If you're trying to lose weight, you're probably counting calories, reducing your fat intake and watching your portion sizes. What you eat however, is as important as how much you eat. Filling up on low-calorie processed snacks and other prepared foods might keep you within your calorie guidelines for the day, but your body and your metabolism struggle to function properly fueled by nutrient-poor foods. These 10 super weight loss foods can help you reach your goals and give your body the quality fuel it needs.
The chemical properties of grapefruit are believed to help reduce insulin levels in the body. The smaller the spike in your blood sugar after eating, the more efficiently your body uses the food you've eaten for energy, thus reducing the unused amount that's then stored in the body as fat.
Additionally, the pulp found in grapefruit provides your body with fiber, while the high water content helps keep your body hydrated to support your metabolism. The benefits don't stop there. Grapefruit is also high in potassium and vitamin C and pink varieties contain lycopene, the heart healthy antioxidant (cross link) best known for giving tomatoes their color. Try adding half a grapefruit to your breakfast or making it your late-morning snack to get your metabolism fired up for the day.
Although they're high in calories, small amounts of raw or dry-roasted nuts are low in sugar, good sources of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and contain protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Almonds are best known for vitamin E and omega-3 essential fatty acids (cross link), while almonds are favored for being a natural source of selenium.
The fat and fiber in a serving of nuts helps fill you up and satisfy your taste buds, which makes them one of the best options for an afternoon snack when your energy may be flagging. Aim to work one to two servings of nuts into your day, but stay mindful of your overall fat and calorie intake. Toss a handful of nuts into oatmeal, salads or eat them on their own with a piece of fruit.
What's not to like about dark, leafy greens? Broccoli, kale, spinach, collard and other greens, and swiss chard are rich in iron and calcium and contain a host of antioxidants like vitamins A, B9 (folate) and C. Not only that, but dark leafy greens are high in fiber and low in calories, so you can eat them until you feel full and not blow your calories for the day. Steam your greens or sauté them with garlic and a tablespoon of olive oil and serve them as a side dish, eat them raw in salads or add them to soups.
Orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin are super foods that fill you up while nourishing your body. Full of vitamin A, potassium and carotenoids, each of these super foods is also high in fiber.
Try baking a sweet potato in the oven and eating it, skin and all. Not only does the baking bring out its inherent sweetness, but you may find that sweetness eliminates your desire to add butter, salt or sour cream.
Carotenoids work to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can help promote weight loss, making sweet potatoes a perfect addition to your lunch or dinner. Spritz sweet potato wedges or carrots with olive oil, season to taste and roast at high heat for a colorful side dish that's good for you and great for your waist line.
Beans, soybeans, peas and lentils are all excellent sources of protein and fiber. High fiber diets are associated with reduced risk for developing diabetes, heart disease and certain kinds of cancer. But it's the fiber content that's going to help you shed those extra pounds.
Buy dried legumes whenever possible and soak them according to the package directions to get the most benefit. If you're cooking with canned legumes, read the labels to make sure you're not loading up on sugar and salt. Add them to soups and stews or mix them with brown rice or other whole grains.
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and cranberries are all packed with antioxidants and flavor and add natural sweetness to just about any meal. Rich in zinc and vitamin C, berries can be added to oatmeal, smoothies and even salads.
Try adding a handful of blueberries or cranberries to a spinach salad. Toss in handful of walnuts and dress with your favorite low-calorie dressing and you've got a nutrient dense lunch that will fuel your body and your weight loss goals.
The American Heart Association recommends two to three servings of fish per week. Lower in calories, cholesterol and saturated fats than other meats, it's hard to find a fish that's bad for you. High in protein, coldwater fishes in particular are good sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids that contribute to brain and neuron function. Choose fresh salmon and tuna for the best benefit and steam or grill your fish instead of frying.
Your body burns the energy from whole grains slowly, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable so fewer carbohydrates are stored as fat. Not only that, but whole grains are high in fiber and grains like quinoa are also high in protein. Fiber and protein work together to help you feel fuller longer while at the same time, aiding your body in moving LDL or bad cholesterol out of your blood and into the liver for elimination.
Get creative with whole grains-there's more to this food group than oatmeal and brown rice, although these long-time favorites are favorites for a reason. Cook bulgur wheat or quinoa and mix with chopped tomatoes, onions, parsley, mint, lemon juice and olive oil for tabouleh salad. Try making whole grains the main component of one or two meals a week and mix with legumes or stir-fried vegetables for an entire meal of super weight loss foods.
Recent studies are showing that calcium plays a strong role in how the body burns fat and it's believed that the more calcium that's stored in a fat cell, the more fat that cell is able to burn. While similar findings were reported in people who got most of their calcium from supplements, the best results were found in people who consumed higher amounts of low-fat dairy products. Choose nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese and aim for three servings a day. Frozen yogurt doesn't count.
Broth-based soups aren't just easy to make, they're easy to fill with a variety of super foods that are high in flavor and low in calories. The high water content helps keep you hydrated (just watch the sodium) and many people find comfort in its warmth.
When it comes to making soup, you're only limited by your imagination. Make your own stock or use a high-quality, low sodium stock. Add your favorite vegetables, especially leafy greens like kale or escarole, and simmer with beans or lentils or try mixing in cooked whole grains like barley or brown rice at the end.
Is loading up your plate with superfoods doing your diet more harm than good?
Within the last 10 years there has been an increasing interest in preventive health foods, organic food choices, and proactive health practices.
In an era where the spinach has e.coli and the fish are laced with mercury, it's hard to be a health food. But walnuts may just be the new superfood on the horizon. It seems that walnuts - that same food you chop up and put into your fattening brownies - can actually help prevent heart disease.