Most people believe low-calorie foods help you lose weight, and they try to fill up on celery. But because it has next to no nutrients, celery alone won’t actually help you stay full and within minutes you’ll be tempted to reach for the chips. The healthiest way to sustain weight loss is to eat more vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber, nutrient-dense and will leave you feeling fuller longer. That includes some surprising foods such as grapefruit, which has been shown to help you limit your calorie intake all day long.
Even some foods that are rich in calories like avocados are weight-loss friendly since they fill you up and keep your blood sugar low by keeping insulin at near-fasting levels. The Beet compiled this list of seven plant-based foods that are diet-friendly and will help you tap into your body’s natural weight-loss ability. These seven foods will each help you feel full, longer, and provide plenty of nutrients so you’ll feel satisfied longer, check out the perfect salad to combine all of these diet-friendly foods in one super healthy meal.
The key is to eat foods that are high in nutrients and help your body keep blood sugar low. To avoid dieting and lose weight naturally, stick to whole plant-based foods that are full of nutrients and you’ll be satiated, nourished, and have more energy to burn calories rather than store them.
The next time you’re at the grocery store, add these 7 foods to your cart and check out The Beet’s recipes for creative, easy-to-make, and healthy ways to add them to delicious meals.
1. Eat avocado to help you burn fat naturally.
There’s a misconception that the fat in avocados adds fat to your body but in fact, avocados are the perfect food to eat for weight loss. The delicious green fruit has a bad reputation since one average avocado contains 160 calories and 15 grams of fat, but the monosaturated fat in avocado is actually healthy and helps your body burn fat for energy. Unlike eating the same amount of fat in a bag of chips, your blood sugar stays low and your body learns to burn fat for fuel.
In a study published by The National Institutes of Health, researchers explain: “It’s not just the satiety value of the avocado or the monounsaturated fat, but there is a sugar [in avocados] called mannoheptulose, and this sugar helps the way your body uses the insulin [which] helps to reduce insulin resistance.” So essentially avocado is a perfect combination of fat, fiber, and healthy whole carbs that signals your body to burn more fat naturally.
In a study done on lab animals, this specific sugar molecule has the same effect on insulin as fasting does, meaning your body will burn fat as if you have been intermittent fasting, even if you eat an avocado. So this fruit sugar has the effect of mimicking fasting levels of insulin, and the lower your insulin the more you will burn fat.
In addition, eating avocados nourish your body with plant-based fuel while making you feel full for up to six hours, resulting in eating less food throughout the day.
2. Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables provide fiber and nutrients.
Kale, spinach, swiss chard, and other leafy greens are all high in fiber and extremely low in calories, an easy way to add density to your plate and the feeling of fullness, while still getting important nutrients. By keeping your calories low and eating cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens that are high in water and nutrient content, you manage to both quell hunger and lose weight effectively, researchers concluded in a study published by the National Institute of Health. Eating just one cup of leafy vegetables such as collard greens or swiss chard per meal provides 4 grams of fiber and when combined with plant-based protein from chickpeas or lentils, for example, makes a perfect vegan taco meal for healthy weight loss (use the leaves of the vegetables as your wrap and avoid cooking the filling with oil).
Your mother was right when she said, “you need to finish your broccoli before you can eat dessert,” because cruciferous vegetables are extremely nutrient-dense and arguably the healthiest vegetables to eat for weight loss. Other examples of cruciferous vegetables are cauliflower (which contains 12 grams of dietary fiber in one cup), cabbage which has six calories per cup, and brussels sprouts, which contain 38 calories and three grams of protein per cup. Cabbage earned its weight-loss cred when it was the basis for the cabbage soup diet which was a major fad diet in the 90s, since eating cabbage 24 /7 helped people lose as much as ten pounds in a week. You don’t need to go that extreme, just add cabbage to the rotation of your evening veggies and skip the butter since it’s plenty flavorful.
3. Boiled Potatoes help you feel full and avoid binging.
Due to the fact that they are high in carbs, white potatoes have a bad reputation as a diet-friendly food. But the truth is, boiled potatoes are full of nutrients and can help you lose weight by making you feel fuller longer, so long as you skip the oil or butter or sour cream that most people slather on top. In a study that measured the satiety level of different foods, boiled potatoes ranked number one, which means they can fill you up and leave you satisfied so you don’t overeat or find yourself binging.
