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Weight-loss-friendly foods

Top 20 most weight-loss-friendly foods on the planet

Here are 20 weight-loss-friendly foods that can reduce appetite, cravings, and help burn calories.

Weight Management
Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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Top 20 most weight-loss-friendly foods on the planet
Last updated on February 5, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on August 22, 2023.

Not all calories are created equal. Foods go through different metabolic pathways, affecting hunger, hormones, and calorie burn.

Top 20 most weight-loss-friendly foods on the planet

According to scientific research, the following 20 foods are considered the most beneficial for weight loss.

1. Whole eggs

Whole eggs, once avoided due to cholesterol concerns, are now embraced again.

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While excessive egg consumption might spike “bad” LDL cholesterol in some, they’re a top pick for those aiming to shed pounds. They’re rich in protein and fat, making them filling.

A study involving 30 overweight women revealed that those who had eggs for breakfast felt fuller and ate less over the next 36 hours compared to those who had bagels.

Another study over eight weeks observed that including eggs in breakfast during a calorie-restricted diet led to more weight loss than bagels did.

Why eggs might be the ultimate weight management food
Suggested read: Why eggs might be the ultimate weight management food

Furthermore, eggs are packed with essential nutrients. Notably, the yolk houses almost all of its nutritional content.

Summary: Eating eggs can help suppress appetite and promote weight loss due to their filling and nutrient-dense properties, especially when compared to refined carbs like bagels.

2. Leafy greens

Leafy greens encompass foods like kale, spinach, collards, swiss chards, and others.

These veggies are champions for weight loss diets due to their low calories and carbohydrate content, paired with a rich fiber presence.

Incorporating leafy greens into meals boosts their bulk without piling on the calories. Research consistently indicates that low-energy-density foods and meals encourage reduced calorie consumption.

Additionally, leafy greens are nutrient powerhouses, teeming with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals such as calcium. Interestingly, calcium has been linked to enhanced fat burning in certain studies.

Summary: Leafy greens are a stellar choice for weight loss. Their low-calorie yet fiber-rich composition ensures sustained fullness.

3. Salmon

Salmon and other fatty fish stand out for their health benefits, offering a feeling of fullness with minimal calories.

Packed with premium protein, beneficial fats, and essential nutrients, salmon is a diet superstar.

11 impressive health benefits of salmon
Suggested read: 11 impressive health benefits of salmon

One notable nutrient in fish and seafood is iodine. Proper thyroid functionality, pivotal for maintaining an efficient metabolism, depends on this element. Many individuals, however, don’t meet their iodine requirements.

Omega-3 fatty acids, abundant in salmon, are known to diminish inflammation, a factor often linked to obesity and metabolic disorders.

Other fatty fish such as mackerel, trout, sardines, and herring are also commendable choices.

Summary: Rich in protein and omega-3s, salmon is a prime option for those pursuing a health-focused weight loss regimen.

4. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables encompass foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.

They excel in fiber content, which can promote a feeling of fullness.

Interestingly, these veggies offer a respectable protein amount. While they don’t rival the protein levels in animal products or legumes, they outshine many other vegetables.

Their blend of protein, ample fiber, and low-caloric density positions cruciferous vegetables as ideal additions to include in your meals if you need to lose weight.

Beyond weight loss, they are nutrient-dense and known to harbor compounds that combat cancer.

Summary: Cruciferous veggies stand out for their calorie-friendly, fiber-rich profile. Integrating them can bolster weight loss efforts and amplify overall health benefits.

5. Lean beef and chicken breast

Meat has often been misunderstood.

While processed meats are indeed linked to health concerns, unprocessed red meat doesn’t have the same associations. In fact, comprehensive studies indicate that unprocessed red meat doesn’t heighten the risk of heart disease or diabetes. Furthermore, for men, any link between red meat and cancer is extremely tenuous, and for women, it’s nonexistent.

At its core, meat is advantageous for weight loss due to its high protein content. Protein is the king of satiety, and a diet rich in it can help you burn an additional 80-100 calories daily. Research has found that upping protein to 25% of your caloric intake can slash cravings by 60%, diminish the want for late-night munching by half, and lead to a weight reduction of nearly one pound weekly.

Depending on your dietary regimen, the type of meat you choose can differ. If you’re following a low-carb diet, fattier meats are acceptable. But for those on a diet with moderate to high carbs, leaner meat choices are preferable.

Summary: Incorporating unprocessed lean meat in your diet can amplify protein intake, assisting in easier fat loss. It’s a nutritious alternative that can replace some dietary carbs or fats.

6. Boiled potatoes

White potatoes have, for some reason, become less popular.

But they’re actually fantastic foods for both weight loss and overall health.

They pack a wide array of nutrients, covering nearly everything your body requires.

There are even tales of individuals surviving solely on potatoes for long durations.

Notably, they’re rich in potassium, essential for controlling blood pressure, and a nutrient many are deficient in.

When it comes to feeling full after eating, white boiled potatoes top the Satiety Index, outperforming all other tested foods. This means when you consume boiled white potatoes, you’ll feel satiated and likely consume less afterward.

