protein and fiber are similar in that they can keep you satisfied and lower your desire to eat soon after.
According to a 2012 review article, dietary protein could help contribute to the treatment of obesity. Eating protein consistently, whether from plants or animals, can help contribute to weight loss and reduce risk of weight cycling. Examples of lean protein include: chicken breast, 90% or higher lean red meats, eggs, legumes, soy products and low fat dairy.
Besides being a protein and calcium source, dairy could have an extra benefit for weight loss according to some research studies. For example, a 2012 study analyzed the effect of protein intakes in a group of overweight people going through weight loss.
Subjects were split into 3 groups: high protein/dairy, medium protein/dairy and adequate protein low dairy. The high protein high dairy group lost the most amount of visceral fat and gained the most lean body tissue. Researchers concluded that higher protein and dairy intake promotes greater fat loss and lean tissue gain compared to lower dairy intake levels.
Sometimes people can be fat-phobic when going through weight loss. Fat is the most calorically dense macronutrient with about 9 kcals per gram. However, some high fat foods can actually be beneficial for weight loss because they are very satisfying.
A 2014 review article on the effects of nuts on appetite and body weight concluded that eating nuts is not associated with weight gain and may even slightly increase resting energy expenditure. Eating nuts for a snack has the most evidence for possible weight regulation benefits. An ounce of nuts is considered a serving, and most research studies suggest eating about an ounce of nuts daily.
Legumes have a lot of benefits: they are a high source of vegetarian protein, high in fiber and high in many minerals and vitamins. Legumes are especially high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol and can help keep blood sugar stable.
Eating a high amount of legumes, about 4 servings per week, could help lower inflammation in the body according to a 2010 research study. High inflammation in the body is associated with many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, so lowering inflammation along with weight loss can be very beneficial.
Put it together
Putting a meal plan together from these foods can be simple, it doesn’t have to be complicated. According to the MyPlate from the USDA, half of your plate at meal times should be from fruits and vegetables. One quarter should be whole grains and a quarter should be protein. Have a side of dairy to accompany the meal.
Aim for choosing a variety of foods. Eat different colors of fruits and vegetables every day, try different lean proteins to diversify minerals and eat various types of dairy so you don’t get bored. Pair a fiber source with protein and a healthy fat at each meal and snack for sustained energy and high nutrient intake.
The best foods for weight loss are simple: fruits, vegetables, legumes, fats, lean protein and dairy. Eat a variety within each category to get a wide array of nutrients your body needs for healthy weight loss. Eating protein and dairy may be especially beneficial for fat loss and keeping lean tissue during weight loss.
Higher fat foods like nuts can actually help with weight stability and should not be avoided during weight loss. For meals, eat at least half your plate of fruits and vegetables and choose healthy options for protein, dairy and grains.
References used in this article