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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow 38 of the Best Weight Loss Foods to Keep Cravings at Bay

38 of the Best Weight Loss Foods to Keep Cravings at Bay

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: September 21, 2023
16 min read 755 Views 0 Comments
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Nourish your body and achieve your fitness goals with these delicious foods.

38 of the Best Weight Loss Foods to Keep Cravings at Bay

The formula for losing weight is seemingly simple: you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. For many people, this means cutting out treats, consuming less sugary snacks, and lowering their calorie intake.

Although this approach can work, long-term calorie restriction can put your health at risk, leading to nutrient deficiencies, muscle breakdown, and a slower metabolic rate, which can stop your weight loss progress altogether.

Rather than taking your favorite treats away, a better approach is to therefore focus on feeding your body with a range of low-calorie, healthy foods. 

Keep reading to find out which foods you should be adding to your weight loss diet. 

Understanding Weight Loss Foods

Weight loss foods are those that are unprocessed, whole, and high-quality. Many are naturally low in calories, high in protein, and low in unhealthy saturated fats, yet contain a good amount of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. They boost your metabolism to help you burn more fat and control your hunger cues for longer.

Certain foods affect our body’s hunger hormones in different ways. For instance, eating protein-rich foods decreases the body’s production of ghrelin, the hormone that signals to the brain that you’re hungry. This means that you’ll stay fuller for longer and are less likely to overeat.

Similarly, consuming foods containing high levels of fiber helps your blood sugar levels to rise gradually, causing the fat-storage hormone insulin to be released more slowly. Along with making it easier to shift stubborn fat, this also means you’ll naturally consume fewer calories, lowering your overall caloric intake.

To lose weight, it’s important to be in a caloric deficit, burning more calories than you consume. Choosing low-calorie, high-fiber, high-protein foods is ideal for weight loss because you can eat more of them than high-calorie, processed foods. This makes your weight loss efforts much easier.

Best Weight Loss Foods: 38 Items You Should Focus On

When you’re at the grocery store, it’s easy to become distracted by the variety of sweet treats and salty snacks on offer. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, then aim to fill the majority of your cart with these foods:

Fruits:

Best Weight Loss Foods - Fruits
Health Reporter edit

#1 Berries

High in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are all great low-calorie foods with several health benefits. Research indicates that those who consume enough vitamin C are able to oxidize 30% more fat during exercise than those with lower levels of this vitamin.

#2 Apples

Along with being high in heart-healthy fiber, apples also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to leave you feeling physically and mentally healthy. This will keep you in the right mind space for continuing on your weight loss journey. 

#3 Oranges

Citrus fruits like oranges not only provide that delicious sharp yet sweet taste but are also high in fiber and vitamin C. As well as boosting fat loss, studies show that they may also reduce the amount of cortisol in the body, a stress hormone that contributes to weight gain.

#4 Grapefruits

What’s unique about grapefruit is that it’s made up of 90% water, which makes it very low in calories. Naringin, a compound found within this fruit, may also help to control blood sugar levels and promote healthy weight loss.

#5 Avocados

Containing large amounts of fiber and water, avocados are one of the most filling fruits you can consume if weight management is your priority. They are also rich in healthy fats, which help keep your cardiovascular system working smoothly. However, they are an energy-dense fruit, so try to eat avocados in moderation to ensure you don’t go over your calorie goal. 

Vegetables:

Best Weight Loss Foods - Vegetables
Health Reporter edit

#6 Leafy greens 

Spinach, kale, cabbage, and Swiss chard are all leafy greens that contain thylakoids. These plant compounds may increase feelings of fullness and decrease appetite, though more research is needed to confirm this effect.

#7 Cruciferous vegetables 

Although, like other vegetables, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are high in fiber, their high protein content is what makes them stand out as foods for healthy weight loss. This is because these dark green leafy vegetables help to keep you satisfied for longer.

#8 Bell peppers

Packed full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, bell peppers are a low-calorie vegetable that can help to keep you in that essential calorie deficit. Like many other vegetables, they’re also a great source of fiber. 

#9 Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a major source of lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, and cancer. They are also low in calories, high in fiber, and have a low glycemic index, which reduces the spike in your blood sugar levels and keeps your energy up.

