Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries (and more varieties) are an ideal weight-loss food because they’re relatively low in calories, pack a nutrient-dense punch, and add tons of flavor to otherwise lackluster meals. “Loaded with fiber and antioxidants, these little fruits are great on cereal, yogurt, smoothies, salads, or alone as a snack,” Zeratsky adds. Fruit gets a bad rap when it comes to weight loss because of their natural sugar, but this actually helps relieve the monotony of a diet program. Berries satisfy your sugar cravings without destroying your progress because they’re filling, and can effectively curb your overal calorie intake by slowing digestion and the absorption of fructose.
Drink a whole cool glass of tea right before dinner. Drinking one glass of tea before dinner fills up part of your stomach, which means that you'll be less hungry when it comes to food. (Of course, eating a healthy dinner is still important.) Cool tea is important, too. Cold tea needs to be heated up by the body in order to be metabolized; this expends extra calories, meaning more weight loss.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 40 foods that have been proven to jumpstart weight loss and will help you get to your ideal physique. To jumpstart your weight loss, we’ve selected some nutritious eats, like salsa, that are lower-calorie substitutes for less healthy choices (we’re looking at you, ketchup). And others, such as watermelon, contain certain compounds that have been scientifically proven to reduce the size of your waist and help reduce body fat. Scroll down below for a list of a few dozen weight-loss wonders, and get even more health-conscious inspiration from this list of the 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen!
“To lose weight you should primarily eat whole foods, but don’t eliminate your favorites. Consistently eating nutrient-dense food on a day-to-day basis will improve the chances of upregulating metabolism and of eliminating nutritional deficiencies. That may mean tracking what you eat in some way at first, but it doesn’t mean ruling out entire food groups or foods you love. Consistent quality nutrition while learning to enjoy treats in moderation will set you up for long-term sustainable success. — Victoria Viola, PN Certified Nutrition Coach, NSCA CPT, Co-Founder, Excelerate Wellness, LLC
Although adding an exercise routine to your diet overhaul will help you burn fat more quickly than a dietary intervention alone, one JAMA study found that obese patients who change their diets first and begin exercising six months after their diet change will lose the same amount of weight after 12 months as those participants who eat healthier and exercised over the course of the whole year. In short: don’t put off your weight loss goals just because you don’t want to exercise. Change your diet today, exercise later, and you can still lose weight.
“Use a VersaClimber or take a VersaClimber class. These machines are still not that common, but in my opinion they are far more effective for weight loss than other forms of cardio. They require you to use a large portion of your muscles and it’s functionally better for you than other forms of cardio like spinning. Everyone is talking about Rise Nation in LA at the moment as they are the first dedicated VersaClimbing studio. There’s no harder cardio workout I have tried. To lose fat you have to put in the work. — Dan Roberts, celebrity trainer and creator of Methodology X
Starchy veggies (like potatoes) and processed whole grains (like whole-wheat bread) are foods I’d normally recommend eating in moderation, since they provide plenty of nutrients, fiber, and healthy carbs. However, high-carb foods aren’t your best friend when you’re looking to drop water weight. Essentially, when your body stores excess carbs, it stores them with water. So replacing carb-heavy foods with non-starchy veggies that still provide filling fiber without as much water retention is the way to go. For a week before your event, you can swap out the starchy carbs for more non-starchy vegetables to lose some water weight. (These are 10 things experts wish you knew about water weight.)
Also known as yam or yambean, this Mexican turnip is a great source of fiber, says Dr. Jaime Schehr, a registered dietitian in New York City. “This plant is great for weight loss due to its high fiber to sugar ratio (a whopping 32g of fiber per medium jimaca—that’s almost an entire day’s worth). They are also a good source of potassium, an essential mineral in maintaining water balance in our body.”
Good news, wine drinkers. Thanks to resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grape skin, drinking red wine in moderation can be part of a healthy diet. Some studies suggest that people who drink wine have smaller waists and less abdominal fat than those who drink mainly liquor. And having one glass of red wine can increase your body's calorie burn for up to 90 minutes afterwards. The antioxidants in wine might even help your body prevent cancer and improve heart health. Just be sure to stick to no more than a glass a day—the calories can add up fast.
Of course, ladies also lose abdominal weight quickly -- they just tend to have less of it. "Women with excess fat around the middle will lose it more or less as readily as men," says upwave review-board member David Katz, MD, MPH, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine. "Men are more prone to gain weight around the middle."
Spirulina is a high-protein seaweed supplement that’s typically dried and sold in powdered form. The dried stuff is about 60 percent protein, and, like quinoa, it’s a complete protein, meaning it can be converted directly into muscle in the body and is thus a great weight loss tool. A tablespoon of the blue-green algae delivers 8 grams of metabolism-boosting protein for just 43 calories, plus half a day’s allotment of vitamin B12, which in and of itself can give you more energy and boost your metabolism. Try tossing some spirulina into a smoothie and watching the pounds melt off. For more skinny smoothie ideas, check out this list of 56 Smoothies for Weight Loss!
“At a tiny 20 calories for every 3 cups, arugula provides an excellent source of folate, vitamins A and C, and more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin K needs,” says Rey. Not only is it a great weight-loss food, arugula can also help reduce your risk of bone fractures this summer: A recent Framingham Heart study found that people who consumed approximately 250 micrograms per day of vitamin K had a 35-percent lower risk of hip fractures compared to those who consumed just 50 micrograms per day, says Rey.
Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed. But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There are some clues that green tea may help destroy cancer cells, but that research is still in its early stages, so you shouldn’t count on green tea to prevent cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute's web site says it "does not recommend for or against the use of tea to reduce the risk of any type of cancer."
“I tell all of my celebrity and professional-athlete clients to get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep per night. Everyone is overly focused on food, water and exercise, all of which are extremely imperative to weight loss and optimal health. However, without proper sleep, all of these the other factors are null and void. When you don’t get enough sleep, levels of the hormone leptin drop, which increases appetite. This surge in appetite makes comfort food more appealing, which can derail weight loss efforts.” — Jay Cardiello, celebrity fitness and nutrition expert
Both Weight Watchers and Noom provide lots of guidance. If you’re more of a self-starter — someone who just needs to be pointed in the right direction — The Mayo Clinic Diet provides pure resources. Picking up the entertaining, densely informative book is the only associated cost. You can also get the app for about half the cost of WW Mobile, but we didn’t find it as useful.