Which foods are best for weight loss? Are the weight-loss foods advertised on TV really as effective as their manufacturers claim them to be? These are the questions related to weight loss that, as registered dietitians and personal trainers, we receive most often from our clients.
If you’ve wondered what foods you should be spending your money on, read on. Although there is no single best food, many foods do actually help to promote a healthy weight loss. In addition to sharing our favorite food to help in the battle against extra weight, we’ve compiled recommendations from top dietitians who know the science and have been able to put it to the test with their clients. If the food you’ve seen advertised isn’t on this list, it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a good choice. It just means there are other options (and likely less-expensive ones). Here are our experts’ top picks:
I recommend Brussels sprouts, not just for those trying to lose weight, but for everyone. They’re amazingly delicious and while you can always buy fresh Brussels sprouts, frozen varieties with little added sodium can also be a tasty and convenient option. I keep a bag or two in my freezer at all times—I cook them in the microwave and then chill them in the fridge. I often pop them like candy straight from the refrigerator in between meals. Or I have them just before dinner—they fill me up and help me keep portions of higher-calorie foods small. Eating them also helps me meet my daily vegetable quota.
Brussels sprouts are packed with water to hydrate and fill you up. One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts is also an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, thiamine and folate. It’s also a good source of fiber, potassium and iron. Brussels sprouts are cruciferous (like kale and cauliflower) and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. And they have few calories, which is ideal for those trying to shed weight and keep it off.
—Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., author of Younger Next Week (Harlequin Nonfiction, 2014)
One of my favorite foods for weight loss is peanut butter. It contains both protein and healthy fat to help you feel satisfied, which is an important factor when you’re trying to lose weight. However, one tablespoon (crunchy or smooth) contains about 90 to 100 calories, which means portions matter. For your lunchtime PB&J sandwich, use 2 tablespoons, but only 1 tablespoon if you’re using it for dipping apples as a snack.
—Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.
Lean sources of protein are my top pick for weight loss. Protein increases satiety in a dose-dependent manner—the more you eat, the more full you’ll feel. Protein also has a higher thermic effect of feeding than either carbohydrate or fat.
—Marie Spano, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., C.S.S.D., sports dietitian, nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks
My favorite food for weight loss is oatmeal. Make it with one-half cup of dry oats and one cup of nonfat milk, and top with a tablespoon each of almond butter and chia seeds. This perfect combination of fiber, protein and healthy fat will keep you full until lunch, which is especially important for people who are trying to lose weight.
—Keri Gans, R.D.N., author of The Small Change Diet
My favorite food for weight loss is a big salad. As long as you are mindful about salad toppings, it can be a filling and nutritious meal. I like to load my greens up with plenty of chopped veggies, nuts and a lean protein such as beans, fish, lean beef or eggs. A splash of oil and vinegar is the finishing touch. I find that it is satisfying, because it takes longer to eat than other foods and is high in satiating protein and fiber without being high in calories.
—Sarah-Jane Bedwell, R.D., L.D.N., author of Schedule Me Skinny: Plan to Lose Weight and Keep it Off in Just 30 Minutes a Week
I love mushrooms because they provide “meatiness” to dishes without any meat—and for significantly fewer calories. A few of my favorites are portabella “steaks,” baby bella bacon bits and chili con crimini. These are great examples of enjoying a low-energy-dense food in place of a high-energy-dense food and still feeling satisfied. I often pair foods like these with protein in a more healthful way.
--Jackie Newgent, R.D.N., chef, nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook
One of our favorite foods for weight loss are eggs. They are a great way to stay satisfied, thanks to their protein, which helps to keep you feeling full and stabilizes your blood sugar so you don’t experience an energy crash. When your energy levels are stable, you don’t crave a quick boost (i.e., more food) and overeat. And when combined with fiber, eggs make the best weight-loss breakfast. You can find our recipe for the best weight loss breakfast, including eggs here. Eggs also make a great on-the-go weight-loss snack—simply grab a hard-cooked egg and a piece of fruit and run out the door.
--The Nutrition Twins, R.D.N., C.D.N., C.F.T., personal trainers, and authors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure, The Secret to Skinny and Fire Up Your Metabolism.