By Cassandra Talmadge
When it comes to weight loss, the foods you choose to put into your mouth are 80 percent responsible. And if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.”
Weight loss equals calories consumed minus calories expended. Scientifically, it should be simple: if you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll lose weight. However, we all know it takes a ton of self-discipline, sacrifice, persistence, sweat and sometimes tears just to shimmy into your skinny jeans or hit those magic digits. Keeping the weight off is a whole other challenge — and one that tends to be a lot harder to navigate. So how do you lose 20 (or more) pounds and keep it off? You step on the scale regularly, plan your meals, exercise, and eat these 20 foods every day.
Your body need fat to support cell growth, protect your organs, assist in the absorption of vital nutrients, and produce hormones. It’s not a matter of not consuming fat, it’s a matter of consuming the right kinds. Healthy monounsaturated fats, like those found in peanut butter, protect your heart, reduce the risk of stroke, keep you fuller longer, and are less likely to be stored as body flab. Add a tablespoon to your oatmeal, toss it into your smoothie, or pair it with apple slices or celery. But not all brands are created equal. Make sure to check out these 36 Top Peanut Butters—Ranked
From improving your performance in the gym and fighting body inflammation to boosting your metabolism, coffee is a weight-loss godsend. Just make sure to consume it with protein to counteract cortisol secretion, says Dr. Gabrielle Francis, a naturopathic doctor and author of The Rockstar Remedy. This is important because cortisol can reduce your body’s ability to release fat from its stores, and it can disrupt sleep. Reach for lean protein options such as cottage cheese, almonds, seeds, or yogurt.
Greek yogurt is the ultimate weight-loss food. It’s packed with satiating protein and gut-friendly probiotics, virtually fat-free, versatile and delicious. Whether you spoon it, use it to marinate, sub it for sour cream or mayo, or toss it into your blended beverage, you’ll be whittling your waist and licking your lips.
Grapefruit, lemons, oranges…where do we even begin? Citrus fruits are like the Victoria’s Secret angels of waist-whittling produce—they steal the spotlight, every time. And here’s why: they boost immunity, help diminish cellulite, reduce inflammation, keep you hydrated, boost caloric expenditure, and even help slay your body goals. In fact, a study printed in the journal Metabolism found the eating half a grapefruit before a meal may help reduce belly fat, lower cholesterol levels and shrink your waist by up to an inch in just six weeks!
This famous fruit has a proven ability to spot-reduce belly fat, lower cholesterol, squash hunger and help you make better dietary choices, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The survey results, published in Nutrition Journal, found that eating half a medium-sized avocado on a daily basis was highly correlated with improved overall diet quality. Fortunately there is no shortage of avocado recipes for weight loss
Along with keeping your taming ghrelin (the hunger hormone), blueberries are truly magic weight-loss bullets. In fact, researchers at University of Michigan found that blueberries can help you fry stubborn belly fat. After a 90-day trial, rats fed a blueberry-enriched diet showed significantly reduced visceral belly fat than the control group. They also discovered a low-fat diet boosted the health benefits of the berry consumption. In other words, rats fed both blueberries and a reduced-fat diet had lower overall fat mass and liver mass than the control group.
Green tea is no stranger to the weight loss world. Between frying calories and frying flab, we’re not sure what deserves more attention here. However, if your diet has completely derailed, start sipping on the stuff ASAP. Chinese researchers found that green tea significantly lowered triglyceride concentrations and belly fat in subjects who consumed fatty diets. What’s more? Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of green tea every day for a week recovered faster after a workout. The more you sweat, the more calories you burn and the more pounds you shed!
Speaking of foods that help you stay on track with your workout regimen, nuts contain the amino acid L-arginine, which promotes endurance training by increasing blood flow to muscles. In one study participants were either given L-arginine or a placebo, then required to cycle to exhaustion. The findings revealed that the non-placebo group not only required less oxygen (or energy) to perform, they also were able to perform high-intensity cycling for 26% longer. Pack a pre-portioned half ounce in your gym bag to reap the benefits.
From hemp, chia and flax seeds to pumpkin, seeds are nothing shy of a power food. Packed with fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, they make great additions to salads, smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt and more!
