6 Whole Foods to Add to Your Plate to Accelerate Healthy Weight Loss
With the new year in full swing now is a great time to double down on your resolutions to be healthy. Some goals, like reading more books, come naturally. Others, especially losing weight by eating healthier foods and leaving out the junk, are harder.
The good news: Following a plant-based diet can help supercharge your weight-loss efforts—especially if you incorporate these six whole foods onto your plate. We asked experts to weigh in on the top weight loss-friendly foods to drop pounds the healthy way. Load up on these when you next go to the store.
Starting your day with blueberries is an excellent idea if you’re looking to slim down a size. “They are sweet and satisfying great for you yet low in calories so they can reduce your desire for sweet desserts,” says Dr. Ellen Albertson, Ph.D., RD, NBC-HWC. “They may also help weigh weight loss because they contain a photochemical called C3G which may increase the production of both adiponectin (which enhances fat metabolism) and leptin (which suppresses appetite).”
For more on the science, check out this study on how an afternoon snack of blueberries may help with weight management. Or, take Albertson’s word for it and blend up this delicious blueberry smoothie.
Not all white foods (think: white bread, french fries, that boxed cake mix you miss like so, sigh) are bad for you. Cauliflower, as it turns out, happens to be brimming with slimming prowess, and pretty tasty when roasted with EVOO and your spices of choice.
“Cauliflower is a low-energy-density food, with one cup of cauliflower providing 25 calories. This translates to being able to eat a large quantity for only a small amount of calories. If you are a volume eater, cauliflower is the food for you,” offers Allison Gregg, RDN, LDN, a nutritional consultant at MomLovesBest. “It also has a very high water-and-fiber content, which helps fight hunger. And, a study in PLOS Medicine found that increased consumption of non-starchy vegetables such as cauliflower was associated with weight loss.”
Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, LD with Balance One Supplements also highlight frozen cauliflower rice for its help in the weight loss department: “Frozen cauliflower rice is likely the most versatile and convenient of all cauliflower forms. It cooks within minutes and provides nearly as much of the nutrient content of its fresh variety,” she says. Cauliflower rice Buddha Bowl for dinner, perhaps?
Whether it’s kidney, pinto, black beans, or another type of beans, be sure to load up on beans daily to promote weight loss. “Beans are very high in fiber and protein and are one of my favorite vegan foods to recommend for weight loss. According to the ‘POUNDS Lost’ study, dietary fiber, independent of macronutrient content and calorie level, predicts weight loss in adults,” comments Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES, MyNetDiary nutritionist.
If you’re new to plant-based eating (or are just looking for simple recipe ideas), check out these easy meals you can make with a can of beans from Sweet Potato Mushroom Guacamole Burgers to Black Bean Falafel.
Ah, there’s just something about that refreshing crunch that’s even better than carrots or celery with our afternoon hummus snack. And when you’re looking to lose weight, jicama can be a star ingredient in your bloat-fighting diet: “Jicama has two important properties that contribute to weight loss. First, jicama is a high water and fiber food. This promotes satiety after consuming,” says Gregg. “Secondly, jicama contains the prebiotic fiber inulin, which has been studied for its aid in weight loss and relationship with hormones that affect hunger and fullness. Studies have shown that inulin may help contribute to a feeling of satisfaction and fullness.” (For more on inulin and weight loss, check out this study.)
5. Spiralized Veggie Noodles
It’s time to zoodle it up. Or if you don’t want to use zucchini, try other fresh and low-calorie vegetables like summer squash, beets, or carrots. “When you use them to replace regular pasta you decrease the caloric density yet feel satisfied,” comments Albertson.
We hear veggie noodles play nice with that dairy-free basil pesto you’ve been meaning to try. Or, top your zoodles with tomato sauce and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.
The perfect, filling waistline-friendly snack. Here’s why: “While [nuts] are high in total calories they contain monounsaturated fats and protein which can keep blood sugar levels balanced, so you don’t get too hungry,” explains Albertson. “Research shows eating nuts is associated with reduced risk of weight gain.”
We love snacking on almonds with a few baby carrots for a mid-day pick me up. Or try walnuts and oatmeal with cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup. Or a handful of macadamia nuts with an apple between meetings. Or...can you tell we’re nuts for nuts?