14 Best Foods for Weight Loss

We chose 14 fairly common foods that research proves can be helpful for weight loss.

Some, like Eggs, Greens, Salmon and Almonds are recommended for nearly all diets.

Others like Oats, Apples, or Chia seeds are great choices for many people, but are fairly high in carbs so don’t fit well in Low CarbPaleoMediterraneanNordicAtkins, or Keto diets.

Anyways, here’s our list and some of the science behind how they can help you  lose weight fast without depending on fad diet pills like Garcinia Cambogia.

I hope this gives you some good ideas.

1. Eggs

girl eating eggsGovernment guidelines that once slammed the cholesterol in eggs now admit they were wrong.

Dietary cholesterol does NOT raise your cholesterol levels, and in fact are very nutritious. (12).

In fact, eggs are one of the very best foods for weight loss.

A large egg is about 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 protein, and no carbs (3).

The balanced protein and saturated fats  them very filling, and are nearly perfect for low carb dieters.

With no carbs, the score a zero on the glycemic index, so won’t raise blood sugar levels.

Simply eating eggs instead of bagels resulted in  significant weight loss for participants in this eight week study (4).

Another study showed that eating eggs instead of bagels increased feeling of fullness (satiety), and resulted in less calories consumed  later in the day (5).

 Conclusion: Eggs are a very nutritious high protein food that are also very filling and can result in fewer calories consumed throughout the day.

2. Kefir

KefirDepending on the type of milk used, 6 ounces of milk kefir  contains approximately

  • Calories – 100
  • Protein – 6 grams
  • Carbohydrates – 7-8 grams
  • Fat – 3-6 grams

(http://www.caloriecount.com/calories-liberty-kefir-plain-i84981)

After the fermentation process, Kefir is much lower in Carbs and Glycemic Index than milk.

It contains more than 20  different strains of friendly bacteria, including many lactobacillus and bifodobacteriam strains which are  beneficial (6).

Kefir also has beneficial yeasts which combat intestinal parasites like E. coli.

The fatty acids in Kefir are between  80-95% CLA – Conjugated Linoleum Acid  (7).

CLA helps glucose fill muscles cells more effectively,  preventing glucose from being converted to fat.

A review of 18 different clinical studies have shown CLA helps reduce body fat (8)

Conclusion: Kefir is well balanced in Proteins, Carbs, and Saturated Fats, high in many beneficial probiotics, and CLAs which have been shown to aid weight loss.


3. Avocados

avocadoLike eggs, Avocados have gotten a bad rap from (faulty) mainstream nutritionists until just recently.

Now that we know that “eating fat doesn’t make you fat”,  attitudes are changing and Avocados are recognized as a very healthy diet choice.

A medium Avocado has:

  • Calories – 322
  • Carbohydrate – 17 grams
  • Fiber – 13 grams
  • Sugars – 1 gram
  • Fat – 29 grams
  • Protein – 4 grams
  • Glycemic Index – not measured

(http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1843/2)

Avocados are very high  in a particular kind of fat – monounsaturated oleic acid.

Oleic acid has been linked to reduced inflammation and been shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (11121314).

Oleic acid is converted in the body to CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), which  we mentioned for Kefir that CLA  has been shown to help reduce body fat (15)guacamole-variations-06

With only 1 gram of carbohydrates as sugar and the rest being fiber which slows the absorption tremendously.

In fact, the glycemic index of Avocados is so low that the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition doesn’t even bother to calculate it (16).

High fats and fiber give Avocados a high satiety index, which was proven by research.

A study found that compared with other foods, subjects given Avocados  were  23% more satisfied and were 28% less likely to  eat for the next 5 hours (17).

They also contain nearly 20% of the RDA for potassium – an important mineral that  most people need a lot more of (18).

 Conclusion: Packed with beneficial fats and fibers, Avocados are very filling and hunger satiating.  For Keto dieters, a perfect compliment for Eggs in the morning. 

4. Greens

leafy greens1Leafy greens such as spinach, chard, collard greens and Kale are very nutrient dense, but low in calories for volume and high in fiber.

Most leafy greens have fewer than 10 calories per cup  which make them one of the very best foods for weight control.

Research proves that  including very low in energy density foods result in fewer overall calories consumed and  has been proven in many  (19).

Full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that combat  diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer (20),

 Conclusion: Low in calories and high in nutrients make leafy greens another no-brainer for weight loss.  Nearly all diet plans recommend eating as much leafy greens as you wish 

5. Wild Salmon

salmonFish are very high in protein, so are recommended by nearly all diet plans.

But some fish are more healthy than others, with Salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and other oily fish being at the top of the list.

Salmon in particular is  high in  Omega-3 fat which has numerous health benefits besides combating metabolic disease (2122).

