There is, sadly, no magical food that can guarantee weight loss. However, there are a wide variety of foods that can aid weight loss as part of a balanced diet. You can look to high fiber contents to create a sense of fullness, high healthy fat contents that keep you feeling full longer, and nutrients that can help maintain a healthy metabolism.
We all know fresh fruits and veggies are good for the body, but read on for a list of 40 wholesome foods (including a fair share of fruits and veggies) that are especially good for those attempting to lose weight.
Leafy greens refer, unsurprisingly, to the wide variety of vegetables that are green and leafy! It includes common greens like spinach as well as more niche vegetables like beet and mustard tops. Leafy greens are an incredibly important part of a balanced diet, as they contain many trace nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere.
Leafy greens can easily be incorporated into green juice and fruit smoothies, which is especially helpful for getting a picky child (or adult) eater to consume them. Many greens are also delicious when lightly sautéed with spices and olive oil.
Science has gone back and forth on eggs over the decades, primarily over whether or not the amount of cholesterol outweighed the positives. Science is once again firmly back on the side of eggs, thanks to their lean protein. Studies routinely show that those who start their day with eggs instead of carbohydrates like bagels lose weight faster.
Eggs are also a great source of branched-chain amino acids, which studies show to aid keeping your metabolism running smoothly and at a consistently higher pace. Hard-boiled eggs, especially when made the night before, are a simple and satisfying breakfast, even for busy people on the go.
The cruciferous vegetables include salad favorites like broccoli and cauliflower as well as cabbage, bok choy, kale, and Brussels sprouts. This family of veggies is chock full of vitamins and nutrients as well as fiber, which helps keep you full after a meal.
If cruciferous vegetables give you bloating or fairly common gas try steaming them before eating as this breaks down some of the harder to digest compounds. Cauliflower is currently a trendy replacement for potatoes and even some wheat-based dough, like pizza crust. Brussels sprouts, while the terror of many a childhood palette, are absolutely delicious grilled with a bit of balsamic vinegar.
If you are considering a pescatarian diet, which means still eating fish but not mammalian flesh, salmon should be a major staple in your diet. This delicious, buttery fish is packed with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can be challenging to find in other foods.
Eating lean proteins like salmon that are low in saturated fat has also been shown to reduce visceral fat around organs. Salmon is a versatile fish that holds up to cooking beautifully. It can be grilled with dill for a classic treat, or enjoyed raw in sushi, sashimi, or even ceviche.
Much like salmon, tuna is a vital part of a pescatarian or meat eating diet. Whether fresh or canned (if packed in water,) tuna is a low calorie yet high protein food that can be cooked in a wide variety of ways for a rich, filling meal. Tuna is also rich in the essential omega-3 fatty acids.
An important note: tuna is one of the fish most prone to bioaccumulating toxins like mercury and lead. Pregnant women should talk to their doctors about safe levels of tuna and other fish to consume. Always choose tuna packed in water, not oil, to reduce the fat content and sodium levels.
Potatoes have gotten an undeserved bad rap as being a starchy waste of calories. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. While potatoes are starchy, it is that very starch that digests slowly, allowing potatoes to keep you full longer. In studies of satiety, potatoes ranked number one for filling up tummies.
Due to their high quantities of starch, potatoes should be consumed in moderation and with the skin intact for extra vitamins and nutrients. Of course, avoid fried potatoes and opt for healthier roasted or boiled options.
Getting enough lean protein is a struggle for many people attempting to lose weight. Lean chicken is a cheap and abundantly available source of lean protein that can be cooked in countless ways, making it a versatile addition to any meat-eating diet. When shopping, look for chicken breasts as this is easily the leanest portion of the bird.
Chicken breasts are incredibly easy to prepare and cook, and can be included in everything from Mexican dishes to Indian to African. Chicken’s mild flavor makes it an ideal base protein for any sort of flavorful spiced dish.
While beef is considerably more expensive than chicken, lean beef provides a variety of unique health benefits to a meat eater’s diet. Beef is extremely rich in minerals and has a great deal of protein. It is also a vital source of L-carnitine and the antioxidant Glutathione.
