“The American Heart Association recommends that men eat less than 36 grams of added sugar and that women consume less than 24 grams. However, for optimal weight loss, I tell my male clients to consume less than 20 grams of sugar per day and I tell the women to consume less than 15 grams.The easiest way to cut back on the sweet stuff is by consuming less sugary drinks and dressings. Cut the sugar, lose the fat, regain your health and life.” — Dr. Sean M. Wells, DPT, PT, OCS, ATC/L, CSCS
A squeeze of lemon adds instant freshness to everything from drinks to salads to fish without additional calories, making it an ideal way to flavor food if you're watching your weight. Plus, the pectin fiber in lemons can help fill you up and fight off hunger cravings. And while it hasn't been scientifically proven, some experts believe that the citrus fruit can aid in weight loss, as well.
Just like electrolyte balance needs to be maintained, the amount of sodium in our body also needs to be regulated to keep our blood pressure at just the right spot: Too high and it can increase our risk for heart disease, too low and we can feel faint since oxygen isn’t getting to our cells quickly enough. So while there is talk about low-sodium diets, which are necessary for some, having too little sodium isn’t good either. During a crash diet, sodium levels in the body can plummet, which can make you tired, light-headed, and even cause fainting spells.
Nighttime snacking, for most of us, is a habit that can undermine weight loss success. That's because the calories we eat after dinner tend to be empty ones, from chips, cookies, etc. Brushing your teeth after supper will help you make dinner the last meal of the day. If you need a little something at night, try to satisfy the urge with few calories -- have a stick of gum, one piece of hard candy, or a cup of hot tea).
Coconut oil is having a moment right now: it can be used as a butter or olive oil substitute in everything from baked goods to salad dressing, and can even be used as an alternative to milk in lattes (yes, really). Sass is a fan of the heart-healthy oil whipped into smoothies, and you can also use it to sauté veggies, sear fish, or as an olive oil replacement in soups and stews. (It's also a must-add to your beauty routine, and makes a wonderful natural moisturizer for skin and hair.)
There’s a right and wrong way to brew green tea. When brewing green tea, take a little extra care, as boiling water is bad for the precious catechins (tea’s healthy chemicals). Do bring your water to a boil, but let it rest for about ten minutes. Then, pour the water over the tea and brew for about one minute before serving. Of course, the brew time can be made shorter or longer, depending on your taste.
Studies led by Dr. Barbara Rolls at Pennsylvania State University as well as those of Drs. James Barnard and Christian Roberts at UCLA, who are following people attending the Pritikin Longevity Center, are particularly enlightening. They have documented that one of the best ways of reducing calorie intake without triggering increased hunger is to reduce the calorie density of the foods consumed. Put simply, a bowl of pasta with veggies and marinara can fill us up just as well as a bowl of pasta with cheesy Alfredo, but for less than half the calorie cost.
Speaking of things you find in the sea, oysters have also been shown to contribute to weight loss thanks to their impressive zinc content. One study found that obese people who consumed 30 milligrams of zinc per day—the equivalent of just six raw oysters—had lower BMIs, weighed less, and showed improvements in blood cholesterol levels. If oysters aren’t your thing, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and mushrooms are also excellent sources of zinc.
Milk may be the perfect drink to pair with your meal if you're looking to get leaner, according to a study out of Ireland in 2017. Eating a greater amount of dairy was found to be associated with a lower BMI, less body fat and a smaller waistline—particularly when it came to milk and yogurt. Beyond weight loss, researchers uncovered some surprising health benefits. Milk drinking was associated with improved blood pressure, lower biomarkers of inflammation, better insulin sensitivity and higher levels of a protein called adiponectin, which helps regulate blood sugar and break down fats. What's more, if you're running low on calcium, consuming more of the bone-strengthening mineral may also help you burn belly fat. Skip the chocolate milk and flavored lattes to cut back on added sugars.
Delicious, full of antioxidants, AND they help you to lose weight? Tomatoes are definitely among our favourite fat-fighting foods. Tomatoes have been found to reduce inflammation and water retention in the body, as well as reversing leptin resistance. Leptin is a type of protein which helps to regulate metabolic rate and appetite, so our bodies rely on it to shed those extra pounds.