One study found eating farmed Salmon 2 times a week resulted in 50% higher levels in the blood of the important Omega 3 fat DHA (23).

Nutrients in Fresh vs Farmed Salmon

There are noticable differences in Wild vs Farm-raised Salmon, as this table shows.

According to the  USDA, wild Salmon has 130 less calories than farm raised Salmon per serving.

These calories are mostly from fat, but not the good Omega 3 fats that we need more of (24).

Unfortunately, farm raised Salmon are much higher in Omega-6 fats.

They also have 3 times as much saturated fat.  Not terrible, but not as beneficial as Omega 3 fats.

Those on a Ketogenic diet might actually prefer the higher fat content of farm raised Salmon.  Others would probably prefer the lower calories of Wild Salmon.

 Conclusion: All fish are excellent sources of protein, but the Omega 6 fats in Salmon put it at the top of the list for weight loss. 

6. Grapefruit

Pink-GrapefruitA medium sized red grapefruit has:

  • Calories – 97
  • Fiber – 4 grams
  • Protein –  2 grams
  • Carbohydrates – 26 grams
  • Fat – 0 grams
  • Glycemic Index – 29
  • Vitamin A (79% RDA)
  • Vitamin C (107% RDA)
  • Vitamin A (79% RDA)
  • Pantothenic acid (14.% RDA)

As fruit go, they are fairly low in calories,  with an excellent Glycemic Index, but it isn’t obvious why Grapefruit has been so popular with dieters for decades now.

The answer rests on AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), an enzyme that  helps muscles use stored sugar and fat for energy.

AMPK activity  is increased by exercise, but can also be activated by certain food substances such as Polyphenols and Capsacin.

Another such substance is Nootkatone,   a component found in grapefruit has been shown to significantly increase AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity (25).

Researchers found that study participants given 1/2 a  grapefruit  or the same quantity of juice before meals lost an average of  3.5 pounds over 12 weeks (26).

3.5 pounds isn’t huge, but that was from eating just 1/2 a grapefruit with no other changes.  Participants also had lower blood glucose and insulin sensitivity.

 Conclusion: Eating Grapefruit or grapefruit juice before meals helps your body store more calories in muscle, leaving less for fat storage and results in modest weight loss 

7. Apples 

applesA medium Apple has:

  • Calories – 95
  • Carbohydrate – 25 grams
  • Fiber – 4 grams
  • Fat – 0 grams
  • Protein – 0 grams
  • Glycemic Index – 29

http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/glycemic-index

Apples are all carbs, with no fat or protein, which normally isn’t great for weight loss.

However, the do have a very low Glycemic Index, are very high in Antioxidants, dietary fiber, flavonoids, and often make most lists of Top Healthy Foods

The antioxidants and nutrients may help reduce risks of hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease (27).

For weight loss, a 12 week study showed women that added  one and a half large apples daily to their diet lost  on average about 3 pounds (28).

The  fiber in apples is Pectin, a soluble fiber that has been shown to  increase satiety, improve metabolic health, and decrease caloric intake, weight gain, adiposity (30,)

This low energy density,  glycemic index, and soluble fiber make it an excellent food for weight loss for most people, although the 25 grams of carbohydrate is problematic for those on Low Carb or Ketogenic diets.

Conclusion: Apples are a great portable, nutritions snack food that can alleviate a craving for sweets, while giving a little boost to your  weight loss efforts.

8. Oatmeal

oatmeal_bellyfillingA cup of rolled oats contains:

  • Calories – 300
  • Fats – 5 grams
  • Carbohydrates – 56 grams
  • Fiber – 8 grams
  • Protein – 11 grams
  • Glycemic Index – 55

Oatmeal is fairly high in calories and carbs.  But they do have a fairly low glycemic index of 55 so the calories are absorbed fairly slowly.

They contain the soluble fiber beta gluten, which has been shown to increase feelings of satiation, and fight insulin resistance and hypertension (31).

Studies show that compared with standard breakfast cereals of the same calorie count, oatmeal provides more protein and fiber, less sugar, and induced greater satiety (32).

In another study published in 2013, subjects who consumed oatmeal for breakfast over 12 weeks had reduced weight, BMI, and waist to hip ratio.

A 2013 issue of Plant Foods and Human Nutrition published a study that showed oat cereal consumed for 12 weeks did associate with reduced body weight, body mass index, body fat and waist-to-hip ratio (33)

** Before I went Keto and had to cut the oatmeal, one of my favorite tricks was mixing it with Cottage Cheese.  Tastes yummy and gives you a nice balance of carbs and proteins.

 Conclusion:  Studies confirm what every oatmeal eater knows – they are very filling and slowly absorbed to keep hunger at bay for many hours.  While they are too high in carbs for some diets, they can aid weight loss, especially when eaten in place of commercial cereals.  

