We want to manage our weight, but we’ve still got to eat! So what foods should we stock up on to support our good intentions? Weight loss expert Karen Handy, MPH, of Palo Alto Medical Foundation's weight management programOpens new window says the best foods for weight loss are the ones that leave us feeling full and satisfied, while lowering our average “calorie per bite.”
To lose or maintain your weight, first figure out how many calories you should be eating, then stock up on the following items. A few of them might surprise you!
How low (calorie) can you go? Not much lower than this, and the bulk from the fiber and water content will help you feel full, crowding out higher calorie choices.
Like vegetables, these allow you to make fiber fullness work to your advantage. Fill your plate with fruit and/or vegetables (shoot for 5 cup-equivalent servings per day), eat them first, and then tackle the protein and starch servings.
3. Lean Proteins
Protein takes longer for the body to break down and digest, leaving you feeling full and satisfied longer. Along with the usual lean protein suspects (chicken, fish, turkey) try a new favorite: non-fat Greek yogurt (and add your own fruit for even more bulk).
4. Whole Grains
Like proteins, whole grains take longer to break down and digest, leaving you feeling more satisfied – and for a longer period of time. Read labels and look for high fiber cereals (top with skim milk and fruit) and “whole wheat” or “whole grain” among the first ingredients listed for pasta and baked goods.
I know, I’m kinda cheatin’ here (they belong in the vegetable category), but potatoes have been given such a bad rap when it comes to dieting, they deserve their own category. (Hey, it’s not the potato; it’s the bacon, sour cream, cheesy “company” they keep!) Filling and nutritious, top with something low-cal like non-fat sour cream, salsa – or a diet entrée (how about a turkey chili entrée topped with that salsa and non-fat sour cream) for a very satisfying meal.
Not movie popcorn, which is loaded with calories even without butter (drat!), but air-popped or 94% fat free versions can be a very supportive, fiber-filled (whole grain!) snack and satisfying when you want a big bowl of something to munch.
7. Broth-based Soups
Research has shown that those who start their meals with a broth-based soup (or low-calorie salad) eat fewer overall calories for the meal – and for the day. Try a broth-based soup chock full of veggies to take an even greater edge off your hunger.
8. Low-calorie Condiments
Trying to lower your calorie intake doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on satisfaction or flavor. Use non-fat salad dressings as dips for your veggies or marinades for your chicken or fish -- or experiment with different vinegars, spices and mustards; load up on salsa and non-fat sour cream for added moisture and flavor; sugar-free Italian syrups can be great drizzled over some non-fat Greek yogurt or to jazz up an afternoon cup of coffee or non-fat latte.
9. A Daily Treat
Yes, you read that right – a daily “splurge” can help keep you off the binge-deprivation see-saw and keep your dieting momentum in high gear. Just be sure your daily indulgence is about 150 calories or less – and not a trigger food that if you start, you won’t be able to limit to just one. Think along the lines of 100-calorie portion-controlled snack packs, Fudgsicles, gingersnap cookies or a skinny latte.