Not all calories are created equal. Different foods go through different metabolic pathways in the body. They can have vastly different effects on hunger, hormones and how many calories we burn.
Here are the 20 most weight loss friendly foods that are supported by science.
1. Whole Eggs
Once feared for being high in cholesterol, whole eggs have been making a comeback. What's more ... they are among the best foods you can eat if you need to lose weight.They're high in protein, healthy fats, and can make you feel full with a very low amount of calories. Eggs are also incredibly nutrient dense and can help you get all the nutrients you need on a calorie restricted diet. Almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens include kale, spinach, collards, swiss chards and a few others. They have several properties that make them perfect for a weight loss diet. They are low in both calories and carbohydrates, but loaded with fiber. Eating leafy greens is a great way to increase the volume of your meals, without increasing the calories. Leafy greens are also incredibly nutritious and very high in all sorts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This includes calcium, which has been shown to aid in fat burning.
Oily fish like salmon is incredibly healthy. It is also very satisfying, keeping you full for many hours with relatively few calories. Salmon is loaded with high quality protein, healthy fats and also contains all sorts of important nutrients. Fish, and seafood in general, supplies a significant amount of iodine. This nutrient is necessary for proper function of the thyroid, which is important to keep the metabolism running optimally. Salmon is also loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation. Mackerel, trout, sardines, herring and other types of oily fish are also excellent.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts.
Like other vegetables, they are high in fiber and tend to be incredibly fulfilling. What's more ... these types of veggies also tend to contain decent amounts of protein. They're not as high in protein as animal foods or legumes, but they're high compared to most vegetables. A combination of protein, fiber and low energy density makes cruciferous vegetables the perfect foods to include in your meals if you need to lose weight.
5. Lean Beef & Chicken
Meat has been unfairly demonized. It has been blamed for all sorts of health problems, despite no good evidence to back it up. Although processed meat is unhealthy, studies show that unprocessed red meat does NOT raise the risk of heart disease or diabetes. The truth is ... meat is a weight loss friendly food, because it's high in protein. Protein is the most fulfilling nutrient, by far, and eating a high protein diet can make you burn up to 80 to 100 more calories per day. If you're on a low-carb diet, then feel free to eat fatty meats. But if you're on a moderate- to high carbohydrate diet, then choosing lean meats may be more appropriate.
White potatoes seem to have fallen out of favor for some reason. However ... they have several properties that make them a perfect food, both for weight loss and optimal health. They contain an incredibly diverse range of nutrients, a little bit of almost everything we need. They are particularly high in potassium, a nutrient that most people don't get enough of and plays an important role in blood pressure control. Sweet potatoes, turnips and other root vegetables are also excellent.
Tuna is another low-calorie, high protein food. It is lean fish ... so there isn't much fat in it. Tuna is popular among bodybuilders and fitness models who are on a cut, because it's a great way to keep protein high, with total calories and fat low. If you're trying to emphasize protein intake, then make sure to choose tuna canned in water, but not oil.
8. Bean & Legumes
Some beans and legumes can be beneficial for weight loss. This includes lentils, black beans, kidney beans and some others. These foods tend to be high in protein and fiber, which are two nutrients that have been shown to lead to satiety. They also tend to contain some resistant starch.
As mentioned above, meals and diets with a low energy density tend to make people eat fewer calories. Most foods with a low energy density are those that contain lots of water, such as vegetables and fruits. But you can also just add water or bone broth to your food ... by making a soup.
10. Cottage Cheese
Dairy products tend to be high in protein. One of the best ones is cottage cheese ... calorie for calorie, it is mostly just protein with very little carbohydrate and fat. Eating plenty of cottage cheese is a great way to boost your protein intake. It is also very satiating, making you feel full with a relatively low amount of calories. Dairy products are also high in calcium, which has been shown to aid in the fat burning process.
Avocados are a unique type of fruit. Whereas most fruit is high in carbs, avocados are loaded with healthy fats. They are particularly high in monounsaturated oleic acid, the same type of fat found in olive oil. Despite being mostly fat, they also contain a lot of water, so they aren't as energy dense as you may think. They also contain many important nutrients, including fiber and potassium.
12. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is incredibly popular in the natural health community for it's wide-range of benefits. It is popular for use in condiments, like dressings or vinaigrettes. Some people even dilute it in water and drink it. Several studies suggest that vinegar can be useful for people who are trying to lose weight. Apple cider vinegar has acetic acid, which is known to suppress your appetite, increase your metabolism, and reduce water retention. Scientists also theorize that apple cider vinegar interferes with the body's digestion of starch, which means fewer calories enter the bloodstream.
Despite being high in fat, nuts are not inherently fattening. They're an excellent snack, containing balanced amounts of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Just make sure not to go overboard, as they are still pretty high in calories. If you tend to binge and eat massive amounts of nuts, then it may be best to avoid them.
14. Some Whole Grains
Despite grains having gotten a bad rap in recent years, there are some types that are definitely healthy. This includes some gluten-free, whole grains that are loaded with fiber and contain a decent amount of protein as well. Notable examples include oats, brown rice and quinoa. If you're on a very low-carb diet then you'll want to avoid grains, because they are high in carbohydrates. But there's nothing wrong with eating some of the healthier grains if you can tolerate them and are not on a low-carb diet.
15. Chili Pepper
Eating chili peppers may be useful on a weight loss diet. They contain a substance called capsaicin, which has been shown to help reduce appetite and increase fat burning. This substance is even sold in supplement form and is a common ingredient in many commercial weight loss supplements.
Most health experts agree that fruit is healthy. Even though fruit does contain sugar, it does have a low energy density and take a while to chew. Plus, the fiber helps prevent the sugar from being released too quickly into the bloodstream. If you are on a very low-carb diet or the Ketogenic diet it is best to stay away from most fruit. Berries are a good choice in moderation as they are lower in carbs. For the rest of us, fruits can be an effective (and delicious) addition to a weight loss diet.
One fruit that deserves to be highlighted is grapefruit, because its effects on weight control have been studied directly. The grapefruit group also had reductions in insulin resistance, a metabolic abnormality that is implicated in various chronic disease. So ... eating half a grapefruit about a half hour before some of your daily meals may help you feel more satiated and eat fewer overall calories.
18. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They do contain 12 grams of carbohydrate per ounce, which is pretty high, but 11 of those grams are fiber.
Because of all the fiber, chia seeds can absorb up to 11-12 times their weight in water, turning gel-like and expanding in your stomach. Given their nutrient composition, it makes sense that chia seeds could be a useful part of a weight loss diet.
19. Coconut Oil
Not all fats are created equal. Coconut oil is high in fatty acids of a medium length, called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). These fatty acids have been shown to boost satiety compared to other fats, as well as increase the amount of calories burned. Extra virgin olive and avocado oil is also worth mentioning here, because it is probably the healthiest fat on the planet.
20. Full Fat Yogurt
Another excellent dairy food is yogurt. Yogurt contains probiotic bacteria that can improve the function of your gut. Having a healthy gut may potentially help protect against inflammation and leptin resistance, which is the main hormonal driver of obesity.
Low-fat yogurt is usually loaded with sugar, so it is best to avoid that stuff like the plague.