Food (and drink) is a huge part of weight loss. You can exercise all you want or count your calories with precision but if you’re not fueling your body with the right stuff, you’ll have a hard time reaching your weight loss goals. If you’re looking to eat to boost your weight loss try opting for nutrient-dense* foods that are loaded with fibre and protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
* The number of nutrients you get from a portion of food, given the number of calories it contains – higher is better.
Which Foods Boost your Weight Loss (and how do they do it)?
Most people would think that I eat shocking amounts of fruit. I usually have a good two servings with breakfast, probably another two at lunchtime and I snack on various fruits throughout the day. I love the stuff!
In fact, I bet you’re thinking “what about all that sugar?”
Even though fruits contain natural sugar (natural being the key word here) they have a low energy density (the number of calories per gram) and their fibre content helps prevent sugar from being released too quickly into your bloodstream.
While I love a good smoothie (and could easily drink a litre for breakfast) for maximum benefit try eating fruits in their whole form to really make your body work for its nutrition. I love loading my overnight oats with fruit for added zing! Blueberries help to improve the body’s response to insulin and are a powerful antioxidant; raspberries contain a powerful compound called rheosmin that help to boost your metabolism and jump-start weight loss; bananas are packed with potassium and magnesium while helping to counteract the bloat caused salty processed foods.
Leafy greens include spinach (my fave!), kale, collards, Swiss chard and more! They’re low in calories and carbs and packed with fibre. If you’re looking for a boost of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (including calcium – which has been shown to aid in fat burning) then greens are the way to go.
One of the easiest ways to bulk out a meal is to throw some spinach (or other greens) at it. It’s pretty versatile as it doesn’t need cooking, but if you want to it only takes minutes and will often wilt through the heat of your dish.
One of my favourite foods, avocados are packed with monounsaturated fatty acids which help boost fat burning. As well as having high water and fibre content they’re also loaded with vitamins A, C and K, potassium (more than bananas!), folate and magnesium. A 2013 study from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey founds those eating avocado regularly had lower body weight, waist circumference and BMI.
Avocados are great to add into your smoothies, use instead of butter or for guacamole. They can even be a key ingredient in paleo or vegan chocolate cake! As if we need an excuse!
The most common cruciferous vegetables all come from the same family and include the likes of broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. They are high in vitamin C and soluble fibre and are packed with nutrients and phytochemicals.
If you’re not up for cooking these sorts of veg you can grab freezer bags to cook in the microwave or opt for shredded or riced versions which can easily be hidden in sauces or grains (let’s hope my kids never realise!).
Sometimes it seems like every other person is trying to eliminate carbs from their diet – I know I have in the past. (One of the rare times I’ve been proud to say that I failed!) While it’s a noble pursuit to reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates (sugars) you consume, your body will function at its best when you fuel it with complex carbohydrates (starches).
Not all complex carbohydrates are equal (don’t get me started on resistant and non-resistant starches!) and I could give you an entire series of blog posts about all the different options but that’s not why you’re here today. (If it is, let me know in the comments and I’ll get to work on that one.)
Regularly eating whole grains (aim for three servings per day) may give you similar results as taking high blood pressure medications, minus the negative side-effects. Consuming whole grains may also help to reduce the risk of obesity, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
When you’re hitting the supermarket look for unrefined grains such as brown rice and wholegrain pasta as these will offer the most benefit. Whole grain versions cook a little differently than their white counterparts so it’s worth trying a few different cooking methods (food bloggers such as Minimalist Baker are great for tutorials) and experimenting with seasonings if you’re struggling with the taste shift.
Chilli peppers are rich in antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory effects which help to reduce inflammation that underlies fat stores in the body while lowering high blood sugar levels. The capsaicin in chilli peppers can also help promote a feeling of fullness, prevent overeating and increase fat burning. When you’re adding chilli pepper to your food, remember that in terms of taste, a little goes a long way!
Water is one of nature’s best appetite suppressants! Studies have shown that drinking 16oz water before a meal could increase your weight loss to an extra 2.7lbs over 12 weeks – that’s 11.7lbs over the course of a year! If water’s not your jam you can try herbal teas, fruit infusion bottles or even milk. I add lemon juice and ginger to mine.
I don’t need an excuse to drink more coffee but if you do, there are some amazing health benefits associated with the little brown bean. Coffee is one of the single largest sources of antioxidants in the Western diet! The caffeine in your coffee is one of the few substances known to help mobilize fatty acids from your fat tissues and it also boosts your metabolic rate by stimulating thermogenesis, helping you to burn more fat.
Before you head to Starbucks for a venti quad shot extra whip caramel creme frappuccino, the bad news is that straight black coffee gives you the best health benefits – all the extras are just that, extras. Full-fat milk, whipped cream, syrups, chocolate and other flavourings are all energy-dense additives that will counteract any weight loss benefits you’ll see from coffee. If you can’t drink your coffee black your best bet is to opt for non-fat or skimmed milk or plant-based milk (although be wary of the brands used in some coffee shops as they can be laden with added sugar).
This is not a definitive list by far but a few easy ways to use drinks and foods to boost your weight loss. For the best results use these suggestions as part of a balanced diet and with a little exercise. If you want the skinny on my number one way of boosting my own weight loss (hint: it involves coffee) then connect with me now.