Don't let hunger sidetrack your efforts to lose weight. Choose foods that can control your appetite to make dieting easier and increase your chances for success. The best foods to eat for weight loss keep you feeling full longer, provide you with good nutrition and help you maintain your weight when your diet is over.
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Foods high in dietary fiber are some of the best foods to eat when you're losing weight. They create a feeling of fullness, control blood sugar by slowing the digestion of carbohydrates, lower your calorie intake and keep your digestive tract moving. Good high-fiber, low-calorie choices include beans, lentils, split peas, nuts, seeds, oats, barley, bran, whole grains, most vegetables and whole fruits.
To curb your appetite, include a lean source of protein in each meal and snack. As protein is digested in the small intestine, a chemical message to stop eating is sent to your brain, which turns off your appetite. Protein can also boost alertness and energy. Eat fat-free or 1-percent-fat dairy products, skinless chicken and turkey, eggs or egg substitute, tofu, hummus, nuts, seeds and beans to keep your appetite under control while losing weight.
Contrary to popular belief, a low-fat diet is not ideal for either weight loss or health. Fat actually enhances your weight-loss efforts, because it satisfies the appetite and prevents overeating. Include heart-healthy, hunger-curbing monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet with foods including almonds and other types of nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, olive and canola oils, avocado and fatty fish such as sardines, tuna and herring.
Low Glycemic Index Carbohydrates
Choose carbohydrates with a low glycemic index to control hunger while you diet. The glycemic index is a measurement of how much a carbohydrate-containing food affects your blood sugar and insulin levels. Foods with a large impact on those levels -- white bread, white rice, potatoes, sweet cereals and any foods made from highly refined grains -- cause blood sugar to spike and then crash, which increases hunger. Instead, control your appetite with whole grains such as oats, barley and brown rice. Eat breads, pasta and cereals made with whole grains.
Foods With a Low-energy Density
Foods with a low-energy density are low in calories but high in volume, so you can eat more and feel fuller longer. Instead of eating 1/4 cup of raisins, have an entire cup of grapes for equal calories. Exchange a 300-calorie glazed doughnut for a serving of bran cereal with blueberries and skim milk and a slice of whole-grain toast with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter. Foods with a low-energy density take longer to eat, satisfy your appetite longer and are filled with fiber and other nutrients.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Bastyr University; Fiber and Weight Loss; Wendy Caamano, MS, CN, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD; February 2010
- "Diabetes Health"; The "Fat-Free Fallacy:" Is It Obesity's Great Enabler?; Jamie Bailes, M.D.; December 2008
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
- "Psychology Today"; The Protein-Hunger Connection; Carlin Flora; January 2006
- Clemson Cooperative Extension; Go Lean with Protein; December 2005
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good