Thankfully, some of the leanest cuts of beef are also some of the cheapest. Cuts like chuck eye and flank steak tend to be on the cheaper side thanks to their dryness, which requires longer cooking time. For those seeking lean beef protein, try recipes that include chemical methods for tenderizing the meat or that slowly stew it for maximum tenderness.
Lentils are widely considered one of the healthiest and most complete foods in the world. These easy to cook relatives of the pea and other legumes contain a whopping of protein and fiber in each serving, making them ideal for filling you up and keeping you full between meals. They also have at least twice as much iron as other legumes, as well as vitamins and antioxidants.
Many cultures have absolutely delicious ways of preparing lentils, but Ethiopian and Indian cuisines have perhaps the most extensive variety of recipes. The creamy texture and mild flavor of lentils lend themselves to a wide range of delicious dishes.
Beans indeed are a magical food, but not for the reasons in the silly rhyme. This healthy food is packed absolutely to the brim with protein, containing as much as many meat sources but without the saturated fat that comes with animal proteins. The high fiber content also makes beans incredibly filling.
Thanks to the creamy texture and mild flavor of many types of beans, and especially black beans, they can be incorporated into savory and sweet dishes. Black bean brownies offer a much healthier alternative for the chocolate snack. Bean-based smoothies are another great way to fit more beans into your diet.
Cottage cheese, much like yogurt, is a great weight loss choice when a full-fat variety is eaten. Look for low-sodium types, as the high salt content is the major drawback to most widely available forms of cottage cheese.
These white curds contain a great deal of calcium, which isn’t found in many of the other foods on this list, with yogurt being the other primary source. Calcium is incredibly essential for bone health. Cottage cheese can be used in place of richer, fattier cheeses in many recipes and is a great, filling side dish to a salad.
While it may sound strange, broth is an excellent diet food for anyone looking to lose weight. Thanks to being composed mainly of water, broth is incredibly filling. Studies have found that participants eat measurable less food after drinking a cup of soup before meals. The broth is also highly nutritious.
For meat-eaters, any form of bone broth is extremely nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals. For vegetarians, vegetable broth can also be extremely nutritious and has a delicate, sweet flavor thanks to the use of carrots. Boil up your own broth to avoid high-sodium store varieties.
All jokes about millennials and avocado toast aside, avocados are an absolute powerhouse food with many beneficial nutrients and fats. It’s no surprise that avocados are often listed as a superfood thanks to their high contents of monounsaturated fats, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins C and E.
To incorporate more avocados into your diet, try adding slices of fresh avocado to a salad or as a garnish on lean protein tacos. Avocado can also be incorporated into sweet dishes and make a fantastic, creamy base for low-sugar smoothies. It also must be said that avocado toast is a delicious way to eat this superfood!
Nuts are a fantastic source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats can aid in lowering cholesterol. The high protein and fat content of nuts help increase feelings of satiety or feeling full, and that feeling lasts longer with proteins and fats.
These salty and sometimes sweet treats are relatively high in calories, and their delicious crunch makes them easy to overindulge, so make sure you carefully measure a portion size if you want to incorporate nuts into a reduced calorie diet. Try adding small quantities of chopped nuts to oatmeal, yogurt, or a lean protein salad to add them to your diet.
While there is a popular fad diet that revolves around apple cider vinegar, that is not a healthy or long-term weight loss option. Instead, apple cider vinegar is simply a very flavorful vinegar that can be used to make delicious, healthy vinaigrettes at home or to create flavorful acidic glazes that pair beautifully with many vegetables.
In addition to vinaigrettes, apple cider vinegar is commonly found in vegan queso dip recipes, can spice up a quinoa salad, is an excellent complement to many teriyakis and other sauce recipes, and more.
There is continually mounting evidence that the effect of spicy peppers on your metabolism is real and profound. Researchers found that capsaicin, the compound that gives spicy peppers their burn, increased the body’s ability to burn fat by as many as 90 extra calories after a meal. While less notorious than their heat, peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin C.
Many culinary traditions around the world heavily use peppers, so try out recipes until you find a spicy flavor palette that works for you. Stir-fry is a great way to test out pepper preferences, as are salsas and guacamole. For those with a sweet tooth, try adding a bit of chili pepper to a dark chocolate drizzle over fruit.
Whole grains can be a confusing, nebulous term, but generally, it is used to refer to any grain food like corn, wheat, rice, quinoa, or others that are eaten in their entirety, meaning the kernel and interior contents. This wide range of foods is often grouped due to their similar health benefits, including high quantities of fiber, leading to long-lasting fullness.
To incorporate more whole grains into your diet, learn to read labels carefully. Many loaves of bread and other refined items marketed as “whole grain” really aren’t, leading to a great deal of confusion. Foods like quinoa that are visible whole grain are much simpler to incorporate into your diet.
Love it or hate it, grapefruit contains a compound that lowers insulin, which is a fat storage hormone. A study found that eating one half of a grapefruit before every meal resulted in weight loss without making any other dietary changes. Grapefruits are also around 90% water, which means they hydrate you while simultaneously making you feel full.
An important note: grapefruit contains medically active compounds that can seriously interfere with a wide variety of medications, including common drugs like some allergy and blood pressure medications. People with diabetes should also consult their doctor before incorporating grapefruit extensively into their diets.
While it may be hard to believe that the once infamous Chia Pet’s same seeds are now a widely lauded health food, it’s a fact! The once-novelty-pet seeds are now found in everything from yogurt to peanut butter to kombucha, and for a good reason: the tiny seeds pack a massive punch of fiber, calcium, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds have a wide variety of uses. They are fantastic thickeners for pudding, pair beautifully with yogurt, blend smoothly into smoothies, and more. For more savory purposes, chia seeds can even be mixed into vinaigrettes to give a satisfying and filling texture to your salads.
Yogurt is a phenomenal weight loss food with one major caveat: it must be full fat! Many yogurts on the market are being sold as reduced-fat or “lite,” and they are typically loaded with sugars to replace the flavor lost by cutting the fat. This option not only is bad for your diet but will leave you with a sugar crash and craving food again quickly.
Greek yogurt is the best option for those looking to lose weight since its thick texture is satisfying and filling to eat, and it is crammed with protein for long-lasting satiety. There is also some evidence that the cultures involved in the creation of Greek yogurt aid in lasting fullness.
Coconut oil is really having a moment, being featured in magazines and on TV shows and making its way into many people’s diets and beauty routines. All of the popularity is well deserved, given coconut oil’s quantities of healthy medium-chain triglycerides which digest easily and quickly convert into usable energy for your body.
You can add coconut oil to coffee in place of dairy creamers or butter. It’s also popularly used as a replacement for olive oil in many sautéing. It can be whipped into smoothies to add a healthy source of fat that will make you feel full quickly and for longer than other fats.
Apples are chock full of pectin, which you may be familiar with as a common botanical source of thickener. Pectin digests very slowly in the human body, which helps apples to make you feel full for much longer. The fiber in apples, especially in the skin, also helps you feel full. Apples are also rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that support an overall healthy diet.
If eating a whole apple, skin and all, isn’t your favorite, try some shredded skin-on apples in a slaw or salad. Cubed tart apples, like Granny Smiths, are also an excellent addition to salads, especially when combined with a lean protein like chicken and a crunchy tree nut accent like walnuts.
Coffee addicts of the world, rejoice! Coffee is, indeed, a useful and healthy addition to a weight loss diet when consumed in moderation and not loaded with unnecessary fats and sugars. Researchers have routinely found that coffee does cause a small increase in metabolism for regular drinkers, so your daily cup of Joe may be giving your metabolism a boost.
This warm or cold beverage also works as an appetite suppressant, staving off the mid-morning munchies. If you don’t enjoy coffee, try adding a few coffee grounds to a smoothie or even rubbing a lean piece of meat with coffee grounds as part of a dry spice rub.
Most people are aware that bananas are a uniquely good source of potassium. What is less well known is that bananas are full of resistant starch, a slow to digest nutrient that helps to keep you full long after eating them. There is also evidence that resistant starches encourage your liver to switch into a fat burning mode of operation.
