If you’re trying to lose weight then adopting a balanced diet, rich in real food, is a great place to start! Minimising ultra-processed food and ‘empty’ calories, and ensuring that you eat a variety of healthy foods each day can help to keep you feeling satisfied and full of energy.
Real foods are central to our approach to diet at NUVI. This is because science has made it clear that eating a diet rich in fresh, whole foods is undeniably linked to good health. Conversely, studies show that populations that eat diets high in ultra-processed foods suffer high rates of chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. We also think that everyone should be able to enjoy delicious balanced meals, rather than relying on meal-replacement products to lose weight.
Here are our top 10 foods for weight loss!
Sources of dietary fibre such as vegetables, salad, beans, legumes, and fruit tick multiple boxes when it comes to weight loss. Fibre passes through the digestive system slowly compared to other nutrients, and, when eaten at the start of a meal, acts to slow down the absorption of other nutrients, including sugar and fat. This means that you stay full for longer and avoid sharp spikes in blood sugar levels, and subsequent crashes in energy. Ultimately, eating fibre means that you’re less likely to overeat and gain weight.
Furthermore, fibre is known to be beneficial to your gut microbiome. This is important because the microbiome contributes to our overall health in all sorts of ways that science is only beginning to understand. It’s thought that a wider variety of friendly bacteria can contribute to good health and that certain strains of bacteria are associated with a healthy weight. A varied diet high in fibre is a sure way to nurture your gut bacteria and enhance your health!
Examples of high-fibre foods that are great for weight loss:
- Pinto beans
- Lima beans
- Apple (with skin)
- Leafy greens
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things we can do to lose weight and stay healthy.
Water in the body is vital for:
- Joint lubrication to allow us to move comfortably
- Flushing toxins from the body that might otherwise cause inflammation
- Improving the movement of nutrients around the body
- Optimum sleep quality
- Optimum energy levels and clear thinking
- Temperature regulation
You can think about water in terms of something you drink but also as a key nutrient in food. Foods high in water such as fruit, vegetables, and homemade soup are fantastic for weight loss because as well as hydrating you, water can help you to feel full without delivering calories. Consuming plenty of water will help you to lose weight by increasing satiety, and the chance that you’ll overeat; it will also help ensure that you have plenty of energy to stay active and positive throughout your day.
Examples of foods high in water:
- Bone broth
3. Healthy Fats
Although we don’t want to store more of it than we need, eating fat is vital for health and helpful for weight loss. In spite of its poor reputation over the years, eating fat is needed for the absorption of important vitamins, and is essential for the health of your heart and brain.
Furthermore, compared to carbohydrates and protein, fat is has a balancing effect on blood sugar levels. This means that when you eat a meal or snack containing fats, you’re more likely to feel full for longer and won’t experience a dip in energy which is more likely after a fat-free meal or snack.
Sources of healthy fats:
- Olive oil
- Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel
4. Chicken and lean meat
All forms of poultry, meat, and game are wonderful sources of protein. Protein is made up of amino acids which are vital building blocks for the body, playing a huge role in almost all functions in the body. It is vital for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and chemical messengers that help the body function effectively.
Eating protein-rich foods such as chicken or lean meat is also helpful for weight loss. As well as all 9 essential amino acids, chicken and meat contain all sorts of vitamins and minerals that contribute to health, particularly vitamin B12 and iron. Becoming deficient in these nutrients leads to feeling tired and low in energy, which for many people results in strong cravings for sugary foods that are counter to weight loss. Furthermore, because it takes the body a long time to break down chicken and meat in the digestive system, the energy in them is released slowly and we feel full for longer. This long digestive process burns quite a few calories too!
5. Dietary polyphenols
Polyphenols are tiny compounds found in plant foods such as extra virgin olive oil, pomegranate, red wine, berries, grapes, tea, coffee, cocoa and cinnamon. They are thought to help reduce oxidative stress, which is a build-up of reactive chemicals in the bloodstream, which is associated with poor blood sugar control, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain. There are lots of different kinds of polyphenols so eating a wide range of polyphenol-rich foods is key!
6. Green Tea
Green tea is very high in polyphenols and other antioxidants which are known to protect against disease. Research suggests that green tea can help protect against high blood sugar levels which in turn can make losing weight and sustaining weight loss easier. Green tea naturally contains caffeine so be careful not to drink it late in the day if it will affect your sleep or choose a decaffeinated green tea.
7. Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is an old favourite for weight loss because it is one of the most protein-rich dairy products and low in fat compared to other cheeses. Cottage cheese is delicious on a baked potato or served as a dip with raw veggies. If you don’t like cottage cheese then it might be helpful to know that eating dairy, in general, is associated with a healthy weight so you could also try plain yoghurt, kefir, or skyr.
Fruits haven’t always had a good reputation in terms of weight loss, but they are by far the best way to satisfy a sweet craving. High in fibre, water, vitamins, and antioxidants, fruit should be enjoyed as part of a balanced meal, guilt-free! Kiwi fruit is rich in soluble fibre which swells during digestion and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood by around 40%. Like most of the foods on our list so far, this keeps you feeling full for longer and less likely to overeat.
If you’re trying to lose weight but struggle to give up sugar, then it may well be worth trying stevia. Stevia is a herbal plant that has a very sweet taste but very low caloric value. Furthermore, stevia is known to improve insulin sensitivity; insulin sensitivity is important for blood sugar control and sustaining a healthy weight.
Delicious mixed into autumn fruits, yoghurt, or porridge, cinnamon is rich in polyphenols and has been shown to enhance insulin signalling and blood sugar control. Several studies have shown that cinnamon can improve the biomarkers associated with blood sugar balance which is one of the markers of metabolic health and maintaining a healthy weight.
If you’re trying to lose weight, try to choose whole foods and build meals and snacks which are:
- High in fibre
- High in protein
- Contain water
- Contain healthy fats
- Rich in micro-nutrients ie. vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals found in herbs, spices, tea, coffee, etc
These foods will help keep you satisfied without delivering a huge number of calories and help to slow the digestion process so that you don’t experience spikes in blood sugar levels. Feeling full and blood sugar balance are your two best friends when it comes to sustainable weight loss!
Written by Jessica Uffindell, Senior Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach