The Final Verdict On The Best Foods for Weight Loss, Say Dietitians — Eat This Not That
For many people, the pursuit of weight loss feels like a never-ending goal. Seeing the number on the scale go up or struggling to button your jeans can have you eagerly seeking out the latest crash diet to help get you back into fighting form in a hurry.
However, if you want to lose those extra pounds and keep them off in the long run, unsustainable fad diets aren’t the way to go. With the help of registered dietitians, we’ve rounded up the very best foods for weight loss—no crash diets needed. And for more great ways to shed the pounds, check out these 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away—and it can help keep the extra pounds away, too.
“Apples are a good source of fiber (a medium apple has about 5 grams), helping slow down digestion, enhancing satiety, controlling appetite, and reducing overall energy intake,” says Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, clinical dietitian at the Cotton O’Neil Endocrinology and Diabetes Clinic and author of The Nourished Brain.
“Apples also have the added benefit of a natural plant compound called ursolic acid that increases fat-burning. Other compounds found in apples are also good for those trillions of bacteria living in our guts, improving our gut microflora. That means we have better digestion and better excretion of fats,” add Mussatto.
If you want to lose a few pounds without going hungry, try incorporating some citrus fruit into your daily meal plan.
“Oranges and grapefruit not only are low calorie and a good source of fiber (60 calories and 3 grams of fiber in oranges and 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber in grapefruit), but studies have also shown they contain flavonoids that favor weight loss and may reduce risk of chronic disease like type 2 diabetes by preventing metabolic syndrome,” says Mussatto, citing 2009 research conducted by researchers at the University of Western Ontario.
Inexpensive, versatile, and delicious, oatmeal is a great choice if you want to lose weight and keep it off.
“Oats are a great source of soluble fiber, which slows digestion and promotes the feeling of fullness both during and after a meal,” says Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS, RD, founder of Hispanic Communications and a member of the Grain Foods Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“In fact, oatmeal has been scientifically-proven to help you feel full between meals, and one study found that oatmeal for breakfast may lead you to consume a lower-calorie lunch by promoting satiety. In addition, whole grain and cereal fiber intake have been found to be associated with lower total percent body fat and lower abdomen fat mass.”
Whether you’re using them as a protein-rich replacement for meat in your favorite dish or adding them to a salad, beans are a great way to stay full for longer while slimming down.
“As long as they have little to no added sugar, canned beans or cooked beans are a great choice to support weight loss,” says Melendez-Klinger.
“Research on beans has proven that you not only get filling high-quality protein, iron, fiber, and many important vitamins and minerals, but they’ve also been linked to living longer. The Blue Zones study demonstrated that centenarians ate about a half-cup of beans regularly, which played a significant role in their longevity and overall health, which included a weight within range,” she adds.
If you’re looking for an easy way to stay full without loading up on calories, Melendez-Klinger recommends adding some soy to your meals.
“These legumes may aid in weight management because they are a low-fat plant-based protein that can be used at any meal and as a snack—for example, using textured vegetable protein in place of high-calorie, high-fat ground beef in meatloaf, soy flour in baked goods, or tofu in place of cheese in a dish such as lasagna. In fact, research shows that when combined with a healthy lifestyle soy can help with losing weight as well as weight maintenance,” says Melendez-Klinger, citing a review of research published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences.
Whether you’re ricing it, baking it, or pureeing it into a soup, cauliflower is a great choice for anyone trying to lose weight.
“Cauliflower is a good food for weight loss. The fiber content helps to maintain a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Fiber slows stomach emptying. It passes through the digestive tract undigested and provides very little in the way of calories to the body,” explains Jinan Banna, PhD, RD, a registered dietitian and associate professor of nutrition at the University of Hawaii.
An easy and delicious addition to salads, sandwiches, or even pasta dishes, tuna is a great addition to any weight loss diet.
“Tuna is a great source of lean protein. It is very low in fat but very high in protein, keeping you full and satisfied. Tuna also contains many minerals, including zinc and choline,” says Kristen Carli, MS, RD, owner of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness and writer for Fit Healthy Momma.
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