For those of you who don’t like green bananas, you’re in for a bit of bad news: resistant starches are at their highest concentrations in underripe bananas. The sweeter a banana, the less resistant starch is still present. Try incorporating less ripe bananas into yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal to cover some of the green flavors.
While rice is an everyday staple in many healthy diets around the world, brown rice is an even better option thanks to its higher fiber content, loads of resistant starches, and its status as a low energy density food, meaning that it is extremely filling while also being low calorie.
An even healthier, though harder to find, rice option is black rice, a typical food in Korean cooking. This yummy rice has more antioxidants than the superfood blueberry and more vitamin E than brown rice. Brown and black rice take longer to cook than standard white rice varieties, so a pressure cook may be a good investment if you want to incorporate these delicious and healthy staples into your diet more efficiently.
Dark chocolate contains many antioxidants that aren’t found in any other food. It is also a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, which can give the metabolism a boost. Most important, however, is dark chocolate’s role in helping dieters stave off cravings for other less healthy sweet, salty, and fatty foods.
Try melting a square of high cocoa percentage dark chocolate into oatmeal for a decadent, filling breakfast. Smoothies also benefit from a melted square of chocolate. Try pairing dark chocolate with the concept of intentional eating, which advises dieters to be mindful of their food choices and eat what they are truly craving.
In addition to high fiber content, foods with high water content also increase feelings of fullness or satiety. These foods are actually a critical source of part of the water we need to consume daily. Carrots are also famed for their high quantities of beta-carotene, which converts to, vitamin A, which is vital to healthy bodies and eyesight.
While raw carrots are a great, filling and low-calorie snack, roasted and cooked carrots actually have more readily available and digestible antioxidants than fresh carrots! Try some grilled or sautéed carrots alongside your next mail to savor the healthy sweetness of this powerhouse vegetable.
If you have a sweet tooth, it can be incredibly hard to find satisfying foods that cure your cravings without crashing your diet. If this describes your daily struggle, try incorporating figs into your meals! Figs are extremely sweet yet also dense and fiber-rich, so a little bit will fill you up and slowly release sugar into your body, preventing the dreaded sugar crash.
Figs can be a genuinely luscious base for a fruit salad, especially when paired with melons and ricotta cheese. Many healthy, fresh Mediterranean desserts use figs thanks to their complex sweet flavor. Figs aren’t always easy to find at the supermarket, but most Mediterranean or specialty grocery stores should carry them.
If coffee isn’t your style, but you’re looking for a lightly caffeinated drink to help with weight loss, green tea may be perfect for you. Green tea, made from steeping unfermented tea leaves, is a fresh and bright tasting tea that is chock full of powerful antioxidants that have been shown repeatedly in research to raise the metabolism and burn fat, especially around the midsection.
To make a potent health drink, try adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to your green tea. Not only is the lemon itself beneficial, but the citrus acids help preserve and stabilize the antioxidants in the drink, allowing your body to absorb even more goodness.
Kimchi is a spicy, fermented side dish that is popular throughout Korea. Thanks to being fermented, kimchi is full of healthy probiotics that can aid your metabolism, power up your gut, and keep you feeling full. The capsaicin in the tasty treat can also help boost your metabolism and burn fat.
This unique food is a delicious side dish on its own, but can also be incorporated into recipes like kimchi fried rice to stretch it into a full meal. Look for kimchi in the refrigerated foods section of your local Asian market and enjoy the low-calorie delicious benefits of this fermented superfood.
These sour fruits provide dieters with a smooth, delicious, and low-calorie way to add a bright, beautiful flavor to a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes. Lemons also contain pectic which, like in apples, is slow to digest and can increase feelings of satiety and make them last longer.
Lemon juice added to vegetable steaming water imparts a light, fresh hint of citrus. Slices of lemon in water or iced tea provide a nice boost of citrus fat burning power while also making it easier to enjoy your minimum of eight glasses of water a day.
If you enjoy the ease and flavor of a sandwich for lunch but are worried about calories, the world of mustards may be just the flavor addition you need. Mustard is extremely low in calories and saturated fat, yet provides even more flavor than fatty and high-calorie additions like mayo and miracle whip.
