Weight loss is a multidimensional process that entails not just regular exercise but also dietary discretion. However, some of us are too in love with food to give it up in the pursuit of a slimmer waist.
In colloquial usage, dieting has more or less come to connote “starving yourself to a smaller size.” People tend to blur the lines between being slim and being undernourished, which can have dangerous implications on their overall health.
Thus, swearing off food in the hopes of a quick and easy body makeover is a misleading concept that should be completely done away with.
Those struggling with weight issues should consult with a dietitian to come up with an appropriate eating plan that could jumpstart their weight loss journey but not at the expense of their nutrition.
The idea is to eat right, in terms of what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. To that end, there are a few selected food items that could help move your weighing scale in the right direction without you having to break a sweat.
These foods can help you slim down or help you maintain a healthy weight while simultaneously supplementing your body with vital health-promoting nutrients that aid in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, preventing heart disease, and controlling type 2 diabetes.
The most sought-after weight-loss-friendly foods tend to be highly fibrous, which help keep you satiated for longer. Another common characteristic is that they have a low energy density, which implies that you can devour a decent-sized portion of the said food without overdoing it on calories.
By keeping your energy levels high and your metabolism at its best throughout the day, these appetizing food choices can inch you closer to your ideal weight and size.
Losing weight by diet control alone can be a difficult prospect if you don’t pair it with adequate exercise. Thus, it is imperative that you sign up for a gym membership or push in some form of physical activity in your daily routine.
What Causes Weight Gain?
Unhealthy dietary choices, excessive eating, and an inactive lifestyle are usually the prime culprits for weight gain. There are also some other covert factors that can make one increasingly susceptible to piling on the pounds.
Stress and Low Mood
A lot of people tend to be emotional eaters, which essentially means that they turn to food in order to cope with stress, anxiety, and depressed mood. Thus, such people tend to put on weight when going through an emotional slump, which further adds to their depression, paving the way for more unhealthy eating.
How well your body utilizes its calorie intake hinges upon your metabolism rate. Given that your metabolism is regulated by the thyroid hormones, it can take a beating if the thyroid gland becomes underactive.
This condition, referred to as hypothyroidism, is associated with insufficient production of thyroid hormones by the thyroid gland and is most prevalent among older women. It is important to get routine screenings from your physician especially if you have a family history of hypothyroidism.
Often times, weight gain can be traced back to fluid retention (edema) within the body, which makes one appear plumper than usual. This kind of pooling of fluid can be restricted to certain parts or it can encompass the entire body in general.
For instance, your feet and ankles tend to appear swollen after standing for long hours. Similarly, women usually feel and appear bloated in the days leading up to their monthly period.
With advancing age, people tend to become more and more sedentary. While there is a gradual dip in the level of physical activity, the dietary intake remains the same, if not more. Thus, as you take in more calories than you burn, the obvious repercussion is weight gain.
Moreover, this age-related inactivity is also conducive to modest amounts of muscle loss. Given that muscles are an efficient calorie burner, the gradual depletion of muscle mass implies that you burn fewer calories.
Insufficient sleep can also render you on the heavier side. Some studies show that people who get less than 7 hours of shut-eye daily are more likely to be overweight than those who get 9 hours of sleep or more.
The exact reason for this tendency remains unspecified, but it’s often theorized that sleep deprivation results in reduced levels of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel full, and higher levels of ghrelin, the hunger-stimulating hormone.
People with long-standing diabetes are particularly vulnerable to weight gain. As they are required to take daily shots of insulin to manage their condition, their blood sugar runs the risk of plummeting dangerously low if they don’t eat at short intervals.
People with type 2 diabetes are insulin resistant and the condition is often accompanied by excess adiposity. Even a modest weight loss may be helpful with blood sugar control. Always follow up with your physician and dietitian when making any changes to your diet.
Recommended Foods for Weight Loss
Here are some foods that help in weight loss.
1. Switch to Green Tea
Green tea has many health benefits over the standard caffeinated beverages as it is found to possess anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidative properties. There is some evidence that green tea may help with weight loss and maintenance.
The health-promoting effects of green tea are mainly attributed to its most abundant catechin, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG works to burn calories throughout the day and helps keep your metabolism rate high.
- For optimum health benefits and to manage weight, drink 2 cups of freshly brewed tea or concentrated green tea every day.
2. Incorporate Flaxseeds in Your Diet
Flaxseeds are great for losing weight fast, thanks to their healthy fat and fiber content.
Dietary fiber is an important weight loss nutrient, and flaxseed has high fiber content. A 2012 study published in Appetite concludes that a drink containing 2.5 g of flaxseed fiber helps to suppress appetite. This makes you feel full in a short time, and this feeling of satiety lasts long.
A 2015 study published in Nutrition suggests that flaxseed, when added to a weight loss diet, helps reduce inflammation markers such as CRP and TNF-a.
