1. Salad Greens: Start your supper with a simple salad: it’s low in calories and research out of Penn State shows that eating a first-course salad can cut your overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12 percent. Plus, a vegetable-packed salad delivers fiber, a must-have when you’re dieting. Fiber helps you stay satisfied longer—and, according to one study, upping your fiber intake may help prevent extra pounds from creeping on and even promote weight loss.
2. Lean Protein: Beef, chicken, pork, fish, tofu or beans it doesn’t matter which you pick all are protein rich. Gram for gram, protein will keep you feeling fuller longer compared to carbohydrates and fat (read: help keep those midnight snack attacks at bay). And don’t forget about low-fat dairy: recent research, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that the protein in dairy (called whey protein) may help ward off weight gain and help build lean body mass.
3. Whole Grains: You probably already know that for overall health you should be making at least half of your grains whole grains. But for dieters, choosing whole grains—such as brown rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread—100 percent of the time may give you an extra edge, says a recent study. When researchers put volunteers on a three-month weight-loss program and instructed one group to eat only whole grains for their grain servings and the other group to choose only refined grains (and avoid whole grains entirely), the whole-grain eaters melted significantly more abdominal fat. While the fiber in whole grains may deserve some of the credit, researchers note that whole grains are rich in magnesium, a mineral instrumental in regulating fat metabolism.
4. Dessert: Though this isn’t exactly an ingredient, what dieter doesn’t want to hear that it may be easier to stick to your diet if it includes a little sweet treat? Well, it’s true. According to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, banning sugary foods could lead to overeating. One reason may be that removing access to sweet foods stimulates the release of a molecule in your brain called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), produced when you’re afraid, anxious or stressed, says Pietro Cottone, Ph.D., lead study author. And increased stress levels may lower your motivation to eat more nutritious foods, making it more likely that you’ll binge on junk food.
Some of the best diet foods are delicious too!
Want to boost your efforts to lose weight? Of course the foundation for successful weight loss is eating well and exercising, but if you want to power up your efforts, check out this diet cheat sheet of foods that do a little of the work for you. Research shows that these 8 secret-weapon foods can help you lose weight.