There is one factor that people don’t consider enough when it comes to tipping the scale in your favor: mental health. When we’re stressed, anxious or sad, not only are we more likely to reach for a candy bar over an apple and skip our workout, but our body is more likely to store the foods we consume as fat. Fortunately, eggs deliver all nine amino acids (including lysine), which significantly reduces anxiety and stress levels, according to findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
As a macronutrient, protein is at the heart of weight loss. Consumed properly, it increases satiety, helps to build and retain lean muscle mass (which scorches fat) and can even boost your metabolism by as much as 30 percent! However, what proteins and how much are a critical part of the equation. Opt for 3-4 ounces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, lean cuts of pork, grass-fed beef and free-range turkey. Packing in as much as 26 grams of protein for less than 150 calories or less, it helps a slimmer you never sound more obtainable.
Packing a whopping 17 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein and no saturated fat per one-cup serving, black beans are a major player in the battle of the bulge. Not only will these guys cinch your waist, they’ll also keep you sharp, thanks to anthocyanins or antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A foggy, distracted mind and a grumbling tummy never lead anywhere other than the vending machine.
The beauty of raw oats is that they contain resistant starch, and as the name sounds, this class of carbs actually resists digestion. What that means for you: prolonged feelings of fullness, a flatter stomach, a healthier gut and a lower body mass. Plus, one study found that including resistant starch with an evening meal increased the satiety hormone leptin by 51 percent and suppressed the hunger hormone ghrelin by 15 percent, compared to a meal that included a simple carbohydrate like white bread. Sounds like a no-brainer until you remember that raw oats taste a lot like chalk–but they don’t have to. Try using them in place of flour or breadcrumbs, toss them into your smoothies or whip up a container of overnight oats.
From collard greens, kale, spinach and romaine to parsley, watercress and chard, leafy greens are a low-cal way to fill up and pack your body with essential nutrients. Dish up impressive amounts of vitamin K, B vitamins, fiber, iron, calcium, and polyphenols—powerful micronutrients that serve a role in preventing disease, when you opt to steam these greens or toss them into your next salad.
From oysters, halibut, tuna, and scallops to cod and wild salmon, regular fish consumption can play a key role in taking off that spare tire. Rife with fat-blasting omega-3s and essential minerals, fish is one of the most satiating forms of protein. In fact, according to the Satiety Index of Common Foods, an Australian study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, halibut is ranked the No. 2 most filling food—bested only by boiled potatoes for its fullness factor. And an Australian study comparing satiety of different animal proteins found a nutritionally similar white fish (flake) to be significantly more satiating than beef and chicken; satiety following the white-fish meal also declined at a much slower rate. Tilapia, however, does not fall into this category!
This waist-whittling food can help increase feeling of satiety, fry belly fat, reduce blood sugar spikes, and aid healthy digestion. Can’t imagine taking it down like tequila? Add it to your smoothie, use as a salad dressing, tenderize meat, wash fruits and veggies, mix it into your guac or use it in your tea!
Chili peppers contain appetite-suppressing, fat-scorching and inflammation-fighting capsaicin, making them a vital food, condiment or seasoning for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The best part? You don’t need a lot to reap the benefits. Research from Purdue University revealed consuming just one gram is enough to do the trick. .
Regular consumption of fiber-packed complex carbs is a dieter’s foolproof way to boost energy and fight hunger. Next time you feel tempted to rip open a bag of fried spuds, grab a medium sweet potato instead. Slice it into thin rounds, sprinkle with olive oil and sea salt, and bake untill crispy. In a rush? Nuke ½ the orange veggie and pair it with one tablespoon of peanut butter for a satiating, flat-belly snack.
With an exceptional balance of fiber, protein, and fat, this seed is a guaranteed hunger squasher. Its crunchy texture and nutty flavor make it an easy addition to almost any meal. From quinoa bowls and parfaits, muffins to salads, soups and desserts, the superfood is supremely adaptive.
If there’s one item on this list you actually start using every day, let it be this one. Olive oil is the glue that holds together a healthy, active body. It’s loaded with monounsaturated fats and polyphenols that fight heart disease, reduce inflammation in the body, prevent stroke, slash the risk of developing diabetes, protect your brain, treat arthritis and promote weight management. In fact, according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a three-year study revealed that a diet rich in olive oil increased levels of antioxidants in the blood and prevented weight gain. Spray it over veggies with an olive oil sprayer (not the canned stuff) and drizzle it on your salad every chance you get.