Based on our understanding of how to achieve longer-lasting weight loss, there are two essential elements: diet and exercise. In this article, we are going to explore how food can help us lose weight and what specific foods can help us achieve this.
Health and fitness experts, after several decades of continuous research supporting and disproving a lot of conflicting claims, have only one thing to say: there are no magic formulas to losing weight without creating unnecessary health complications. We strongly believe that the only way to effective and long-term weight loss is a reduction in overall consumption of total calories and an increase in the expenditure of energy. This can be easily summed up in the formula, weight loss = less intake + more output.
When we say less intake, we’re talking about the amount of calories that we are consuming every single day. When we talk about more output, we mean the increased expenditure of energy. We must make our body use more energy than usual. It makes perfect sense, actually. The more we need energy and the less energy-giving foods we supply will have to make the body to look for other sources of energy. You know where the body will get that, don’t you?
How Food Can Help with Weight Loss
Food can help us lose weight in a variety of ways.
- High protein foods can help increase energy utilization.
- High fiber foods help increase the bulk of food without increasing caloric content.
- Low calorie foods provide just enough energy for maintaining vital body functions.
- Nutrient-dense foods aid in the more effective and more efficient metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
These are just a few of the many mechanisms in which food can help us prevent weight gain. And if we add increased physical activity, then we can have an overall net loss of weight. Again we would like to reiterate that sensible dieting is very important. Equally important is exercise or increased physical activity to help tone our muscles and make the fat burning process more efficient.
The main thing to understand about dieting is to reduce the overall calorie consumption. Additionally, going for high protein foods can help you increase your energy expenditure. This is because it takes an unusually large amounts of energy to digest protein. Studies show that eating high protein diets can actually increase the amount of calories that are burned. So, if you are typically burning 2,500 calories per day, increasing your protein intake naturally increases energy expenditure. Technically, you may be spending 2,600 calories per day.
The thing about dieting is that it should be achievable. You’re not supposed to starve yourself to death because this can have dire consequences, too. You don’t want to be the next Karen Carpenter for the wrong reasons. As such, it is imperative to choose foods that can help you lose weight but are also packed with necessary vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial substances to keep you staying healthy. The key is to choose:
- High protein
- Low calories
- Low carbohydrates
- Moderate healthy fats
Let us now look at the 10 foods you should include in your weight loss plan.
10 Best Diet Foods
We know you’re concerned about the high cholesterol content of the egg yolk but studies now show that it doesn’t have any effect on blood cholesterol levels. It’s also been shown that whole eggs don’t lead to heart attacks. Instead, it is one of the most nutritious foods that you’ll ever get. One whole egg only has 74 calories but is packed with protein, 6.29 grams per whole egg. Remember, a high protein diet can help you burn an additional 100 calories per day. It may not look like much but considering egg will make you feel full a lot longer, you will also naturally want to eat less. It’s also packed with a lot of vitamins and minerals that can help enhance the whole fat burning process. Now, if you’re going to include eggs in your calorie restricted diet, just imagine how much weight you’ll lose in a few months’ time.
Green Leafy Vegetables
One of the things that really make green leafy vegetables like spinach, Swiss chards, and collards tick when it comes to weight loss is its fiber content. Fiber does not contain any nutrients. It doesn’t contain any calories as well. What it does is that it increases the bulk of the food that is in your digestive tract. When the walls of the digestive tract are stretched to a certain degree, they send signals to the brain. These electrical signals tell the brain to make the body stop eating because it’s already “full”. But the fact is that, what you have in your gut is plain and simple filler that do nothing to increase your calorie or carbohydrate intake. The good news is that, while these kinds of vegetables are full of fiber and low on calories and carbohydrates, they are nonetheless filled with a lot of health-beneficial minerals and vitamins.
Salmon and Tuna
We already talked about how a high protein diet can help you make your body burn more fat. But there’s something else in salmon and tuna that can actually be beneficial in losing weight. Both are natural sources of iodine which is a mineral needed for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. These hormones are needed in a variety of metabolic processes. In simple words, an increase in these hormones can lead to increased metabolic rate. We’ve already tackled how an increase in metabolic rate can help in the more efficient oxidation of fats. Additionally, these fish species are known to be excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These types of fat have been shown to have excellent anti-inflammatory properties so they can reduce the many inflammatory processes that are associated with metabolic diseases and obesity.