An interesting fact is when you let boiled potatoes cool down, they produce resistant starch, which behaves like fiber and has multiple health benefits, including aiding weight loss.

Other root veggies like sweet potatoes and turnips are also fantastic choices.

Summary: Boiled potatoes can significantly curb your hunger, potentially decreasing your calorie intake later. They’re not only nutritious but also a great addition to a weight-loss diet.

7. Tuna

Tuna stands out as a low-calorie yet protein-rich food.

Being a lean fish, its fat content is minimal.

This makes tuna a favorite among those in the fitness community, especially bodybuilders and models on a cutting phase. It facilitates a boost in protein consumption without a significant increase in calories or fat.

If your goal is to prioritize protein, opt for tuna that’s canned in water rather than oil.

Summary: Tuna offers a lean and potent protein source. When aiming for weight loss through a calorie-controlled diet, substituting certain macronutrients with protein, such as from tuna, can be beneficial.

8. Beans and legumes

Beans and various legumes stand out as potent tools in your weight loss arsenal.

Examples of these beneficial legumes include lentils, black beans, kidney beans, and many others.

What makes them especially effective for weight management are their high protein and fiber content. Both of these nutrients are known to enhance feelings of fullness, reducing overall food intake.

Moreover, they often have resistant starch, which has multiple health benefits.

However, a noteworthy point is that some individuals might experience digestive discomfort from legumes. This is why it’s crucial to prepare and cook them appropriately to minimize potential digestive issues.

Summary: Beans and legumes serve as excellent sources of protein and fiber, aiding in satiety. Their inclusion in a weight loss diet can help reduce overall calorie consumption, but it’s vital to prepare them correctly to ensure they’re easily digestible.

9. Soups

Liquid-based foods, like soups, can be an effective method to decrease overall calorie intake. When you consume food in liquid form, it often leads to enhanced feelings of satiety compared to when the same food ingredients are consumed in solid form.

The primary reason for this effect is the increased volume that liquids provide. This increased volume can help stretch the stomach, signaling the brain that you’re full and, consequently, reducing overall calorie consumption.

Many studies have indicated that when individuals consume soup as a starter or as a main course, they end up eating fewer calories throughout the meal.

A strategic approach is to focus on broths or clear soups which have a lower energy density. However, caution is advised when considering creamy soups or those that are rich in coconut milk or other high-fat ingredients, as they can quickly ramp up the calorie content.

Summary: Incorporating soups into your diet can be a beneficial strategy for weight loss. They are particularly effective in promoting feelings of fullness and reducing overall food intake. Opt for soups that are not heavy in fats to maximize the weight loss benefits.

10. Cottage cheese

Dairy products tend to be high in protein, and cottage cheese is no exception. It’s especially popular among dieters and fitness enthusiasts because of its high protein content and low-calorie count.

One of the great aspects of cottage cheese is its satiating nature. The protein in cottage cheese can help you feel full with a relatively low amount of calories.

In addition, it contains a good amount of calcium which can aid in the fat-burning process.

Though many dairy products are high in fat, there are plenty of low-fat and non-fat versions of cottage cheese available. Incorporating this into your diet can be a game-changer for those looking to lose weight.

Dairy products are also high in calcium, which may aid fat burning.

Other low-fat, high-protein dairy products include Greek yogurt and skyr.

Summary: Cottage cheese is rich in protein and can be very filling, making it an ideal food for those looking to lose weight. Opting for low-fat or non-fat versions can further reduce calorie intake.

11. Avocados

Avocados are a unique fruit.

While most fruits are high in carbs, avocados contain healthy fats.

They’re exceptionally high in monounsaturated oleic acid, the same type of fat found in olive oil.

Despite being mostly fat, avocados also contain a lot of water and fiber, making them less energy-dense than you may think.

Moreover, they’re a perfect addition to vegetable salads, as studies show that their fat content can increase carotenoid antioxidant absorption from the vegetables 2.6- to 15-fold.

They also contain many essential nutrients, including fiber and potassium.

Summary: When trying to lose weight, avocados are a great source of healthy fats. Just remember to consume them in moderation.

12. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is trendy in the natural health community.

It’s often used in condiments like dressings or vinaigrettes; some people even dilute it in water and drink it.

Several human-based studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can be useful for weight loss.

Taking vinegar at the same time as a high-carb meal can increase feelings of fullness and make people eat 200–275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.

One 12-week study in obese individuals also showed that 15 or 30 ml of vinegar per day caused weight loss of 2.6–3.7 pounds or 1.2–1.7 kilograms.

Vinegar has also been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes after meals, which may have various beneficial health effects in the long term.

Summary: Adding apple cider vinegar to your salad may help you feel fuller, which could lead to weight loss.

13. Nuts

Despite being high in fat, nuts are not as fattening as you would expect.

They’re an excellent snack, containing balanced amounts of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Studies have shown that nuts can improve metabolic health and promote weight loss.

Moreover, population studies have shown that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner than those who don’t.

It’s important to be mindful of the high-calorie content in nuts and avoid excessive consumption if prone to binge eating.

Summary: Nuts, when consumed in moderation, can be a healthy addition to a weight loss diet.

