7 Best Fall Foods for Weight Loss

Sweet potatoes and pomegranates are two healthy and delicious fall foods to add to your weight-loss diet.

Ah, fall — the season of apple cider doughnuts, pumpkin spice lattes and hearty casseroles. Throw in the start of the holiday season (hello, Halloween candy!) and it may not seem like the best time of year to buckle down on your weight-loss efforts.

There's good news, though: Autumn is also bursting with nutritious foods that easily fit into a healthy lifestyle. So yes, you can enjoy the flavors of the season and see progress on the scale.

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Here are seven of the best fall foods for weight loss and tips for how to enjoy them.

Did you know that keeping a food diary is one of the most effective ways to manage your weight? Download the MyPlate app to easily track calories, stay focused and achieve your goals!

1. Pumpkin

It's fall and that means the store shelves are exploding with all things pumpkin. The sight of this orange gourd may send you spiraling into thoughts of high-sugar coffee drinks, but in its whole form, it's actually an extremely healthy food. Pumpkin is high in beta carotene, which is converted into vitamin A in the body — a powerful antioxidant.

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A half cup of pumpkin also provides 3.6 grams of fiber, which is pretty impressive. The fiber in your diet may be a good indicator of how successful you will be with your weight loss. An October 2019 study published in The Journal of Nutrition concluded that fiber intake helped more individuals stick with their diet plan and that eating more fiber promoted weight loss.

Tip

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends women get 25 grams of fiber per day and men get 38 grams.

Try adding canned pumpkin to your morning smoothie to get that extra burst of fiber and vitamin A in your day. This Fall Pumpkin Smoothie has 9 grams of fiber and 30 grams of protein — a win for crushing morning hunger.

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2. Apples

If your fall apple picking outing leaves you swimming in the round fruit, that's a good thing. Like pumpkins, apples are full of fiber (one medium fruit has 4.4 grams), and they're also high in water and phytonutrients, which make them an ideal weight-loss food.

In fact, it might be worth adding an apple a day to your diet. A September 2015 Harvard study published in PLOS Medicine found that individuals who ate certain fruits (apples being one of them) lost weight without making significant changes to their diet. The researchers concluded that high-fiber fruits have a positive effect on weight loss.

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Since apples contain fiber on both the flesh and the peel, you want to make sure you are eating both. Try baking your apples and adding in even more fiber with oats and nuts, like these Healthy Stuffed Baked Apples by Kelli Shallal, RD. These are perfect for a weekend breakfast and a great way to jumpstart your fiber intake for the day.

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3. Pomegranate

It's no wonder pomegranate arils are often called rubies. Their deep red color shows immediately that they are bursting with nutrients. Indeed, pomegranates have been studied for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

There is no conclusive research to show that pomegranate arils or juice can directly help you lose weight, but they do have an impact on your gut health, and getting your gut healthy can definitely help with your ability to lose weight.

Pomegranates have been shown to increase the growth of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, two important bacteria in the gut, according to February 2020 research published in Foods.

Try sprinkling pomegranate arils on your morning oatmeal and in smoothie bowls, savory casseroles and salads. Toby Amidor, RD, gives you a burst of fall flavors in her Turkey, Walnut, and Pomegranate Salad, which is sure to become a lunchtime favorite.

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4. Chili

Go easy on calorie-heavy toppings like cheese and sour cream to help make chili a weight loss-friendly meal.
Image Credit: OksanaKiian/iStock/GettyImages

Chili — the quintessential fall food. While you might not be tailgating this year, this football game staple tells you cooler temps are here. Chili may not be the obvious choice for a food that can help you with your weight-loss goals, but it just might be your secret weapon.

When loaded with vegetables, beans and lean meat, it is the complete package for a balanced dinner with complex carbohydrates and protein, both of which help keep you fuller longer (aka less likely to reach into the cookie jar).

When the air is crisp, try this Vegetarian Chili with Red Lentils from Marie Dittmer, RD. This spicy chili is loaded with vegetables, beans and lentils for a fiber- and nutrient-filled dinner, perfect to keep you on track.

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5. Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are in a family of vegetables called cruciferous vegetables. This family also includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage.

Cruciferous veggies may help you lower the inflammation in your body, according to a May 2014 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The research indicates that women, in particular, who had higher intakes of cruciferous vegetables had lower markers of inflammation.

If you have chronic inflammation — the kind that stays around for a while — you may find it harder to lose weight. There is a clear link between weight gain and inflammation, according to Harvard Health Publishing, so lowering inflammation with anti-inflammatory green vegetables like Brussels spouts is a good start.

If you've been hesitant to jump on the Brussels sprouts train, there are a multitude of ways for you to enjoy them. Gone are the days of simply boiling these tiny cabbages. Now, roasting is the way to go. Sharon Palmer, RDN, pairs delicious and warm fall flavors perfect for any weight-loss plan in her recipe for Maple and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

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6. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are often thought of as a good substitute for the white potato. The truth is, they are both starchy vegetables and both have impressive nutrient profiles. The sweet potato is much less abused when it comes to processing, though (looking at you, french fries and potato chips).

Sweet potatoes are low in calories (103 for a medium size) and have an impressive 15 percent of your daily value of fiber per serving. What makes sweet potatoes an ideal food for weight loss is the water content — they're anywhere from 62 to 75 percent water, per a June 2019 review in Food Science & Nutrition. This means they are a satisfying option for meals and you are less likely to overindulge.

Sweet potatoes are a favorite for fall menus, but they don't have to be drenched in butter or slathered in marshmallows to be delicious. There are healthier ways to eat them, such as roasted, mashed or added to your favorite soups.

Sweet potatoes are also delicious stuffed — yes, you heard that right. Take the time to bake your sweet potatoes and stuff them with veggie chili, broccoli or try a recipe from Chrissy Carroll, RD, for BBQ Ground Beef Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.

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7. Oatmeal

A warm breakfast is always a good idea when the temperatures drop, and oatmeal is an excellent option when you're working to lose weight. It has a special type of fiber called beta-glucan. While beta-glucan may not directly help you lose weight — remember it's all about overall diet quality — it can help.

Beta glucan is known to help regulate blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer periods of time. This makes it a great addition to all types of diets.

It doesn't matter if you prefer old-fashioned, steel cut or quick-cooking oats, you still get the same nutritional benefit. You can also blend up oats into flour and add them to any recipe that calls for all-purpose flour and doesn't require the gluten for texture, like meatballs or the topping to your apple crumble.

If you choose to buy instant oatmeal packets in the store, opt for the lower sugar choice to control the amount of added sugar in your diet. And keep in mind that making your own flavored oatmeal is so easy and affordable, and it helps you control what exactly goes in your oatmeal.

If you are really wanting to kick fall into high gear, chai flavors will have you curling up under your favorite throw and reaching for your fuzzy slippers. This Chai Spiced Pumpkin Seed Almond Muesli by E. A. Stewart, RD, will make you happy that sweater weather has arrived.

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