Superfoods To Keep The Weight Off (cont.)

One recent study looked at a group of obese adults who ate three, 6-ounce servings of fat-free yogurt a day as part of a diet reduced by 500 calories from their normal intake. The study found that this group lost 22% more weight and 61% more body fat than another group of participants who ate the reduced-calorie diet without emphasizing calcium-rich foods. Even more impressive: the yogurt eaters also lost 81% more stomach fat.

More needs to be learned about the mechanism responsible for this increased loss of body fat, but in the meantime, consider giving yogurt a little more respect. At the very least, a light yogurt may help you stave off hunger due to its combination of protein and carbohydrate. Six ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt contains approximately 9 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates (from milk, not sugar), and 311 milligrams of calcium. It's also a great vehicle for healthy additives like fruit or omega-3-rich flaxseed.

5. Beans

Beans help you feel full longer, which means they may work to curb your between-meal appetite. They also give you a big fiber and protein bang for a minimum of calories. One-half cup of pinto beans or kidney beans has around 8 grams fiber and 7 grams of protein, all for about 110 calories.

6. Water

Water is a keeping-it-off superfood because it's a great alternative to other, calorie-containing beverages. When you drink beverages that have calories (say, fancy coffee drinks or sodas) you are not likely to compensate by eating less food. Mattes' research suggests that people who drink liquid carbohydrate (in the form of soda) are more likely to consume more calories than their bodies needs, compared with people who ate the same amount of solid carbohydrate (in the form of jelly beans).

Water is necessary for life, and you should be drinking it throughout the day. You can get your water via unsweetened tea, flavored unsweetened mineral water, regular water with lime or lemon, or cucumber. Even brewed coffee (especially decaf) counts if consumed in moderation.

7. Light Diet Shakes

While diet shakes are not the solution to weight loss or maintenance, research shows that they might help. Women who had lost weight on a reduced-calorie plan that included meal-replacement beverages maintained their losses after a year by drinking at least one diet shake a day in place of a meal, according to a study done by Clinical Research laboratories (and funded by Slim Fast Foods). The study authors concluded that the one-shake-a-day strategy might be helpful for people that have difficulty changing their eating habits.

Of course, it's hard to beat the convenience factor of diet shakes. If you go for a diet shake, choose types that have more fiber and less sugar.

8. High-Fiber, Whole-Grain Cereal

We've all seen those whole-grain cereal commercials ad nauseam. But the keeping-it-off potential value of a good whole-grain breakfast cereal is worth mentioning. Whole grains in general help boost fiber and the nutritional value of your meal, but many studies done on their relationship to weight loss have specifically involved breakfast cereals (many funded by cereal companies).

A recent Purdue University study suggested that having a portion-controlled serving of ready-to-eat cereal (with 2/3 cup skim milk plus a 100-calorie portion of fruit) as a meal replacement may promote weight loss. Other research that looked at data on over 27,000 men over an eight-year period found that as whole grain consumption went up, weight gain over time went down. Another study followed more than 74,000 women (aged 38-63) for a 12-year period and found that those with the greatest increase in dietary fiber gained an average of 3.3 fewer pounds than those with the smallest increase in fiber.

One of the easiest ways to give your daily diet a whole-grain boost is to have a bowl of higher-fiber whole-grain cereal as breakfast or a snack.

9. Grapefruit

Maybe there was something to the old grapefruit diet after all: A recent study found that grapefruit may help encourage weight loss and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Study participants who ate a grapefruit at each meal for 12 weeks lost an average of 3.6 pounds (some in the group lost as much as 10 pounds), while a comparison group that didn't eat grapefruit lost 1/2 pound, according to a recent pilot study by Scripps Clinic in San Diego. The researchers noticed that after the meals, the grapefruit eaters also had reduced levels of insulin and blood sugar.

The American Institute for Cancer Research notes that "there's no scientific evidence to support that grapefruit enzymes burn away fat." And according to the American Dietetic Association, "if you lose weight when you add grapefruit to your eating plan, it's probably because you're substituting it for another food that has more calories."

Of course, there's nothing wrong with that. One pink/red grapefruit takes a bit of time and effort to eat, and it adds 3.5 grams of fiber with only 74 calories. Keep in mind that grapefruit can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications, so check with your pharmacist if you're taking medication.

SOURCES: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2005, November 2004, and November 2003. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 2004 and March 2001. International Journal of Obesity, April 2005. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, June 2000. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, December 2002. The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan. Barbara Rolls, PhD, author, The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan and The Volumetrics Eating Plan; professor, nutritional sciences, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa. Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, director of nutrition, WebMD Weight Loss Clinic, Atlanta.


Last Editorial Review: 9/1/2005 7:22:13 PM

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