The modern health culture is becoming more intently focused on what goes into our bodies in terms of both quantity and quality. This is a positive change that will hopefully stand the test of diet-time. The foundation of this new healthy eating focus is primarily concerned with body image, but the benefits of consuming a healthy and balanced diet go beyond a smaller waist and larger muscles. By eating specific foods and amounts you can achieve your weight loss goals and be healthy internally as well.
All calories are created equal, which seems to be a difficult concept to grasp in the diet industry. Prior to the current focus on healthy eating, the dieter would be overly consumed with the number of calories they were eating rather than the types. This is a common mistake when it comes to losing weight. Quality and quantity are both important and should get equal amounts of attention.
This information beckons the question; why is quality just as, if not more, important than quantity? Food goes through a series of metabolic processes where it is broken down and absorbed by the body. Each type of food takes different pathways making them have specific and unique impacts on weight and health.
One food type may increase hunger while another can lead to a reduced appetite. The body uses some food types more efficiently as fuel which means they are not as likely to be stored as fat.
Top 10 Foods that Encourage Weight Loss
Fish makes the top of the list for several reasons. It is multifaceted in its approach to assisting with weight loss goals. Most fish types, especially freshwater salmon, are loaded with healthy fats which increase a person’s feelings of fullness. This will keep the dieter’s metabolism running full speed and prevent overeating or snacking. The protein content of fish also plays a role in keeping you fuller longer.
Snacking and overeating on unhealthy foods lead to weight gain and other health complications. By replacing high-calorie foods with fresh, lean fish you are more likely to be fuller more quickly and remain that way longer.
The essential fatty acid content of fish, Omega-3, and Omega-6 have an anti-inflammatory reaction in the body. Chronic inflammation is a common issue in today’s society as a result of highly processed foods. When inflammation is present and persistent poor health ensues.
Chronic inflammation can also add to the number that is seen on the scale. By choosing to eat fish as your source of animal protein you are replacing unhealthy and high-calorie protein foods with healthy protein-rich and lean meat.
These two factors, increasing satiety and anti-inflammatory effect, combined make consuming fish at least twice a week very beneficial to your overall health. Making this switch can be done slowly and a little research on healthy and tasty recipes can make it a pleasant change.
This category of foods may be easily confused with the popular green shakes and powders that are commonly consumed for diet and weight loss. This form of the word refers to green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale, cabbage, bok choy, and even broccoli to name a few. They may also be referred to as “cruciferous vegetables.”
Greens work in the weight loss process in much the same way as fish, by replacing higher fat and calorie dense foods. By making some simple exchanges, like broccoli rather than macaroni or steamed cabbage over fries, you will quickly begin to see a slimmer waistline.
Additional weight loss benefits of adding greens to your diet is their high nutrient density and low-calorie characteristics. A nutrient dense food is one with high levels of vitamins and minerals (nutrients) which make them very beneficial for overall health and weight.
Calorie dense foods, on their hand, provide more calories than nutrients making them efficient at causing weight gain. Greens are low calorie and high nutrient, the ideal combination for any dieter.
Eggs have experienced a love-hate relationship from the health eggs over the years, but this jaded past is not slowing them down as they make their way to the top of the health food list. This affordable animal product aids in weight loss due to its proteins. Eggs are extremely versatile and can be easily eaten in a variety of ways and for just about any meal or snack time.
Along with their protein content, eggs also contain the healthy fats we have talked about previously which both increase fullness and prevent overeating. Again, by feeling full and satisfied it is easy to reach your weight loss goals along with preventing other ailments.
Lean Beef and Chicken
This category may be yet another animal product, but their protein content makes them ideal for weight loss. By simply switching out high-fat meats for leaner options you are helping your waistline as well as your organs and arteries to prevent stress and blockages. Protein, especially lean protein, will keep the dieter fuller longer.
Some beef and boneless chicken are quite lean along with being full of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to overall health. Making the switch to lean meats is not difficult by experimenting with fun recipes.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are a classification of food with health benefits that don’t get enough credit for their health benefits and are often overlooked. These foods are, once again, high in protein and full of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
The versatility of these foods makes it easy to be added to just about any meal or recipe. While other foods on the list have been primarily animal sources, beans and legumes are ideal for vegetarians and vegan dieters wishing to lose weight.
Fiber also leads to feelings of satiety which prevents overeating. Beans and legumes have excellent fiber content that leads to their overall health and weight benefits.
Beans and legumes should be added to any diet, but especially those that are wanting to
lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle. By adding these to your regular diet you will reduce your fat and high-calorie intake, they will keep you fuller longer, and they are highly affordable and as well as delicious.
