The foods you chose to eat when dieting make a difference in how successful you are. Generally accepted guidelines from doctors such as those at the National Institutes of Health include avoiding trans fats, eating fewer processed foods, limiting saturated fats and reducing the amount of refined sugar you eat. Tomatoes are both good for your weight loss efforts and your overall health.
Food Pyramid Placement
The tomato, considered a fruit in horticultural classifications, falls under the vegetable category on the food pyramid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Eating the right number of vegetables such as tomatoes each day can help you get adequate nutrients, keep your calorie intake low, stay full and possibly help with weight loss, according to a publication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While you need 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day when eating a 1,200- to 1,800-calorie diet, you should eat about one-third of your vegetable allotment each week in red and orange vegetables, and the other two-thirds from beans, green vegetables, starchy vegetables or other vegetables.
Low in Calories
The number of calories you consume when dieting affects not only your weight loss rate, but also whether you lose weight at all. Tomatoes are low in calories, making them an ideal “diet” food. A large tomato has 33 calories -- a medium, 2 3/5-inch tomato has 22 calories. A plum tomato has 11 calories, and a 1/2 cup of small, cherry tomatoes contains 13 calories, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Connie Guttersen, registered dietitian and author of “The Sonoma Diet,” says the low-calorie values and health benefits of tomatoes put them in the “power food” category, meaning they are good for your weight and health.
Fats and Nutrients
Tomatoes have almost no fat, making them a good food to eat if you follow a low-fat weight loss plan. The tomatoes have filling fiber, with a medium or large tomato containing 1.5 or 2.2 g of fiber, respectively. Tomatoes also have naturally occurring sugars, potassium, vitamin C and a small amount of protein. If, rather than following a low-fat diet, you eat a mainly low-carb diet to lose weight, a large or medium tomato has only 7 or 5 g of carbs each, making them a healthy, low-carbohydrate choice.
The high water content of tomatoes might help you lose weight because you might feel less hungry after eating a serving or two of tomatoes. Foods such as tomatoes with high water content fall within the low-calorie-density food category, which the CDC explains might boost weight loss success. Additionally, the lycopene in tomatoes might make it less likely you will develop some cancers, while protecting your heart from disease, according to an article featuring Liz Weinandy, registered dietitian for Ohio State University Medical Center.
Strategies and Considerations
Use tomatoes as part of your weight-loss plan by juicing whole, ripe tomatoes for a healthy, sodium-free tomato juice, adding thinly sliced tomatoes to turkey or vegetarian burgers or using tomatoes in soups. If using canned or jarred tomato products, look for products with little or no sodium. Add an extra cup of diced tomatoes to spaghetti sauce instead of ground beef, generously sprinkle your green salad with finely chopped tomatoes or eat a tomato and fat-free mayonnaise sandwich for lunch.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Eat More, Weigh Less?
- University of California; Tomatoes, Safe Methods to Store, Preserve and Enjoy; Tracy Parnell, et al.; 2004
- “The Sonoma Diet”; Connie Gutterson; 2005