There are lots of low carb diets on the internet that are not healthy or easy to sustain and once you’re off the diet, the weight comes back on. The keto diet, for example, is a low carb high protein diet and is not in favor of boiled potatoes, but other people like Chef AJ lost 100 pounds eating the opposite of keto and loves potatoes.
Don’t shy away from this nutrient-dense vegetable and add fresh rosemary and a dash of salt to your boiled potatoes for delicious flavor.
4. Beans and legumes supply clean plant-based protein.
Beans and legumes like lentils, kidney beans, and chickpeas are high in fiber and plant-based protein keeping you fuller longer. One study explains: “A diet that regularly includes legumes may help with weight control. The fiber, protein, and slowly digested carbohydrate found in legumes may aid in satiety.” In addition, legumes high in magnesium like dry roasted beans, garbanzo beans, and soybeans, lower stress hormones, and fight depression. Add lentils and kidney beans to your salads or plant-based tacos wrapped in leafy greens for a healthy and happy weight loss meal.
5. Chili Peppers help you rev up your metabolism.
Chili peppers, famous for their intense heat and flavor, are known to rev your metabolism and burn fat, according to studies. In most cases, spicy or hot foods boost your metabolism because they contain a compound called capsaicin that heats the body and burns more calories–you literally heat up! One study concludes that there is an “increase in the energy expenditure after the meal containing red pepper,” which can help speed up metabolism. Another study explains that capsaicin can help to reduce calorie and fat intake overall (the mechanism of why this happens was not explained, but anecdotally when you eat hot food, you eat less). But, make sure you eat chili peppers only occasionally because your body can build a tolerance to the heat which lowers the benefits as you build up a tolerance to them.
6. Chia Seeds provide the most fiber per ounce.
Although chia seeds are extremely tiny, they’re surprisingly full of protein and fiber and have weight loss benefits. Chia seeds are known to be one of the best sources of fiber: One ounce contains 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of plant-based protein. Studies have shown that a diet of 30 grams of fiber a day helps you lose as much weight as dieting and restricting calories, so add chia seeds to your breakfast for a start to your healthy sustainable weight loss, and don’t worry about a complicated diet.
Chia seeds have a limited taste so they can be sprinkled on almost anything, like salads, yogurt, cereal, sandwiches, smoothies, or in a snack of mixed nuts and seeds. The tiny black seeds are a convenient way to add nutrients to your meals for healthy, easy weight loss.
7. Grapefruit will help you eat fewer calories.
The sour citrus in some grapefruit is enough to make you squint but the tart taste is worth the savor. Grapefruit is known as a “weight loss fruit” and many old school diets like the Scarsdale Diet swore by this pink citrus to start the day and get your body on the right track. More recently researchers have looked into what makes grapefruit specifically such an effective weight-loss food. In a 12-week study, 91 obese participants ate half a grapefruit before meals and lost and an average of 3.5 pounds, with no other changes in their calories or workouts. Eating a grapefruit before other food may help you feel satisfied and eat fewer calories overall.
How to Make the Perfect Salad With These 7 Weight-Loss-Friendly Foods
One easy way to incorporate these foods into your diet is to add them to your favorite salad recipe to add more fibrous and nutrient-dense foods to your day, which will help you eat smaller portions and fewer calories overall.
The base of your salad bowl should be leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale, the darker the green, the more nutrient-rich it is likely to be. Add broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, all rich in vitamins and antioxidants, to reduce inflammation in the body. Next, add lean plant protein like beans and legumes, lentils and chickpeas which are also high in fiber. Cut up a few boiled potatoes to satisfy your cravings for carbs, add half an avocado in slices or diced chunks.
You can also add some tiny chopped up chili peppers to the mix because to rev your metabolism and burn calories after you eat. Cut your grapefruit in half and add small slices to the mix to add a cool citrus acid to counter the heat from the peppers. Sprinkle a pinch of chia seeds for tasteless protein and fiber to complete your healthy masterpiece and feel fully satisfied.
Along with adding these seven weight-loss friendly foods, add more movement to your routine daily. For quick tone-up moves, see The Beet’s five-minute workout video series with Caroline Deisler helps to build lean muscle and boost your metabolism for even faster and healthier weight loss.