#10 Cucumbers

With a high water content and being very low in calories, cucumbers are one of the best foods to eat for effective weight management. Studies show that cucumbers may prevent oxidative stress in the body, which is a trigger for fat gain and diseases such as diabetes.

#11 Olives

Olives are a popular vegetable in the Mediterranean diet, as they’re rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which have positive effects on body weight and composition. Although they have a notably low-calorie density, olives also have a high overall fat and salt content. So, the calorie count can add up quickly if you don’t monitor portion sizes.

Lean proteins:

Best Weight Loss Foods - Lean proteins
Health Reporter edit

#12 Chicken breast

Skinless chicken breast is a low-calorie, lean source of protein that has much lower levels of saturated fat than other types of meat. This makes it a great choice to include in your meals over red and processed meats. 

#13 Turkey breast

Turkey breast is one of the best meat options for weight loss, as it is known for being incredibly low in fat and calories. It also contains plenty of protein, making it ideal for those looking to maintain or build muscle mass while on a lower-calorie, healthy diet. 

#14 Fish and seafood

Fish such as tuna, tilapia, and salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent obesity by increasing the rate at which food is converted to energy. Along with cod and seafood like shrimp, they are rich in proteins that keep you full and help to improve your muscle-to-body-fat ratio. 

Shrimp also stimulates the production of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which decreases your appetite by sending signals to the stomach that you’re satisfied.

#15 Low-fat or non-fat dairy products

Low-fat dairy products such as cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are high in both protein and calcium. There are some studies that suggest there may be a link between calcium intake and body weight, but more research is needed.

#16 Eggs

Eggs are a great option to have for breakfast as they’re high in protein and healthy fats, which studies suggest may keep you fuller for longer compared to eating cereal, milk, and orange juice in the morning. Their yolks also contain high levels of essential nutrients like choline, which is responsible for preventing cholesterol buildup in the liver. 

Whole grains:

Best Weight Loss Foods - Whole grains
Health Reporter edit

#17 Quinoa

Quinoa is a grain loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that help to maintain your energy levels while keeping your cardiovascular, immune, and digestive systems healthy. What makes quinoa different from other grains is that it is high in protein, which requires your body to burn extra calories to digest it.

#18 Brown rice

Brown rice is ideal for healthy weight loss as it is high in fiber while having a low glycemic index. Unlike other types of rice, this complete carbohydrate won’t spike your blood glucose, helping to maintain your energy levels and feelings of fullness after eating.

#19 Oats

Oats contain resistant starch, which releases byproducts that increase your cells’ responsiveness to insulin. This helps to reduce stubborn body fat. Avoid adding too much sugar to your oatmeal, which increases the number of calories in the dish. Instead, try including high-protein, healthy fats such as almond butter or plain yogurt to keep you satisfied for longer.

#20 Barley

Barley’s weight loss properties are thanks to a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which forms a gel-like substance in the gut. This slows the absorption and digestion of vital nutrients from food, which reduces your appetite. Research shows that soluble fibers are the most effective type for lowering overall food intake.

#21 Whole-wheat bread or pasta

Bread and pasta made from whole grains raise blood sugar levels slowly. They are great options for healthy weight loss, as this prevents excess fat storage around your midsection. 

Be sure to eat these foods in moderation, as although they are lower in calories than refined options, their high carbohydrate content will begin to be stored as body fat if consumed in excess.

Healthy fats:

Best Weight Loss Foods - Healthy fats
Health Reporter edit

#22 Nuts 

Nuts contain high levels of fat, which means you should be mindful of portion sizes when grabbing them as a snack. However, these fats are the heart-healthy unsaturated type, which, along with the protein and fiber content of nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachios, may improve your metabolic health and promote weight loss. 

#23 Seeds 

Chia seeds and flaxseeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber, both of which contribute to good digestion, heart health, and weight loss, thanks to their appetite-suppressing properties. 

A 2017 study found that those who ate chia seeds with yogurt as a midmorning snack felt fuller and therefore ate less at lunchtime. This is because they expand in your stomach, which makes them a natural appetite suppressant. 

#24 Olive oil

Replacing sources of saturated fat with the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil can cause significant weight loss, even without making a major change to your total fat or calorie intake. Olive oil also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which trigger the release of appetite-regulating hormones like peptide YY.