14. Whole grains

Though cereal grains have received a bad reputation recently, some types are healthy.

This includes some whole grains loaded with fiber and contain a decent amount of protein.

Notable examples include oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

Oats are loaded with beta-glucans, soluble fibers that have been shown to increase satiety and improve metabolic health.

Both brown and white rice can contain significant amounts of resistant starch, particularly if cooked and then allowed to cool afterward.

Remember that refined grains are not a healthy choice, and sometimes foods with “whole grains” on the label are highly processed junk foods that are both harmful and fattening.

If you’re on a very low-carb diet, you’ll want to avoid grains, which are high in carbs.

But nothing is wrong with eating whole grains if you can tolerate them.

Summary: Avoid refined grains when trying to lose weight. Opt for whole grains as they are higher in fiber and nutrients.

15. Chili pepper

Including chili peppers in your diet might aid in shedding those extra pounds.

These peppers have capsaicin, an element found to curb hunger and boost the fat-burning process based on certain research.

Capsaicin is so popular for its benefits that it’s often found in weight loss pills and many over-the-counter weight loss products.

Research revealed that having 1 gram of red chili pepper can lessen hunger and enhance fat burning for those not used to spicy food.

But, for spice lovers, there seems to be no notable impact, suggesting that regular consumption can lead to building a tolerance.

Summary: Eating spicy foods containing chili peppers can temporarily reduce appetite and increase fat burning. However, regular consumption may lead to tolerance.

16. Fruit

Fruit is generally considered good for health by most experts.

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Suggested read: 44 healthy low-carb foods that taste incredible

Several studies indicate that individuals who consume more fruit (along with vegetables) usually lead healthier lives compared to those who don’t.

It’s important to note that just because two things happen together doesn’t mean one causes the other, so these studies aren’t definitive proof. But, fruits have qualities that support weight loss.

Even with natural sugars present, fruits are low in calories and require time to eat. Their fiber slows down the rapid release of sugar into the blood.

Those on a strict low-carb, ketogenic diet or with certain intolerances might need to limit or avoid fruit.

For the majority, fruits can be a tasty and beneficial part of a diet aimed at weight loss.

Summary: Although fruits contain sugar, they can be part of a weight loss diet. They are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients that slow blood sugar spikes after meals.

17. Grapefruit

Grapefruit stands out when discussing fruits and weight management. Research has directly studied its impact on weight.

A study spanning 12 weeks with 91 overweight participants found that consuming half a grapefruit before meals resulted in an average weight loss of 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg).

Those who ate grapefruit also showed improved insulin sensitivity, which can help ward off certain long-term health issues.

So, enjoying half a grapefruit about 30 minutes before a meal can potentially help you feel fuller and reduce your calorie intake.

Summary: Research suggests that consuming grapefruit before meals can help reduce calorie intake and suppress appetite, making it a worthwhile option for weight loss.

18. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are packed with nutrients and are among the world’s healthiest foods.

An ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds has 12 grams of carbs. However, out of these, 11 grams are pure fiber.

This high fiber content classifies chia seeds as low-carb-friendly and places them among the top fiber-rich foods globally.

Thanks to this fiber, chia seeds can soak up water, up to 11–12 times their weight, and form a gel-like consistency, making you feel full.

While some research suggests chia seeds can help curb hunger, their impact on weight loss isn’t definitive.

Still, considering their nutritional value, incorporating chia seeds into a weight loss plan seems logical.

Summary: Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, which can help with weight loss by keeping you full and reducing appetite.

19. Coconut oil

All fats aren’t the same. Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

These fatty acids not only help you feel full but also increase calorie burn.

Interestingly, two separate studies, one with women and another with men, found that coconut oil helped reduce belly fat.

However, remember that coconut oil still has calories. It’s not advisable to just add it to your meals without adjusting elsewhere.

The key isn’t to just add coconut oil but to swap out some of your regular cooking oils for it.

Yet, it’s important to note that MCT oil, a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides, tends to be more filling than coconut oil.

It’s also worth pointing out the benefits of extra virgin olive oil, as it’s among the healthiest fats available.

Suggested read: 50 foods that are super healthy

Summary: Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that may increase satiety after meals. MCT oil supplements are even more effective.

20. The Benefits of Full-fat Yogurt

Yogurt stands out as a top dairy choice.

Some yogurts are rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can enhance gut health.

A well-functioning gut may shield you from inflammation and reduce leptin resistance, a key factor in obesity.

It’s crucial to pick yogurts that boast live, active cultures, as many others lack significant probiotics.

Opt for full-fat versions too. Research indicates that full-fat dairy, as opposed to low-fat, is linked to a lower risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the long run.

Beware of low-fat yogurt: it often contains added sugars, making it less healthy.

Summary: Consider adding probiotic yogurt to your weight loss diet to improve digestive health. Avoid products with added sugar.

Summary

Finding nutritious foods to support a weight loss journey isn’t difficult.

Primarily, focus on whole foods like fish, lean meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

A few processed items, like probiotic yogurt, extra-virgin olive oil, and oatmeal, are also great additions.

Coupled with balanced portions and consistent exercise, integrating these wholesome foods can lead to successful weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

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