Kimchi is a spicy Korean condiment that's made with fermented cabbage and is a great source of vitamins A, B, and C. Because it's fermented (like sauerkraut), kimchi contains tons of those good probiotics that aid the body in digestion. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science found that maintaining healthy bacteria in your gut can improve gut lining, which in turn could help reduce fat mass and inflammation.
Similar to the CICO diet, the Body Reset has gained popularity via social media, and there isn’t any definitive research that suggests the approach is safe and effective. Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak created the plan, which is essentially a three-phase liquid diet comprised of smoothies and moderate exercise. While U.S. News notes you may lose weight on the diet, it may be tough to stick with, and isn’t safe for people with diabetes and heart disease. (38)
Yes, nuts are high in calories, but they are also a great source of protein, fiber, and the “good” (monounsaturated) fat -- all of which can help in weight loss. A small handful (10-to-12 nuts) of walnuts or almonds can actually help you “lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes,” says Somer. Try some in your salad, with a piece of fruit, or sprinkled in your cereal – oatmeal, of course.
So while green tea might not be the lean fat-burning machine it's cracked up to be, that doesn't mean it can't be beneficial for weight loss. After all, unsweetened green tea is one of the smartest beverage picks around. It’s free of calories, fat, and sugar—definitely much better than a 140-calorie can of soda. And since it's common to confuse thirst for hunger, sipping some green tea can help keep food cravings at bay.
“This sweet tropical fruit is the perfect ingredient for summer smoothies and juices,” says Beth Aldrich, a certified holistic health and nutrition counselor, and author of the book Real Moms Love to Eat. “It contains the proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which aids in the digestion of protein and blood clot formation. As an anti-inflammatory super food, pineapple can help reduce swelling and in turn, you'll have a flatter belly.”
“Diet and exercise are a marriage that should never divorce,” said Giancoli, noting that the benefits of exercise aren’t restricted to the sheer number of calories you burn during thirty minutes on a treadmill. (Need one of those, by the way? We have some favorites.) Instead, research shows that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, proving that “muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss.”
Know your stuff. According to a study by Abdul Dulloo, from the Institute of Physiology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, the plant compound EGCG found in green tea, plus caffeine, increases thermogenesis by 84 percent. Thermogenesis is the generation of body heat that occurs as a result of normal digestion, absorption, and metabolization of food. Green tea also increases your levels of norepinephrine, which prepares your body to burn fat for the "fight or flight" response. Knowledge is power, people! It's also motivation!
Another frontrunner on the U.S. News and World Report 2016 list (it came in at number two in the weight loss category), the HMR Weight Management program is used in over 200 medical facilities around the U.S. Dieters embark on two phases, the first centered around HMR's products (meals, shakes, snacks) and the second transitioning towards a sustainable plan emphasizing fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
It’s just as important and beneficial (if not more so) to focus on diet quality rather than quantity, says a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Focus on real foods rather than a strict number of calories and you’re more likely to stay slim over the long term. Shapiro recommends these shedding superfoods, in particular:
Notes: Chop the sweet potatoes and halve the Brussels sprouts, and place on a sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast at 450°F (230°C) until tender, about 15 minutes. Brush the chicken with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until marked and no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side.
“There are many foods that aid weight loss, but one that I often recommend to my clients and eat myself is grapefruit. Researchers at Scripps Clinic in San Diego found that when obese people ate half a grapefruit before each meal, they dropped an average of 3.5 pounds over 12 weeks. Apparently, the tangy fruit can lower insulin, a fat-storage hormone, and that can lead to weight loss. Plus, since it’s at least 90% water, it can fill you up so you eat less. However, if you are on certain medications you should not have grapefruit or grapefruit juice, so check the label on all your prescriptions, or ask your pharmacist or doctor. — Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, author of Eat Right When Time is Tight.
Abazarfard, Z., Salehi, M., & Keshavarzi, S. (2014, May). The effect of almonds on anthropometric measurements and lipid profile in overweight and obese females in a weight reduction program: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences: The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(5), 457–464. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4116579/
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!