Most people are well aware of the foods that will cause weight gain, but which foods can we add to our daily diets to assist with weight loss? What are the healthiest foods to lose weight? Many people associate a weight loss diet with eliminating foods; however consuming specific foods can in fact be beneficial for weight loss.
What are healthy foods?
These foods have a number of characteristics that reduce the appetite, as well as containing valuable nutrients for health and appetite control. High fibre content is one such characteristic, with foods high in soluble fibre being more filling and therefore helping to reduce overall food intake. Many studies have found a link between fibre intake and reduced fat mass. High fibre foods also often have a low glycemic index (or GI), which means that they keep blood sugar levels more constant, leading to less storage of excess sugars as fat in the body and also less hunger.
Contrary to popular belief, fats can also help with weight loss, provided of course that they are the right type of fats. Foods high in unsaturated fats, particularly omega three fatty acids, are thought to contribute to weight loss, with studies showing that people with higher levels of omega threes in their diet are less likely to be overweight or obese.
Protein is also an important consideration in a balanced diet, as foods high in protein once again tend to cause greater satiation and consequently lower overall food intake.
10 Best Foods to lose weight
Beans and legumes
Kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and lentils are all packed full with fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals. The high fibre and protein content make them very filling and therefore ideal in a weight loss diet. Not only will a relatively small portion of legumes keep you feeling satisfied for a very long time, they are also low in fat and simple carbohydrates, meaning they are heart healthy and keep blood sugar levels constant. Legumes are a cheap source of protein and ideal for bulking up fibre and nutritional content, whilst reducing calories and fat levels in meat based dishes, such as lasagnes, pies and stews.
Oats are another low fat, high fibre super-food that will keep you satisfied and less likely to snack throughout the day. Try to choose plain oats, rather than flavoured or toasted varieties, as these are also low in fat and sugar. Less processed oats generally fill you up more, so choose rolled oats instead of quick cook varieties. Porridge oats with low fat milk, yogurt and fresh fruit are the perfect start to the day on a weight loss diet, providing fibre, nutrients and protein. Studies suggest that those who eat a nutritious breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who skip the meal or making unhealthy choices, so oats are an ideal start to your day. Add oats to baking to increase fibre content, or to meat dishes to reduce fat.
Avocados have a bad reputation due to their high fat content; however, they are incredibly nutritious and can play a valuable part in weight loss. They are a good source of vitamins C, B6, folate and fibre. Although high in fat, the majority of this fat is healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Many studies have shown a relationship between unsaturated fat intake and weight loss, and a recent study showed increased weight loss in overweight adults on a calorie restricted diet with an intake of 30g of dietary fats per day from avocado resulted in just as much weight loss as those obtaining fats from other sources. It is essential however to make sure total calories are controlled, so small serve sizes are recommended.
Another high fibre, nutrient rich food that will help you feel full for longer and therefore help with weight loss. Replace lower GI carbohydrate sources such as white rice and potatoes for brown rice for a more filling meal.
Although high in fat and energy dense, a number of studies have found that eating almonds have a beneficial effect on weight loss in small portions. A small portion of almonds per day has been linked to increased levels of cholecystoinin, a hormone which promotes a feeling of fullness from fat containing foods. This increased satiety is linked to reduced intake of less nutrient dense foods. A small handful of almonds also provides vitamin E, magnesium, fibre, monounsaturated fat, calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorous and a good hit of protein.
Low fat milk
Milk is an excellent source of proteins and calcium, essential for bone growth and maintenance. The protein content keeps you fuller for longer, whilst choosing low fat options reduces calories and fat content, making it a suitable choice for a weight loss diet. Add to cereals and smoothies for a healthy balanced breakfast, or use to make creamier more filling protein rich soups instead of cream.
Broccoli is very low in calories, making it an ideal food for a healthy diet. It is high in beta-carotene, vitamin C, folate and potassium, and therefore packs a substantial nutritional punch for the amount of calories.
An excellent weight loss snack when you fancy something sweet, apples are high in fibre as well as being low in calories. They are an excellent source of pectin, a specific type of soluble fibre, thought to promote satiation and regulate blood sugar levels. A study in overweight women found that greater weight loss was associated with a high apple intake compared with other dietary sources of fibre.
Like the avocado, salmon is another high fat food that can contribute to weight loss when consumed as part of a balanced diet. Due to high levels of omega threes, a moderate intake of salmon may help to reduce blood triglycerides, which can help to reduce storage as body fat. In addition it is high in protein and therefore will increase satiation.
Although no fat and low fat diets are popular for weight loss, it is essential to have some fat in our diets for the body to function correctly. Olive oil, being unsaturated and high in protective polyphenols is the ideal way to add this necessary fat to your diet. The main fat source in the Mediterranean diet, Olive oil is known to have beneficial effects for the heart and helps to fight some cancers. A 2010 study showed that low calorie diets enriched with olive oil were more successful for weight loss than a traditional low fat diet, and the Mediterranean diet has long been thought to be one of the healthiest diets in the world, also being effective for weight loss.
As with any diet, the key element for success is burning more calories than you consume, or being in negative calorie balance. In combination with exercise, and a reduced calorie diet, these foods are likely to assist with weight loss. Do not also forget that drinks also have calories so make sure that you read our article about healthy weight loss drinks.
References used for this article.