These types of vegetables, unlike the green leafy vegetables, are high in protein. Of course, you cannot expect these to have protein content that is comparable to those found in meats. But the point is that, among vegetables, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower have the most protein on a per weight basis. For example, a cup of spinach will only give you 0.9 grams of protein. On the other hand, a cup of broccoli can give you 2.5 grams of protein. The good thing about cruciferous vegetables is that they are also rich in fiber and low on carbohydrates and calories. This combination of high protein, low calories, and low carbohydrates make cruciferous vegetables an ideal food to include in your weight loss diet plan. These vegetables are also rich in potassium which has been shown to be important in muscle development. These are also packed with phytochemicals that have been shown to provide adequate cancer protection.
Contrary to what you may believe in, meats, including lean meat and chicken breast, are the perfect partner for losing weight. We know you’re raising your eyebrows here. But let us consider a few facts. A 3-oz sirloin that has been trimmed to a quarter of an inch of fat only carries 158 calories and a humongous protein content of 25.8 grams. Skinless chicken breast, on the other hand, weighs in at 167 calories per 100 grams with a protein content of 25 grams. How about the fat? Lean meat has about 2.2 grams of monounsaturated fats while chicken breast has 1.5 grams. Remember what we said about high protein diet being able to aid in weight loss? Well, you can see here that both meats have 25 grams of protein per serving. And if you’re afraid of the calories, they’re definitely lower compared to other types of food. Now, if you’re going to add butter to your beef or some other fattening, then you technically increase the calorie count as well as the proportion of saturated fats.
We know you’d be surprised to see boiled potatoes in our list. The reason for this is that a large piece of potato can give you 258 calories which is, technically, against our rule of including only low calorie foods to achieve weight loss. But there’s actually a different reason why potatoes are effective in losing weight. They’re one of the most effective tummy fillers. Studies show that when compared to other foods using the Satiety Index, potatoes are the king of the hill. The Satiety Index is a system of measurement whereby different foods are graded according to how fulfilling they are. This means that the higher the Satiety Index score, the more satiating it is. And you know what this means, right? It means you’ll not really going to eat any time soon. If in case you’ll eat, you’ll consume less because you’re still technically full. To reap the full benefits of boiled potatoes, you’ll have to let them cool down first before devouring as the cooling down process aids in the development of resistant starch. This is what’s going to help you feel fuller.
Legumes and Beans
Lentils, kidney beans, and black beans as well as other beans and legumes are packed with protein. A cup of lentils can have as much as 17.9 grams of protein while black beans can have around 15.2 grams. However, these foods are naturally high in calories so a lot of people don’t eat them. Like potatoes, the calories contained in beans and legumes are primarily composed of resistant starch. This gives it a really superb satiating effect. So, you get all the energy you need in just a cup of these foods and you already have more than half the protein content of lean meats. That is why in countries with protein energy malnutrition, legumes and beans are a more economical alternatives to meats.
Dairy products are rich in calcium, a mineral that has been observed to play a role in improving the efficiency of fat burning processes in the body. On a per calorie basis, cottage cheese has the most amounts of protein than any other types of dairy products. Four ounces of cottage cheese packs 14 grams of protein and only 1.2 grams of fat. It only packs 81 calories, too. Its carbohydrate content is not bad, either, which is at 3.1 grams. It is this combination of low calorie, low fat, low carbohydrate, and high protein composition of cottage cheese that make it an ideal diet food. For example, it’s highly recommended in the Military Diet. Take note that these nutrient contents are for the low fat version of cottage cheese. The non-low fat version will have a slightly higher fat content. Nonetheless, its protein is still very high.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Studies show that including apple cider vinegar in a high carbohydrate meal can significantly reduce the amount of calories consumed for the remainder of the day by as much as 250 to 275 calories. Another study showed that consuming about 15 to 30 mL of ACV daily can lead to an average weight loss of 1.2 to 1.7 kilograms after 12 weeks. The reason is ACV’s role in reducing sudden increases in blood sugar that usually results after meals.
This is the only food that can rightfully be called a natural fat burner because of its capsaicin. In fact, there have been numerous studies showing the effectiveness of chili peppers in increasing fatty acid oxidation and in reducing appetite. Unfortunately, studies also show that people do get to develop tolerance as people who are already accustomed to the spicy food generally show no significant improvements in their weights. So, if you’re not really regularly eating peppers, then this one is for you.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of foods that can help us lose weight. The important thing to remember is to go for low calories, low carbohydrates, and absolutely high in proteins. It’s perfectly alright to chow on high calorie food as long as you also have a high protein content