#25 Coconut oil 

Coconut oil is another healthy fat source that may be effective for weight loss, as it also contains MCTs. Research indicates that adding this oil and other high-fat foods to your meals in moderation can also increase stomach volume, helping you to feel fuller than eating only low-fat foods.

Fiber in the Weight Loss Process

Eating a diet that is full of fiber boosts weight loss as the nutrient is digested slowly. This slows the emptying of your stomach, which results in a prolonged feeling of fullness and a reduced appetite.

Fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut, which has been linked with a lower obesity risk. It also reduces chronic inflammation, a condition that may lead to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and weight gain.

One of the best sources of fiber is legumes, a variety of plants that produce a pod with seeds inside. They are also known for being high in protein, which is essential for preserving lean muscle mass without piling on the pounds, supporting your metabolism, and contributing to a feeling of fullness.

Legumes:

Fiber in the Weight Loss Process - Legumes
Health Reporter edit

#26 Lentils

Lentils are a high protein, high fiber, low-fat legume that fills you up without adding extra calories to your meals. They are, therefore, often used as a lower-fat, heart-healthy alternative in dishes that typically contain ground meat by those looking to lose weight.

#27 Chickpeas

Chickpeas provide an impressive number of nutrients per calorie, which is essential when you’re limiting your calorie intake for weight loss. Like other legumes, they’re loaded with fiber to keep you full and also have a low glycemic index for slow digestion. Studies show that those who consume chickpeas regularly are 53% less likely to be obese.

#28 Black beans

Black beans are well known for being high in dietary fiber, which acts as a bulking agent in the digestive system to remove more fat from your body as waste. The plant-based protein also contributes to lower body fat and waist circumference, keeps your gut healthy, and maintains blood sugar levels. These are all factors that influence your weight.

#29 Kidney beans

Kidney beans are similar to black beans in terms of their high fiber and protein content, which helps to promote satiety. Compared to other starchy carbs, kidney beans contain large amounts of starch amylose, which isn’t digestible. 

This makes the beans a slow-release carbohydrate, meaning that they maintain your energy levels and keep you full throughout the day.

Metabolism-Boosting Foods

Metabolism-boosting foods are those that increase your metabolic rate – the number of calories burnt by your body. This can help you lose weight in the long term, particularly when partnered with a healthy, calorie-restricted diet. 

These foods tend to have a pungent smell and taste and so are added to meals as a flavor enhancer. Some of the most popular metabolism-boosting foods are:

Metabolism-Boosting Foods
Health Reporter edit

#30 Ginger

Ginger is a strong spice containing compounds called shogaols and zingerone, which research shows may aid the bodily processes that promote fat burning

Like many other foods that help with weight loss, it also acts as an appetite suppressant and has thermogenic effects, according to a 2013 study. Thermogenic foods are those that generate heat, helping the body to burn more calories.

#31 Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been shown to regulate blood sugar for those with type 2 diabetes, a condition associated with obesity. Stable blood sugar levels help to maintain your energy and prevent food cravings. The spice also increases the body’s sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which helps to reduce fat storage and sugar cravings.

#32 Apple cider vinegar

The high levels of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar are thought to be responsible for its weight loss health benefits. A study into acetic acid found that consuming it daily may reduce body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels, all of which are linked to obesity.

#33 Celery

Raw celery is considered to be a negative calorie food, meaning that the body burns more calories digesting it than the plant contains. It is also incredibly high in fiber to keep you full and contains vitamins C and K, along with folate and potassium, to prevent you from developing nutrient deficiencies during your weight loss journey.

#34 Turmeric

Known as the golden spice, turmeric contains curcumin, an active compound that suppresses inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to a variety of diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. A study also found that consuming curcumin helped patients with metabolic syndrome to lose weight. 

#35 Cayenne pepper

Cayenne and other hot peppers, such as chilis, contain capsaicin, an active compound that makes them spicy. Capsaicin may help your body to metabolize fat and feel full more quickly, which are both key factors for weight loss.

#36 Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is a herb packed full of metabolism-boosting antioxidants while also preventing stress-related weight gain by balancing cortisol levels. Its antibacterial properties fight inflammation, strengthening the immune system to ensure you have the energy and motivation to exercise regularly.

#37 Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is a green pigment that comes in liquid or supplement form and is known for its ability to suppress your appetite. It also contains nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, and K that may boost your metabolism, which can help you lose weight while reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol.