The avocado has made a strong leap forward in the health food industry. What was once just thought of as the main ingredient in guacamole is now standing alone as a healthy, weight loss generating food.
Yet again, the high healthy fat content of avocados leads to their impressive weight effects. As a fruit, the avocado is unique in its nutrient content. Most fruits are carbohydrate-rich, but avocado is rich in fats.
The avocado provides the dieter with vitamins and minerals such. Other important characteristics that aid in avocado’s weight loss benefits are their fiber and water content.
The type of fat contained within avocados works in the body to increase antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory and help to prevent the chronic and acute disease from free radical damage in the body.
While it is well known that fruits are a great addition to any healthy diet, there are certain fruits in particular that work to speed up weight loss and help to prevent future weight gain. The fiber content along with their phytochemicals makes fruits a top food for weight loss.
While fruits are high in natural sugar, carbohydrates, it is a low energy density sugar and many actually cause the body to burn more calories during digestion because of their rough texture.
Grapefruit may be king of the weight loss fruits. This fruit has been studied extensively and directly in regard to its health benefits and weight loss impact specifically. One study followed 91 obese patients for 12 weeks. The participants were required to eat half a grapefruit before each meal and this process resulted in a 3.5-pound weight loss. It is thought that the mechanism of action is the feeling of fullness from the grapefruit making you less likely to overeat.
This category of foods brings a lot to the table, pun intended. Once again fiber and protein are the primary factors that make whole grains beneficial in weight loss. From the feelings of fullness that they produce to the increased regularity of bowel movements, whole grains are an ideal weight-loss food.
Common whole grain foods include cereals, oats, quinoa, and brown rice. When it comes to selecting grains, it is important to remember that refined starches do not have the same nutrient content or weight loss benefits. They have been refined and have had many valuable nutrients removed. These lesser quality starches can also have an inflammatory effect on the body, making them more likely to cause weight gain.
When looking for a whole-grain product check the nutrition label, not just the product label. Many products, especially bread, will market that they are whole grain, but when you inspect the nutrition label if the first word listed is “enriched” whole grain then it is not a true whole grain product.
It is undeniable that nuts are a quick, delicious, and healthy snack. Their protein content keeps the dieter feeling full for longer making them less likely to overeat or snack on unhealthy food options. The fat content consists of healthy fats and are well balanced with protein and fiber.
Studies are showing that a person’s metabolism and weight can be positively impacted by adding nuts as a regular part of your diet. There is a wide variety of nuts and not all are created equal. The top five nuts for weight loss include almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, walnuts, and pistachios. This is an appetizing list of nuts that could easily be placed in a trail mix recipe.
Another versatile food for the list. Yogurt can be consumed in a wide variety of ways and many of the other foods on the list can be added as topping and mix-ins giving it even more weight loss power. It can be eaten year-round for just about any meal or as a snack. This food is unique in its weight loss encouraging capabilities due to the presence of active cultures.
The active cultures, also known as probiotics, in yogurt, increase your gut health. When the gut is healthy it is more able to efficiently process foods and burn calories. A healthy gut will lead to reduced inflammation, which we know adds to weight gain, and leptin resistance, which is a hormone that increases obesity.
When selecting yogurt, it is important to read the nutrition label. Look for low sugar content, less than 7 grams per serving, and check that it has active cultures. Full fat yogurt is ironically proving to be more beneficial for weight loss than low-fat varieties.
Why Lose Weight?
By this point, you are either convinced and changing your diet habits now, or you are thinking to yourself, why should I lose weight? The body was not made to carry high amounts of weight for longer periods of time. As the body is forced to carry fat and weight chronic diseases are more likely to develop along with acute illnesses.
Conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer just to name a few, will substantially reduce a person’s quality of life. When you decide to make the change and begin eating a healthy diet you will soon find that it is easier than is commonly thought. When combined with regular exercise implementing these foods into the diet will have you reaching your weight loss goal in no time!
Beginning a healthy diet and lifestyle can be intimidating and it is easy to make excuses as to why it just isn’t the right time. Whether your excuse is tasteless food, expensive price tags on healthy foods or you just don’t have the time this list of foods is sure to have something that fits your lifestyle. Don’t believe the lie that healthy foods are time-consuming, not satisfying, or expensive. Give these foods a chance today!
Trista Best is a Registered Dietitian and Content Writer. She has been writing in the areas of health, wellness, and nutrition for over three years and enjoys the opportunity it provides for creative outlet. Trista graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees, one from the University of Alabama in Dietetics, and a Master’s Degree in Public Health Nutrition. When she is not writing or working in the Paediatric Nutrition office she enjoys being active with her family, husband Brett and daughter Emma Grace.