If your goal is to get rid of a few pounds before summer arrives or the holiday season starts, we’re about to give you 15 foods that can help. Tasty and nutritious, their positive effect on health is backed by actual scientific research! Discover which sorts of citrus fruits you should be eating, find out what type of protein will allow you to get fewer calories during your next meal, and learn all about snack portion control. Let’s get started.
1. Plain Greek yogurt
If you have ever tasted Greek yogurt, you know that it is thick, creamy, and rich. Plain Greek yogurt also has excellent protein-to-calorie ratio – better than most foods. One cup of non-fat, plain Greek yogurt has approximately 23 grams of protein and contains only 130 calories. That’s the equivalent of 4 eggs. Researchers at Tufts University learned that women consuming 3 or more yogurt servings per week had smaller waists and were less likely to gain weight, compared to women eating only 1 serving of yogurt per week.
2. Pears & apples
Several studies have shown that eating unpeeled pears and apples can help you lose pounds. One study investigated how eating fruit had an effect on changing body weight. Half of the group ate 3 apples/pears every day, plus their regular meals. The other half of the group ate oats 3 times per day, plus their regular meals. At the end of the 12th week, the apple/pear group had lost more weight than the oats group, on average nearly 3 pounds each. Why? Well, both pears and apples are high in fiber and low in calories. You stay full for a longer period of time because pectin is the primary fiber in pears and apples, so it forms into a gel in the stomach that helps to curb your appetite.
Did you know that sunchokes are filled with cancer-fighting phytochemicals? In particular, sunchokes contain oligofructose, which is a type of soluble fiber that’s associated with weight loss. During a scientific study at the University of Calgary, oligofructose concentrate was given to overweight adults. One group was put on a simple low-calorie diet, and the other was given a sunchoke concentrate. Individuals in the second group reported feeling less hungry and lost more weight, in comparison to the other group. The study concluded that supplementation with oligofructose can potentially improve glucose regulation in overweight adults and promote weight loss. Think about adding steamed sunchoke to your meal.
Berries are great to fill you up and keep calories to a minimum – one cup of fresh berries is just about 50-60 calories. On top of that, they are packed with ketones – aromatic compounds that give berries their pleasant smell. These same ketones help increase the expression of adiponectin, which is a protein hormone stabilizing blood sugar levels and aiding in burning fat. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that adiponectin helps spike metabolism and suppresses appetite in mice.
Did you know that beans have 12.5 grams of fiber per cup as well as disease-fighting antioxidants? And now it has also been proven that beans can impressively affect your weight loss. One study found a bean-rich diet that’s high in fiber to be as effective as a low-carbohydrate diet. Individuals that followed it had better LDL and cholesterol levels, compared to those on a low-carb diet. When beans diet was paired with a low-calorie one, those individuals who ate 4 servings of legumes every week (lentils, chickpeas, beans, peas, etc.) were able to achieve greater weight loss and improvement in some lipid panels.
Oatmeal is proven to have the highest satiety (an objective score to determine the ability of a specific food to keep hunger at bay), when compared to other breakfast options. What’s more, Louisiana State University’s research found out that a breakfast of proper oatmeal was more satiating that ready-to-eat boxed cereal. The study concluded that the processing, which occurs when oats are being used to make boxed cereal, decreases their beneficial effect.
Eggs are full of high-quality protein and low in calories (containing approximately 70). A study by the University of Surrey researched the effect that various breakfasts, including cereal with milk, toast, and eggs, had on 30 healthy men. It discovered that those men who ate eggs for breakfast had a lower calorie intake, compared to those who had a breakfast of cereal and milk. Another study took a look at having an egg breakfast versus a bagel one. It found that those who ate the eggs felt more satisfied, and therefore had a smaller next meal.
According to another study, individuals who eat fish for lunch actually consume 11% fewer calories during their next dinner, compared to those who eat the same amount of protein but in the form of beef. Subjects who ate cod 5 times per week lost considerably more weight than those who did not eat any fish but consumed the same amount of calories. The most sustainable choices among seafood include wild Alaskan salmon, trout, and aforementioned cod.
Two behavioral nutrition studies by Eastern Illinois University experimented with the theory that you can fool yourself into feeling full just by watching what you eat. One experiment involved students who ate 41% fewer calories (shell pistachios) than the other test group (pre-shelled pistachios), yet both reported being equally satiated.
The second experiment looked at how empty pistachio shells can help curb calories by acting as a visual cue of how many had already been eaten. Students who left pistachio shells behind on their desk actually reduced their calorie consumption by 18%, compared to those who routinely removed their discarded shells throughout the day.
You may have already heard of the grapefruit diet. After all, it dates back to the 1930s. The diet calls for either eating a half of grapefruit or drinking 4 ounces of 100% grapefruit juice prior to every meal. During a study, 85 obese men and women were provided with either a serving of grapefruit, glass of grapefruit juice, or water 20 minutes prior to eating a meal. As a result, the participants reduced their daily calorie consumption by as much as 29%. During the 12-week trial, the subjects lost 15 pounds and were able to significantly reduce their belly fat. The study suggests consuming water or grapefruit/grapefruit juice prior to eating meals helps you stick with a low-calorie eating plan.
11. Olive oil
German Research Center for Food Chemistry found that just smelling olive oil can help decrease calorie intake. Researchers looked at the effects of 4 different fats: butter, canola, lard, and olive oil. Yogurts enriched with these fats were given to the test subjects. As a result, the individuals who consumed the olive oil yogurt had the biggest increase in blood levels of serotonin (a hormone associated with feeling full). In addition, their normal caloric intake also decreased to compensate for the daily yogurt meals. It is thought that the two aromatic compounds in olive oil are responsible for the weight loss effect. Hexanal (one of these compounds) resembles the scent of freshly cut grass.
12. Broth-based soup
If you don’t feel like eating salad but want to start your meal with a low-calorie appetizer, opt for a broth-based soup. It is low-calorie and high-fiber and helps lose weight. Studies show that having a bowl of soup just 15 minutes before a meal can reduce your calorie intake by 20%.
13. Hot peppers
According to a study, adding red pepper to your meals will result in eating less. Capsaicin is the compound that gives the heat to red chili peppers, reducing person’s hunger while boosting metabolism. Subjects who did not consume spicy foods regularly experienced the most appetite-suppressing effects. However, simply taking a capsule with capsaicin will not give you the metabolism boost. You need to experience the burning in your mouth to get the benefits. It raises the temperature of your body, increasing energy expenditure and controlling appetite.
14. Salad greens
Eating your veggies is a good way to lose weight, but what you may not know is why eating salad greens is such an effective weight loss tool. Salad contains a high volume of water-and-fiber combo so you feel fuller with fewer calories. This is called low-energy density. A single cup of salad greens contains less than 20 calories, making lettuce one of the healthiest calorie food choices. Studies have proven that if you have salad as an appetizer, it will help eat fewer calories during the meal.
Not only is tea calorie-free, it’s rich in flavonoids – antioxidants that are excellent for heart health. Research also indicates that tea flavonoids can elevate metabolic rate, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase fat oxidation. Several researchers found a correlation between hot tea consumption and lower BMI, as well as lower mean waist circumference in tea drinkers. Tea flavonoids can help increase fat oxidation, improve insulin sensitivity, and elevate metabolic rate.
If you are looking for more ways to make your food healthier, check out our compilation of kitchen tricks and tips! And as always, stay tuned for future posts to keep you fitness in check!