Wondering where to start on your weight loss journey?
It can be complicated trying to figure out what to eat, when, and how much in order to reach your weight loss goals.
However, we say you should take the “KISS” approach: Keep It Simple, Silly. That means choosing foods that work with you, not against you, to help you reach your goals.
Here are some of the best healthy foods for weight loss.
Losing Weight Healthfully
What exactly does healthy weight loss look like, and why does it matter?
First, there are a lot of health conditions and issues related to being overweight, and losing weight may help alleviate some of these. These include: [*]
- Shortness of breath
- Joint pain
- Digestive issues
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Fatty liver disease
Next, weight loss may help with confidence or it may just be a personal goal for people who are overweight or obese.
However, it’s important to understand how weight loss works in order to be successful.
Weight loss is all about calories in versus calories out. You have to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight.
In that regard, your overall dietary pattern and portion sizes are way more important than which individual foods you eat. There is no “weight loss food” that can magically make you lose weight just from eating it.
Therefore, healthy weight loss comes from a balance of limiting your calorie intake (portion sizes) and choosing the right foods.
How to Choose Healthy Weight Loss Foods
Healthy weight-loss foods have a few things in common:
- Minimal processing: Researchers have linked ultra-processed foods to unwanted weight gain and obesity, so it’s better to stick to minimally processed food options. This includes plain meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. [*]
- Low carb count: Additionally, low carbohydrate diets may offer some advantages for weight loss over other types of diets. They are filling, and Keto in particular may help make it easier for your body to burn stored fat. [*]
- Filling: Finally, because you need to eat at a calorie deficit, you’ll want to choose foods that contain fewer calories but that will keep you full. This includes foods with protein, fat, fiber, or a combination of these. [*]
Foods to Avoid for Healthy Weight Loss
On the other hand, there are several foods you may want to avoid for healthy weight loss:
- Highly-processed foods: These foods have been linked to weight gain and obesity. Ultra-processed foods include fast food, boxed meals, frozen meals, candies, processed meats like bacon and sausage, and much more. [*]
- Sugary beverages: Sugary drinks provide calories and sugar, but not much else. They are linked to obesity because they are a concentrated source of unneeded calories. [*]
- Starchy or sugary carbohydrates: Finally, you may also choose to avoid or restrict carbohydrate-rich foods, like rice, potatoes, corn, grains, and fruit. This isn’t a necessity for weight loss, but many people have found success by limiting their carb intake.
What About Weight Maintenance?
Once you’ve reached your goal weight, you have some options. You can continue to eat what you did while you were losing weight, but just a little more of those foods to prevent further weight loss.
Alternatively, you can reintroduce some higher-carb foods, although you may need to adjust your macros to keep your calories at a maintenance level.
However, it’s still a good idea to limit your intake of highly processed foods to occasional treats or special occasions. In addition to obesity, these foods have been linked to a number of health conditions — including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
Top 20 Foods for Weight Loss
Here are some of the best foods for weight loss:
- Eggs: Eggs are extremely versatile, very low in carbs, and rich in protein, healthy fats, and a variety of nutrients. Adding an egg to any meal is a great way to get a boost of whole-food protein.
- Salmon: Salmon is rich in protein and healthy fats, and free of carbs. Salmon filets make an easy and delicious meal, and canned salmon can be used to make quick, healthy salmon patties.
- Tuna: Tuna is an excellent source of protein, and canned tuna or tuna pouches are particularly great for on-the-go. While tuna salad is a popular choice, you can also use tuna to make protein-rich croquettes.
- Chicken: Chicken is lean and inexpensive, rich in protein, and carb-free. It’s an ideal protein source for people who are trying to lose weight.
- Beef: Although many people don’t immediately think of eating beef for weight loss, this meat is remarkably protein-rich and very filling. To keep the calories low, choose leaner cuts and remove all visible fat before eating.
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms — you either love them or hate them. However, these veggies provide good texture to meals and absorb the flavor of whatever they’re cooked in, while also providing fiber and being low in carbs and calories.
- Cauliflower: Cauliflower is an excellent veggie substitute for rice and even mashed potatoes, making it easy to enjoy low-carb versions of some of your favorite foods.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant sulforaphane, which may offer some weight management benefits. It’s also low in calories and carbs. [*]
- Spinach: Spinach is superbly low in carbs and calories, so you can pile it high in salads or cook it in scrambled eggs or soups.
- Kale: Kale is a slightly more bitter cousin of spinach, and it can be eaten cooked or raw. Drying or baking it with olive oil also makes great-tasting chips.
- Zucchini: Zucchini is a versatile, mild-tasting squash that can be spiralized to make a delicious low-carb alternative to pasta: zoodles!
- Strawberries: Strawberries, despite their natural sweetness, are low in carbs and sugar and high in fiber.
- Raspberries: Like strawberries, raspberries are low in carbs, fiber-rich, and tangy and sweet — a great part of a whole food, low-carb dessert.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are mostly fiber, and their crunchy texture makes them a great topping for foods. You can also use them to make low-carb chia seed pudding.
- Flax seeds: Flax seeds are rich in fiber and a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s. They’re great to sprinkle on any food for an extra fiber boost. [*]
- Garlic: Garlic is low in calories and carbs, and packed with flavor. It also contains the powerful antioxidant allicin, which may help your body naturally burn a little more fat. [*]
- Ginger: Ginger is a powerhouse of flavor, and may even offer some metabolic benefits. It’s a good addition to Asian-inspired recipes. [*]
- Avocado: Avocado is full of fiber and healthy fats, making it a great addition to almost any meal sliced, mashed or in guacamole.
- Almonds: Alone, almonds are a filling snack, but almond flour is also a staple in low-carb baking, and almond butter is a versatile whole-food spread.
- Kimchi: This spicy fermented cabbage condiment from Korea is loaded with flavor, low in calories and carbs, and full of gut-healthy probiotics.
Ready to discover more weight-loss friendly foods? Check out the Carb Manager app. If you’re on Keto, we can help you easily determine the best foods for you with just one quick glance, thanks to our food grading system, “Keto Grades”.