#38 Sea moss

Along with being low-calorie, sea moss is rich in thick carrageenan fiber that prevents you from overeating. It also contains minerals such as iodine, which help thyroid hormones control your body’s metabolic rate.

Meal Planning for Weight Loss: 5 Practical Tips

If you’ve got a busy schedule, it can be tempting to turn to takeout and convenience foods on a weekly basis. However, this is detrimental to your weight loss efforts, leaving you feeling tired, sluggish, and unmotivated. 

Meal planning is a great way to combat this, as it makes it easier for you to stick to eating in a calorie deficit, which is essential for weight loss. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming, so here are 5 tips to help you reach your weight loss goals:

#1 Plan your meals in advance

Planning your meals at the start of the week takes the effort out of deciding what you’re going to eat at the end of a long, busy day. This means that you’re more likely to make healthy choices rather than grabbing something out of convenience. Plus, you’ll have much less food waste if you know exactly which ingredients you need from the grocery store.

#2 Try to consume more nutrient-dense foods

The key principle of weight loss is to eat fewer calories than you burn, which means that you can technically eat any type of food. However, eating nutrient-dense foods ensures that you remain healthy, energized, and full while consuming fewer calories, meaning sticking to a calorie deficit will be much easier.

Try to include foods in your meal plan that are rich in fiber and protein to reduce cravings and keep you satisfied with smaller portions. You should also eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements. 

#3 Pay attention to portion sizes

Although foods such as avocados, whole wheat bread, and coconut oil are full of important nutrients for weight loss, they are calorie-dense, so eating large portions will take you over your calorie goal.

Instead, pack your plate with low-calorie veggies, fruits, and lean proteins, which are rich in fiber, low-calorie, and so can be eaten in bigger portions. 

#4 Choose healthy snacks

For some people, adding snacks to their meal plan is unnecessary and will take them over their calorie budget. However, for others, letting themselves get too hungry between meals will simply cause them to overeat at the next meal. 

So, try selecting low-calorie, nutrient-rich snacks such as carrot or celery sticks and hummus, a handful of nuts, or Greek yogurt to keep you satisfied.

#5 Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating is a concept that ensures you’re paying full attention to your food, cravings, and physical cues when eating. This helps those who struggle to recognize when they’re full, which usually results in overeating.

Practice eating mindfully by consuming your meals without distraction from a television or other device. Chew each mouthful slowly, taking notice of the flavors, textures, and smells of your food, and you’re more likely to recognize when you’re beginning to get full.

FAQs

Can specific foods actually help with weight loss?

Foods that are high in fiber, like whole grains, legumes, and seeds, and those that are low in calories, such as fruits and vegetables, help with weight loss as they keep you fuller for longer. High-protein foods such as lean meats, fish, and dairy products are also helpful.

Do weight loss foods need to be bland?

No, spicy or flavorsome foods such as chili and cayenne pepper actually have thermogenic properties, meaning that they boost your metabolism to help you burn more fat.

Can I eat fruits when I’m trying to lose weight?

Fruits can contribute to weight loss as they are low calorie, high fiber, and help you to feel satisfied in between meals. Some fruits, such as watermelon, contain next to no calories, whereas fruits like avocados are more energy dense, so you should be mindful of portion sizes when included in your meals.

A Word From a Nutritionist 

Expert image border HR_author_photo_Edibel
Edibel Quintero, RD
Medical advisor for Health Reporter

If you’re hoping to lose weight, then ultimately, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This means that you should be burning more calories than you’re consuming. Foods that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats are the best foods for weight loss, along with those that pack in plenty of nutrients to keep you healthy.

To ensure you’re consuming a balanced diet, try using the plate method at meal times. Reserve half of your plate for fruits or vegetables and a quarter each for lean proteins and high-fiber, unrefined carbohydrates. Enhance the flavor of your food with unsaturated fats like olive oil, avocado, and nuts.

Before making any changes to your diet, consult a healthcare professional. They can provide you with advice on how to lose weight sustainably while maintaining optimal health.

Conclusion

The best weight loss foods are those packed full of nutrients, fiber, and protein, while excluding saturated fat, added sugars, and refined carbs.

Create a weekly meal plan that involves a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources, with small amounts of healthy fats, to keep your body functioning optimally while on a calorie-controlled diet.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: September 21, 2023
16 min read 755 Views 0 Comments
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