List of 30 Healthy Weight Loss Foods
There are a variety of weight loss foods can help overweight people shed off excess pounds without compromising their health – here's our list of the 30 healthiest foods for weight loss. Consider adding these super-healthy weight loss foods to your grocery list if you are looking for a way to fight overweight and obesity without artificial supplements.
Note that this section of HealWithFood.org's Nutrition & Weight Loss Guide is focused on foods with nutrient profiles that are particularly beneficial for overweight people who wish to shed off extra pounds. If you are looking for more general guidelines on nutrition and weight loss, visit this Guide's diet page. For recipes that combine some of the healthiest weight loss foods, visit the Guide's recipe page.
#1: Romaine Lettuce
Lettuce is a low calorie food that can be used as a basis for light, delectable salads. But it does not always have to be iceberg lettuce! Romaine lettuce offers a multitude of benefits to anyone wishing to shed off extra pounds. In addition to being extremely low in calories, it is supercharged with many important nutrients. It is a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K, folate, and manganese. It is also one of the best dietary sources of chromium. Research suggests that chromium may help increase and maintain lean body mass and aid in fat loss, when combined with exercise. These effects of chromium on body composition are believed to result from its ability to enhance insulin's activity and to improve insulin sensitivity in the body. The absorption of chromium from romaine lettuce is believed to be particularly good because of the vitamin C it contains. Vitamin C in romaine is known to enhance the absorption of chromium.
Although not a food, water is included in this list of healthy weight loss foods because of its amazing properties. Water provides no calories but can increase the feeling of fullness.
In fact, it has been suggested that drinking large volumes of ice-cold water could actually burn calories. This is because ice water needs to be warmed to body temperature when it enters the body, which requires energy (calories). Consuming 2 liters of ice water a day would result in roughly 70 extra calories burned. Furthermore, staying well hydrated encourages the body to use the kidneys, rather than the liver, for eliminating waste products. One of the liver's main functions is the conversion of energy from stored body fat. If the liver does not have to focus on eliminating waste products, it can concentrate on mobilizing body fat.
Grapefruit has been touted for its ability to shed off excess pounds. Now, there's also scientific proof for this: A study conducted at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla in 2004 found that eating half a grapefruit before a meal can indeed help people lose weight. The researchers compared the effect of grapefruit capsules, grapefruit juice and real grapefruit. While all three helped, the weight loss was most pronounced among those who were eating the real grapefruit. The mechanism by which grapefruit may aid weight loss, however, is not fully understood.
#4: Cayenne and Chili Peppers
Good news for salsa and chili sauce lovers: several studies suggest that capsaicin, the major pungent ingredient in cayenne and chili peppers, can increase the body's heat production (thermogenesis), thereby increasing the rate at which the body burns carbohydrates and fats. One study showed that capsaicin in hot chillies could increase the resting metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns carbohydrates and fats at rest) by up to 25%. The effects on the metabolic rate peaked at 75 to 90 minutes after the consumption of the capsaicin and lasted for up to three hours. Furthermore, research suggests that capsaicin can suppress appetite and reduce the amount of calories consumed during subsequent meals: In one trial, half of the subjects were given tomato juice with chili powder, while the rest drank it plain. Those who received the drink containing the capsaicin consumed 16% fewer calories on average.
#5: Ginger Root
Ginger root, one of the oldest spices in the world, is known to have been used in China as early as 400 B.C. Although best known for its cold treating powers, ginger root can also be an excellent weight loss aid and is in fact found in many weight loss supplements. Ginger root has appetite suppressing qualities, and it has been shown to rev up the metabolism. In one animal study, ginger increased the metabolism 20%. In addition, some evidence suggests that ginger may also be effective at enhancing insulin sensitivity. Fresh ginger, which is said to be the most effective form of ginger, is available year round in the produce section of supermarkets.
#6: White Kidney Beans
Beans are wonderfully versatile legumes that come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Yet, they are all tasty and highly nutritious. They are also an excellent food to eat on a regular basis if you are looking to shift those pounds. While being low in calories and fat, they are packed with protein and fiber. Further, recent research suggests that a certain enzyme present in white kidney beans (also known as cannellini beans) can inhibit the breakdown and absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines. This is of course great news for those who tend to gain extra pounds when consuming lots of carbs. If your diet is currently low in beans, it is best to add them gradually as they may initially cause intestinal gas.
Barley is superhero grain for anyone who wants to lose weight. Not only is minimally processed barley low in calories, it also has the lowest Glycemic Index (GI) rating of all common grains. Grains which have a high Glycemic Index (GI) rating are quickly broken down by the body and cause a rapid, large rise in blood glucose levels, which in turn triggers the pancreas to release large amounts of insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy, but high amounts of insulin promote fat storage in the body. In contrast, low-GI carbs such as barley take much longer to digest and cause only a small, slow rise in the blood glucose and insulin levels. In addition, low GI foods can reduce cravings as they provide the body with a slow, steady supply of energy. Whole grain barley, the least processed and most nutrient-dense type of barley, is still relatively difficult to find in regular grocery stores, but it is increasingly available at health food markets and online (see where to get whole grain barley).
#8: Chicken Breast
If you are concerned about excess pounds, chicken breast is a good food to add to your shopping list. Skinless chicken breast packs a protein punch but has a very low fat and carbohydrate content. It is also a good source of B vitamins such as vitamin B3 and vitamin B6. Vitamin B3 may be particularly helpful to those whose expanding waistline is linked to insulin resistance. Vitamin B6, on the other hand, is necessary for the proper absorption of zinc, another important fat loss nutrient.
#9: Pine Nuts
Harvesting pine nuts (also known as piñon nuts) is a labor-intensive task and that is why these delicate, sweet buttery nuts are somewhat more expensive than other nuts. But if your budget allows it, don't hesitate to include these healthy nuts in your weight loss diet. In addition to packing a protein punch, pine nuts contain endogenous cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1), two chemicals that have been shown to increase the feeling of fullness and to suppress appetite. Keep in mind, however, that pine nuts are very high in calories and should thus be consumed only in small quantities.
Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is a great way to start a day off right. Research shows that oats are among the most filling foods, and eating them early in the day can reduce the number of calories consumed throughout the rest of the day. This is not suprising as oats are an excellent source of protein and fiber—two macronutrients that are well known to enhance the feeling of satiety. In addition, oats are an excellent source of B vitamins and zinc.