If you're overweight, losing weight can significantly improve your health. This is true, even if the amount you lose is small -- perhaps between 5 and 10 percent of your body weight. And even though no one single food will melt away body fat, your overall dietary choices can make or break your weight loss results. To shed excess weight, follow a restricted calorie diet that's rich in minimally processed foods.
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Eat Fruits and Veggies to Melt Body Fat
Fruits and veggies have a stellar reputation -- and for good reason: they're loaded with nutrients, including antioxidants, and they're one of the best foods you can eat for weight loss, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. Typically, fruits and vegetables have a low-energy density, which means that the number of calories per gram is low, so even eating large portions of them won't add a lot of calories to your diet.
Fruit and veggie intake is strongly linked to a reduced risk of being overweight, explains a review paper published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2012. In fact, one of the studies reviewed in the paper reported that people who ate an average of only 2.2 servings of fruits and veggies a day were likely to lose weight. Ideally, you should get more than 2 servings of fruits and vegetables a day; aim for 1.5 and 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 2.5 cups of veggies a day.
Try Whole Grains for Weight Loss
Finally, eating whole grains gives you an excuse to indulge a carb craving. Whole grains, which are a group of minimally processed grains -- including whole wheat, brown rice and quinoa -- are prime foods for fat loss, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. Following a calorie-restricted diet that emphasizes whole grains is especially beneficial for losing abdominal fat, reports a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008. That's great for your health, since abdominal fat can contribute to heart disease. The weight-loss benefits of whole grains might in part be because of the fiber content of whole grains. Since whole grains retain the fibrous bran and germ, they're a much better source of fiber than refined grains such as white rice, which contain only the starchy endosperm.
Fiber not only stabilizes your blood sugar -- which means you're less likely to suffer from hunger hangs caused by swings in your blood sugar level -- it also boosts satiety, without adding calories to your meal, so you'll feel more satisfied, even on a calorie-controlled diet. To increase your intake of whole grains, make simple changes: sub out white pasta for whole-wheat pasta and eat lesser-known whole grains such as amaranth and quinoa.
Dine on Yogurt to Lose Abdominal Fat
Making yogurt a regular part of your diet might help you shed excess body fat, notes Harvard. And substituting yogurt for other foods in your diet might accelerate fat loss, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2007. The study authors compared the effect of a regular weight-loss diet to one that included yogurt, and found that the yogurt group lost 81 percent more abdominal fat than the other group, during the 12-week study. Dieters who ate yogurt also retained more lean mass, such as muscle mass, which is a bonus for fat loss, because having greater muscle mass means that your metabolism will be faster.
When shopping for yogurt, read the nutrition label and choose unsweetened, plain varieties, when possible, so that you don't buy yogurt with too much added sugar. Add yogurt to your homemade smoothies or sweeten a serving of yogurt with fruit such as fresh raspberries.
Snack on Nuts for Healthy Fats and Fiber
To satisfy your craving for crunch while you shed fat, snack on nuts. Typically, nuts are pretty high in calories, and depending on the type you choose, you'll take in about 160 to 200 calories per ounce. But nuts are also full of fiber, which aids weight loss. Just as fiber supplies protein, so do nuts, and fiber also boosts satiety so you'll feel full. Multiple studies have shown that people who eat nuts regularly tend to weigh less than those who don't eat nuts, explains the Linus Pauling Institute.
For the greatest benefit, choose unsweetened, unsalted nuts that don't have added oil. Shop for all-natural nut butters that don't have added sugar. Many nut butters do contain added sugar, so make sure the nutrition label lists nuts as the sole ingredient.
Enjoy Egg-Cellent Fat Burners
Adding eggs to your diet is an easy way to increase your protein intake, which keeps you feeling satisfied after a meal. Each large egg offers 6 grams of bio-available, high-quality protein, along with other essential nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin B-12. Starting your day with an egg breakfast might also help you burn fat, according to results published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2008. The study authors compared the weight loss benefits of an egg-based breakfast to a bagel-based breakfast, and found that dieters who started their day with eggs shed more fat than bagel-eaters.
If eggs aren't your style, you can get similar benefits by incorporating other protein-packed foods in your diet. For breakfast, serve nonfat cottage cheese with fruit or scramble tofu with veggies. At other meals, include other lean proteins, like beans and lean meat, as a source of protein.