Oatmeal to watermelon
Losing weight is a challenge for many people. While most diets focus on what you shouldn't eat — high fat, high sugar, high-calorie foods — knowing what high-nutrient, healthy foods you should be eating are just as important.
Have you started your day with sugary breakfast cereals or drive-through sausage biscuits? Many quick breakfasts are loaded with calories, but rolled oats cooked in water have a mere 165 calories per 1/2 cup serving and contain fiber and protein to help keep you feeling full for longer.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach, collard greens, kale, and other dark leafy greens are high in vitamin A and very weight loss friendly — an entire 10-ounce package of spinach only has 65 calories. Animal studies suggest that vitamin A may help improve insulin sensitivity, improving metabolic health.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium which has been shown to reduce body mass index (BMI) significantly. Magnesium also helps you get good quality sleep which is crucial for healthy appetite control.
Trying to cut carbs but missing pizza, rice, or mashed potatoes? Cauliflower can be eaten riced, mashed, or made into a healthy alternative for pizza crust, tortilla chips, and more. An entire medium head of cauliflower only contains 150 calories. Cauliflower is high in vitamin C and folate. It is part of the cruciferous vegetable family which contains compounds that may help prevent cancer.
Watermelon gets its name from its high water content — 92% of the fruit is water. This water can help you stay hydrated, and good hydration can boost your metabolism and support your weight loss efforts. Watermelon also contains more lycopene than any other fruit or vegetable, which may help decrease your risk of cancer and heart disease.
Blueberries to zucchini
These little berries pack a nutritional punch — blueberries are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Blueberries' compounds may help protect you from heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease, reduce inflammation, and support your immune system.
The high water content in blueberries helps you feel full, and a cup of blueberries only contains 60 calories, making this a great, high-nutrient choice for people trying to lose weight.
Like cauliflower, turnips can be a great substitution for mashed potatoes — a cup of mashed turnips has 51 calories and as much calcium as half a slice of cheese.
Quinoa is a seed that's eaten cooked and considered a whole grain. It's rich in various nutrients — magnesium, folate, B1, protein, and fiber. Quinoa is a complete protein; one cup contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Both protein and fiber help you feel full for longer.
Tofu is high in protein and makes a weight-loss-friendly replacement for red meat and other protein sources high in saturated fat.
Zucchini is high in fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients and is low in calories, making it an excellent choice for weight loss. As a bonus, you can spiralize zucchini to make a low-calorie, low-carb alternative to pasta.
Fatty fish to apples
11. Fatty fish
Fish like herring, sardines, salmon, and trout contain lots of Omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce inflammation in the body and reduce your risk of stroke and heart failure. In addition to healthy fats, fatty fish are a great source of protein.
12. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate can be an excellent choice for a weight-loss-friendly dessert. Dark chocolate's phytonutrients may reduce inflammation and blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.
Two eggs contain around 150 calories and 12 grams of protein. Eggs are quick and easy to prepare as a healthy breakfast or a weight-loss-friendly snack.
14. Grass-fed beef
Grass-fed beef may contain less total fat content, more antioxidant vitamins, and more omega-3s than grain-fed beef. For weight loss and heart health, choose lean beef with 10% fat or less to limit saturated fats in your diet.
An apple a day might be able to keep the pounds away — apples are a great source of fiber and vitamin C, and a medium apple only contains 95 calories. Apples contain phytochemicals like quercetin that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may help lower your cholesterol.
Lentils to tomatoes
Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, and various nutrients like iron, potassium, and folate. Lentils also contain a slow-digesting starch that can delay the absorption of carbohydrates and lower blood sugar.
17. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds aren't just for ceramic pets and school science projects — they're a highly nutritious food that may help regulate appetite and blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
Chia seeds are a complete protein and contain fibers that slow down digestion, preventing blood sugar spikes and helping you feel full.
18. Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Chickpeas have a low glycemic index and low glycemic load, which helps keeps blood sugar stable. Combined with their high fiber and protein content, chickpeas are an excellent food for appetite regulation.
Tomatoes are low in calories — only 33 calories in a large tomato — and contain many antioxidants and other nutrients. Tomatoes can help prevent water retention and bloating and even fight leptin resistance, a condition associated with obesity.
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Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: "The effects of magnesium supplementation on obesity measures in adults: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials."
Harvard Health Publishing: "Confused about eating soy?," "The pros and cons of root vegetables."
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Apples," "Chia Seeds," "Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)," "Lentils," "Quinoa."
Indian Journal of Medical Research: "Vitamin A as a key regulator of obesity & its associated disorders: Evidences from an obese rat model."
Keck Medicine of USC: "6 Fruits That Can Help You Lose (Or Maintain Your) Weight."
Mayo Clinic: "Does grass-fed beef have any heart-health benefits that other types of beef don't?," "Nutrition Spotlight: Dark Chocolate," "Start your day with healthy oatmeal."
Mayo Clinic Health System: "Cauliflower: The new nutrition superstar," "Eating for your heart: The Mediterranean diet," "Extend vegetable season with squash and zucchini," "Get your fill of fall superfoods," "The power of blueberries," "The wonders of watermelon."
National Academy of Sports Medicine: "BEST FOODS FOR WEIGHT LOSS: THE TOP 15 FOODS TO SHED CALORIES," "PROTEIN AND WEIGHT LOSS: HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED TO EAT PER DAY?"
UChicago Medicine: "Getting more sleep reduces caloric intake, a game changer for weight loss programs."
U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Spinach, raw."