Top 10 foods for weight loss
There are no miracle foods when it comes to weight loss – you may have tried the cabbage soup, grapefruit, lemon and maple syrup cleanse or even meal replacement diets. There are however some foods that can be added into your diet to help with weight loss – not only to replace less healthy choices, but also to add unique weight loss benefits.
Oats are known as a ‘slow-releasing’ carbohydrate. This means they release sugar slowly into the bloodstream and avoid that spike you get when eating other carbs like white bread, many breakfast cereals, and cakes and biscuits. Not only do they release sugar slowly, but they’re also high in soluble fibre – this type of fibre helps us to feel fuller for longer. As an added bonus, this type of fibre also absorbs cholesterol and eliminates it from the body – so oats are a must for anyone who has raised cholesterol. If you’re not a fan of porridge, get your oats by adding a couple of tbsp to your usual breakfast cereal, adding to a home-made smoothie or try oat cakes with almond butter as a snack.
Have instead of: Corn flakes, Special K, sugary granola and other cereals or cereal bars
- Leafy greens
low in calories and high in fibre. These two attributes make leafy greens essential for a weight loss diet. Half a bag of kale for example contains just 50 calories. Kale, spinach, cabbage.. whatever you choose be sure not to over cook it as this will reduce the quantity of certain vitamins and minerals. Instead, lightly steam or stir-fry, adding some spices, a little coconut oil or olive oil and fresh herbs to add more flavour.
Have instead of: A big portion of starch like pasta, potatoes or rice. Replace half of your usual starchy foods with green veg.
- Coconut oil
Speaking of oils, coconut should be on your shopping list if you’re watching your weight. It’s now well-accepted that low-fat is not a winner when it comes to weight loss and actually studies have found that people who have more fats like coconut oil, olive oil and even butter may lose more weight than those who follow very low fat diets. Coconut oil may be especially good for weight loss as it contains types of fats called MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides). These fats are said to be used more quickly in the body as a fuel rather than being stored as fat. Use coconut oil for stir-frying, shallow frying, roasting and in desserts and baking.
Have instead of: Sunflower oil
- Full fat Natural yogurt
although many people would pick up the ‘low-fat’ ‘sugar-free’ options when looking to lose weight, studies have found that full-fat dairy products like yogurt are actually the better option for weight loss. This may be because people who eat less fats tend to compensate by eating more carbs and sugar – which can lead to weight gain. But also the calcium in dairy products has been shown to improve the way that fat is handled in the body. What better reason to skip the skimmed milk and low-fat yogurts and get stuck into the full-fat?!
Have instead of: Low-fat fruit yogurts
- Chia seed
This small, black seed (affectionately termed by some as ‘frog spawn’) is not only high in heart-healthy fats, but is also high in fibre, and like oats, expands in liquid helping you to stay feeling fuller for longer. In fact, chia seeds can absorb around 10-12 times their weight in water. They are also relatively low in calories with one serving (30g) providing around 130 calories, yet a huge 11g of fibre. Although there are few studies demonstrating significant effects on weight loss, we know that fibre and protein both help.
Have instead of: raisins on your breakfast cereal
Once demonised for being ‘high in cholesterol’ and being believed to be bad for anyone with heart problems, eggs are now known to be a great choice if you’re wanting to stay a healthy weight. Not only are eggs high in protein and low in carbohydrate, but they’re also fairly low in calories with two boiled or poached eggs providing just 140 calories. Scientific studies have also repeatedly shown that meals containing eggs are more filling and reduce food intake later on in the day – so they make the perfect weight loss breakfast!
Have instead of: Bacon butties or sugary breakfast cereals
If you like your food hot and spicy you’re in luck – chilli contain a substance called capsaicin which may help reduce to appetite and increase fat burn. Although the effects will probably be minimal, every little helps. Try sprinkling chilli on salads, in stir-fries and even add some chilli to your chocolate desserts.
Have instead of: Sugar-packed sauces like tomato ketchup
Although people on diets often avoid nuts thinking they’re high in calories, almonds are one of your best choices as they’re also high in fibre and a big handful (20) almonds only contains around 160 calories. As they’re high in protein and fibre, almonds will fill you up more than a high sugar cereal bar. It’s even been suggested that around 15-20% of the calories from almonds won’t even be absorbed by the body as they’re too difficult to break down – bonus!
Have instead of: Sweet snacks or crisps
- Matcha green tea
Tea may be one of the reasons that China and Japan tend to have lower levels of obesity than other Westernised countries. It’s been shown that certain compounds known as catechins found in all teas, but more so in green tea can speed up metabolism and increase fat and calorie burn. Matcha green tea is the best choice as it’s consumed in powder form rather than loose leaf or tea bags, therefore you obtain all of the antioxidants. In fact a serving of matcha green tea has 12 times the antioxidants of a cup of brewed green tea. You’d have to drink a fair bit to notice a small difference in calorie expenditure but a couple of cups of matcha green tea a day is a good place to start!
Have instead of: One of your daily coffees
not all weight loss foods are fancy or expensive. The humble can of tuna is a great choice – it’s high in protein, low in carbs and naturally low in fat. Try having a tuna salad for lunch to prevent hunger dips mid afternoon, or make sweet potato and tuna fishcakes for dinner as the perfect carb and protein combo.
Have instead of: Red or processed meat (beef, bacon, sausages, meat pies, lamb, duck).
Remember, although these foods are great to add to a healthy diet, the key to weight loss is to use more energy than you take in. So keep a check on portion sizes and complement your healthy diet with regular exercise. And drink plenty of water!
Written by Skillsology’s Ruth Tongue, author of Weekly Wellbeing, which is available at just £29/$39.