Flaxseeds have been recognized as an effective dietary tool for weight reduction in overweight and obese people. They can also improve the lipid and metabolic profiles and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- In your diet, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed. You can sprinkle it in your smoothies, juice, yogurt, cereals, salads, or soups. However, when adding flaxseed to your diet, be sure to drink enough water throughout the day.
3. Partake Avocados
Although avocados are high in fat, they are an excellent addition to any weight loss program. The monounsaturated fats in avocados help satisfy hunger and make you feel full.
Plus, avocados are rich in L-carnitine, an amino acid used in metabolizing fat. They also have good amounts of soluble and insoluble fibers, which are effective for weight loss.
A 2014 study published in Nutrition reports that adding one-half of a fresh avocado to a lunch made overweight people feel more satisfied by 26% and reduced their desire to eat following a meal by 40% over a 3-hour period and by 28% over a 5-hour period.
The studies have also noted that the consumption of avocados with salads helps in weight management – lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference; ideal cardiovascular health; blood glucose control; and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Eat half an avocado every day. The rich texture and flavor of avocado make it a perfect addition to any dip, spread, or salad. Avocados are a rich source of healthy fat and can be consumed in moderation.
4. Add Oatmeal to Your Daily Diet
An oatmeal breakfast is great for those who are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body.
Oatmeal contains beta glucan, a kind of soluble fiber that helps reduce abnormal levels of fat in the blood. It induces greater feelings of fullness and a reduction in hunger.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition suggests that oatmeal provides more fiber than other ready-to-eat breakfast cereals.
Another study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition in the same year reports that regular intake of oats can help reduce body weight and waist-to-hip ratio.
Consuming this fibrous delight helps reduce obesity and abdominal fat and improves your lipid profile and liver function. Moreover, people with metabolic disorders may benefit from consuming oats in the form of a daily supplement, although a doctor’s consult is warranted.
Eat oatmeal for breakfast. Cook it with skim milk and add healthy toppings such as almonds or berries to provide more nutrients and fiber. This can help increase your feelings of fullness.
5. Consuming Ginger Tea can Help
Ginger is another popular fat-burning food, which you should include in your diet.
Ginger supplementation was found to decrease body weight, waist-to-hip ratio, and hip ratio to a significant degree.
There are a number of mechanisms that can be credited for ginger’s ability to modulate obesity, including its potential to increase thermogenesis and lipolysis, suppress lipogenesis, inhibit the absorption of intestinal fat, and improve appetite control.
In addition, ginger helps boost your metabolism and reduce feelings of hunger, thus helping you cut unhealthy calories from your diet. A 2012 study published in Metabolism highlights thermogenesis and the appetite-suppressing properties of ginger. This shows the potential role of ginger in weight management.
Ginger also exhibits anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antidiabetic prowess, making it a useful healing aid for cardiovascular disorders, diabetes mellitus, and gastrointestinal ailments.
- You can drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. Also, include fresh or dry ginger in your regular cooking.
6. Say Yes to Blueberries
Blueberry, a powerful figure-friendly food, should also be included in your diet due to its impressive antioxidant properties. These succulent treats are well endowed with resveratrol, a renowned antioxidant that helps combat free radicals and prevent obesity.
A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that resveratrol helps to convert excess white fat into calorie-burning “beige” fat.
Several experimental animal studies attest to the health-promoting potential of blueberries, which can largely be attributed to their bioactive polyphenolic contents with potent antioxidant activities.
These studies propose that the consumption of these healthful berries may help improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and effectively modulate obesity and adiposity.
- Try to eat about a cup of blueberries every day. You can eat them as a healthy snack or include them in your fruit salad, smoothie, or yogurt.
7. Eat Grapefruit
Grapefruit is a great food that helps reduce weight. In fact, it is one of the best-known “negative-calorie” foods, which means you burn more calories digesting it than the number of calories you take in.
A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism notes that nootkatone, a characteristic constituent of grapefruit, stimulates energy metabolism and prevents diet-induced obesity by activating the enzyme called AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
A 2014 study published in PLOS One demonstrated the beneficial effects of consuming grapefruit juice for curbing weight gain in a high-fat diet. The researchers found that mice who were fed grapefruit juice gained 18% less weight compared with the other group.
- Try to eat more fresh grapefruit with its fleshy white membranes or grapefruit juice with a high amount of pulp. Consuming half of a fresh grapefruit before meals is recommended to maximize its potential benefits.
8. Dark Chocolate can Help You Slim Down
Many chocolates contribute to weight gain, but dark chocolate can actually help you lose weight. Dark chocolate with a high quantity of cocoa is rich in antioxidants that help in weight management. It even revives your metabolism to burn more fat.
