When it comes to weight loss, you really are what you eat. Lean, low-calorie foods can aid your weight loss efforts and potentially help you get the body you want. However, calories aren’t the only dietary focus in weight loss. It’s also important to make sure your body gets the right nutrients it needs to operate properly while staying full. By making the right choices within the major food groups, you may be on your way to a gradual weight loss plan with results that stick. As always, make sure to talk to your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Best Fruits & Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are at the core of a healthy diet. In fact, they should make up half of your plate at each meal. Not only is produce low in calories, but it’s also high in fiber. This combination helps keep you fuller on fewer calories. Stock up on the following fruits and vegetables at your next trip to the grocery store:
- Broccoli (high in fiber and calcium)
- Carrots (high water content)
- Grapefruit (may lower insulin and boost fat loss)
- Oranges (one of the most filling fruits)
- Pears (just one provides 15 percent of daily fiber, according to Health magazine)
A Grainy Diet
The right grains can make or break your weight loss efforts. Enriched grains are often considered empty calories because they provide little nutrients and fiber per serving. Whole grains help you lose weight quicker because they contain more fiber than enriched flour products. Ultimately, you’ll eat less because you get full quicker. Examples of whole grains include whole wheat bread and pasta, as well as oats, brown rice and quinoa. Oats and brown rice are considered resistant starches, which are extremely filling with few calories. Furthermore, resistant starches may help you burn extra fat naturally long after consumption. Quinoa, native to South America, is also considered a hunger-fighting protein with almost half of your daily protein needs per one-cup serving.
Plant-Based Protein vs. Animal Protein
When it comes to animal protein, red meat and dark poultry generally contain the most fat and calories. It is best to choose white poultry and the leanest cuts of red meat you can. Certain fish, such as salmon, are also great selections because they are low in calories yet high in heart-healthy fats. To really boost weight loss, you may consider adding more plant-based protein to your diet. Beans and legumes have high protein levels without all of the fat and calories. Kidney and white beans are resistant starches, so you might choose these more often than other versions. Black beans are also high in protein, with 15 grams in just one cup. While you don’t have to discount animal proteins entirely, you’ll likely find quicker weight loss results when trading them for more beans and legumes.
Choose Water Over Other Beverages
Buying healthy beverages is overwhelming these days, thanks in part to the hundreds of selections available at the grocery store. Some companies even promise healthy results just by drinking their brands of specialty water. The truth is that nothing is better for your health or weight loss efforts than plain water. Aim for eight glasses a day, and add a splash of fresh lemon juice if you crave a little sweetness. You should also:
- Avoid soda (even diet versions)
- Choose whole fruit over fruit juices
- Limit coffee and tea: these are diuretics that only make you lose water weight
- Avoid alcohol (empty calories and dehydration)
- Choose low-fat or skim milk whenever possible
Get Skinny with Some Fat
To get rid of excess pounds, many weight loss hopefuls eliminate fat from their diets. Contrary to popular belief, your body actually needs fat in order to stay thin. Fat is a macronutrient, just like carbohydrates and proteins. Macronutrients are responsible for providing your body with energy. Fat can also help your body absorb nutrients more efficiently, such as vitamin A and vitamin E. Still, your body only needs a small amount of fat per day to function while achieving an ideal weight. The Mayo Clinic recommends that your total fat intake exceeds no more than 35 percent of all total calories per day. The key is choosing the right fats in moderate portions. Doing so will also help keep you full to avoid binge-eating. Consider the following tips for choosing healthy fats:
- Stick with olive or canola oil for cooking
- Add avocados in salads and sandwiches. They contain oleic acid, which may help decrease hunger and aid weight loss
- Skip deli meat in lieu of peanut butter sandwiches
- Eat more omega-3 fatty fishes, such as salmon and tuna
- Eat a handful of nuts as a snack instead of crackers
A healthy diet is just one way you can increase the rate of weight loss. It’s also important to add more movement throughout the day to burn extra calories. Despite your desire to quickly lose excess pounds, keep in mind that a steady loss of one to two pounds per week is safest, and is most likely to stick.
(Also read: Easy Ways To Become More Active & Less Sedentary.)