Mustard, made from the ground seeds of the mustard plant and various additives like vinegar and other flavorings, comes in a wide variety of flavors from the pungent and spicy horseradish stoneground mustard to the sweet and aromatic dijon. There is mustard for virtually any sandwich and palette.
It may surprise some to see peanut butter on this list due to its high caloric content, but when eaten in moderation peanut butter has several weight loss benefits. Peanut butter, notably reduced sugar varieties, is full of protein and healthy fat. When combined with a complex carbohydrate like some apple slices, you have a healthy snack that will keep you full for hours.
Look for peanut butter that is as simple as possible, ideally containing only peanuts and salt. If your peanut butter does double duty as a pet treat, make sure you also select a variety that is free of xylitol!
Oatmeal is another terrific source of the resistant starch that digests slowly leaving you with a consistent source of energy and fullness. Cooked oatmeal, in particular, has been shown in research to contribute to weight loss thanks to its high fiber content in addition to the resistant starch.
This warm dish is also a terrific vehicle for other superfoods like chia seeds. Even more indulgent foods like dark chocolate can be added to the healthy base of cooked oatmeal for a filling, healthy breakfast that is also a delight for the senses. Fruits and healthy spices like cinnamon are also perfect complements to the grain.
What could be better than a snack that comes with its own built-in portion control through tedious to open shells? Only a treat that is also packed with as much potassium as a banana and full of the vision-protecting antioxidant lutein! This treat is relatively high in calorie, despite its benefits, so buy shelled varieties for natural portion control.
Pistachios pair beautifully with figs, another superfood on this list, as well as many other relatively low-sugar Mediterranean desserts. Pistachios can also be added to salads for a rich pop of flavor and crunch.
While many people think of quinoa as a grain, it is technically a seed! This versatile little superfood is easy to cook and can be used in countless ways from being eaten as-is, to formed into burger patties or even added to baked goods.
Quinoa is full of iron and magnesium, both of which help to energize your body. Quinoa is also gluten-free, which makes it an especially important source of fiber for those who cannot digest gluten due to celiac disease. In addition to nutrients and fiber, quinoa also has a surprising amount of protein, which makes it a filling side dish.
If you are a snacker, you need to find that one fantastic snack that you can enjoy and fill up on without ruining your diet. If this sounds like you, try popcorn! Popcorn is technically a whole grain, and when not loaded with butter and other toppings, it is very low in calories. Popcorn also has a surprisingly high amount of fiber and protein, making it filling and satisfying.
To flavor popcorn without adding loads of calories, try a pressure oil vaporizer and mist your popcorn with healthier oil like olive. Fat-free and low-sodium seasoning mixes and spices are another great way to add flavor without calories.
There is no doubt that Popeye was on to something with his love of spinach. The leafy green is an incredibly rich source of iron, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, and more. Studies have found that a spinach-rich diet helps control insulin and blood sugar levels and aids in weight loss.
Raw spinach is the perfect base for a delicious, nutrient-packed salad. Cooked spinach, whether as part of a pizza or eaten alone as a side with garlic and olive oil, actually makes more of the nutrients available to the body, much like cooking carrots.
You may have noticed a considerable increase in sweet potato French fries and potato chips in your local supermarket, and for a good reason. Sweet potatoes contain the same baseline benefits as potatoes, but with even more nutrients, healthier starches, and fewer calories. Just one sweet potato contains four times the minimum recommended daily amount of vitamin A.
Sweet potato can be used in virtually any case where a potato is called for, with a similar flavor that has just a hint more sweetness and a slightly squash-like flavor. Sweet potato can also be used in place of many summer squashes, making it an incredibly versatile staple.
While often viewed as just a flavoring or an exclusively autumn treat, pumpkin should really be a staple food for anyone trying to lose weight. Only one serving of pumpkin contains over 20% of your entire day’s recommended intake of fiber, meaning pumpkin will make you feel pleasantly full for hours.
Pumpkin is often used in fat and sugar-filled bakery recipes but can be made into delicious, low-calorie savory options like curried pumpkin soup. Pumpkin is a versatile winter squash that can be substituted in place of many other winter squashes.