Consumption of ≥30 g/day of dark chocolate between 4 to 8 weeks revealed a significant reduction of body weight and BMI as per a 2018 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
A 2014 study published in Phytotherapy Research suggests that dark chocolate holds considerable promise for the modulation of obesity and body weight. Dark chocolate has a mitigating effect on the expression of genes involved in the fatty acid synthesis, which translates to reduced digestion and absorption of fats and carbohydrates and increased satiety.
In addition, the magnesium content of dark chocolate keeps body pain at bay, which makes exercising far more appealing. It can even help lower blood pressure, increase blood circulation, and prevent arteriosclerosis, all side effects of obesity.
However, dark chocolate is a calorie-dense food. Hence, you need to enjoy it in moderation. If you are trying to lose weight, eat an ounce of dark chocolate with a cocoa composition between 70% and 85%, three times a week.
9. Chow Down on Almonds
Almond is another rich superfood that helps you slim down. The fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fat contents of almonds help in losing weight. The fiber in almonds make you feel full and nourished so that you avoid unhealthy foods.
According to a 2013 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate 1.5 ounces of almonds daily for a period of 4 weeks did not gain significant weight.
The vitamin B and zinc in almonds also help stop sugar cravings.
- Eat a handful of dry-roasted or soaked almonds, in place of your regular snack. As almonds contain calories, try not to eat more than 1 ounce or 23 almonds.
10. Cayenne Pepper
Eating cayenne pepper will also help speed up your metabolism, which in turn will help burn fat at a faster rate.
In a 2017 study published in Bioscience Reports, capsaicin offers multiple benefits for metabolic health, especially for weight loss in obese individuals. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper heats up the body, which in turn helps burn calories.
Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition notes that capsaicin causes sustained fat oxidation (the breakdown of fat) during weight maintenance. This clearly highlights the fat-burning property of capsaicin.
Eating a single cayenne pepper can boost your metabolism by up to 25%, and the calorie-burning process can last for up to 3 hours after eating it.
- You can eat cayenne pepper raw, cooked, dried, or in powdered form added in your favorite dishes. You can also add this spice in your detox drinks.
Weight Loss Maintenance
Losing the weight is only half the battle won. It is just as important to keep the weight off thereafter. As it turns out, maintaining your newly acquired physique can present quite a few challenges.
It is fairly common for people to regain almost half of the pounds lost after a year. In fact, a majority of dieters tend to return to their former weight within a matter of 3 to 5 years.
When you are on a weight loss diet, your body makes its own adjustments to adapt to the reduced caloric intake. The brain responds by decreasing the metabolic rate so that the body can latch onto the fat more easily and for longer.
You are also prone to more frequent hunger pangs. By telling you to eat more, your brain attempts to regain the body’s fat cells. On account of the hampered metabolism, you become more susceptible to regaining weight, especially if you resume a more normal diet.
It is essentially for this reason that fad dieting that involves extremely low caloric intake to promote rapid weight loss is discredited by health experts.
Weight Loss Tips
- Diet without exercise will rarely produce sustainable results. The recommended routine is exercising at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week along with strength training twice a week.
- If you are not ready to commit to an exercise routine, start off with a nonrigorous exercise such as walking and using the stairs. It is essential that you keep on the move and sit less, such that you end up burning at least 1,500 to 2,000 calories per week. Regular physical activity helps you burn fat more quickly than a dietary intervention alone.
- One way to avoid overeating is to have healthy small-sized meals at regular intervals.
- Start your day right by eating a well-balanced and healthy breakfast. Skipping it will increase the likelihood of your overeating during the remainder of the day.
- Stay off high-sugar and high-fat foods and go for more fruits and vegetables instead.
- Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages, and meet your fluid needs with water as much as you can.
- Limit your alcohol intake, if you can’t give it up entirely. Order by the glass and take your time to savor the drink by sipping slowly, which will help you be satisfied with minimal amounts.
- When eating out, order only after taking into account the calorie counts and serving sizes of the available dishes. Try not to overindulge in foods that are high in calories due to their fat, sugar, and/or alcohol content.
- Instead of rushing through your meals, it is recommended that you eat slowly and stop when comfortably full.
- Eat only when you feel hungry. Refrain from mindless snacking between meals or when distracted.
- Adopt healthy cooking habits.
- Get your family involved in the journey to better health by trying out new and simple recipes that are healthy yet appetizing enough for everyone to relish.
- Reduce your appetite for second serves and calorie-laden desserts by finishing your meal with a healthy and delicious fruit instead.
- Be mindful of not slipping into old unhealthy habits such as eating to cope with negative moods and interpersonal difficulties. Instead, try other stress-busting strategies such as exercise, activity, or meditation to lift your spirits.
- Avoid getting into yo-yo dieting, which involves losing and regaining weight multiple times. Such extreme fluctuations in weight can result in high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, and high cholesterol.
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