9. Beef

Grilled New York strip steak

Grilled New York strip steak

We could list Chicken and Pork here as well, but are focusing on Beef to also address what we feel is some unfair criticisms Beef suffers from.

Research shows that eating red meat does not increase risks of diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease  (3435).

Other studies  show no increase in cancer risks for women from consuming red meats, and only a very minute increase in risk for men  (3637).

Studies show there are many benefits for eating beef, as a high protein diet can increase metabolism to burn up to 100 calories more each day (3839).

Other research demonstrates that increasing  protein to 30% of total calories can cut hunger and result in weight loss of a pound a week  (4041).

 Conclusion: Sufficient protein is key to weight loss.  Adding whole, unprocessed beef to you diet can result in significant weight loss

10. Coconut Oil

coconut-oilCoconut oil is composed almost entirely of Saturated Fats, which faulty advice has caused many people to fear unjustly.

This very healthy oil is unique in that it is nearly all  Medium Chain Fatty Acids (42).

Unlike all other fats, Medium Chain Fatty Acids  bypass the digestive system and go straight to the liver to be used for energy or  ketone bodies.

Studies show that consuming coconut oil increases metabolism  compared to equal calories of other fats (4344).

Another study showed taking 2 tablespoons of MCT  fats per day increased energy consumption (fat burning) by 120 calories per day  (45).

Coconut oil also helps suppress appetite.

Studies show that eating MCT fats cut hunger and participants consumed less calories throughout the day – up to 250 less in one study  (4647).

 Conclusion: Right behind Olive Oil in overall health benefits, Coconut oil can also aid weight loss when used in place of other fats for cooking or baking recipes 

11. Goji Berries

goji-berries

One ounce of dried Goji Berry contain:

  • Fiber – 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates – 6 grams
  • Protein – 3 grams
  • Calories – 23
  • Fat – 0
  • Glycemic Index – 29

(http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/280160/1)

Goji Berries are harvested from the Lycium Barbarum plant, from the box thorn family.

They are native to southern Europe and Asia, but most commercially produced Goji is from China, where it is also known as Chinese Boxthorn or Wolfberry.

Goji have a very good nutritional profile that includes high level of antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin (48)

  • 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals
  • 6 Vitamins
  • 18 amino acids
  • beta-sitosterol and other phytosterols
  • 5 carotenoids, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene and cryptoxanthin

They have a lot of protein, high dietary fiber and  low glycemic index which makes them filling without raising blood sugar levels.

Goji berry is an adaptogen that is claimed to reduce stress levels and lowers cortisol levels which promote weight gain (49).

The ORAC value of Goji Berry, which measures antioxidant levels, is about 10x higher than other fruits like Oranges or Blueberries, and is comparable to Acai (50).

A 2011 double blind study with Rodents given Lycium Barbarum extract showed increased metabolic rate and reduced waist size compared to placebo (51).

In 2008, a 14 day study of adults given Lycium Barbarum showed improved Energy Level, athletic performance, quality of sleep, and gastrointestinal function (52).

One downside of Goji Berries is the cost – they are fairly pricey.

 Conclusion: Packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, with low glycemic index, Goji Berries make a handy and healthy snack for a little weight loss boost

12. Almonds

almonds-master_0One ounce of Almonds  contains:

  • Calories – 160
  • Fat – 14 grams
  • Carbs – 2.5 grams
  • Fiber –  3.5 grams.
  • Protein – 6 grams.
  • Vitamin E: 37% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 32% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 20% of the RDA.

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3667

Almonds are high in protein and  fiber which  has been shown to promote satiety and result in lower overall calorie consumption (53).

The also have a very low glycemic index which means those calories are absorbed very slowly, making them an approved food source for diabetics (5455).

Nearly all of the fats in Almonds are  mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known to have positive effects on heart disease (56).

Research has shown consuming almonds can lead to improved metabolism, lower blood sugar levels and weight loss (575859)

Almonds are fairly high in calories, so should not be consumed in massive quantities, but rather serve as a handy snack between meals to alleviate hunger.

 Conclusion: High in protein and fiber, and low in carbs, Almonds make a great between meal snack, especially for Low Carb dieters. 

13. Chia Seeds

Chia-Seed-Diet

One ounce of Chia seeds  contains:

  • Calories – 137
  • Fat – 9 grams
  • Carbs – 12 grams
  • Fiber –  11 grams.
  • Protein – 4 grams.

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2

Chia seeds contain 12 grams of carbohydrate per ounce, which is fairly high, but 11 of those grams are  soluble fiber.

This makes chia seeds a low-carb friendly food, and one of the best sources of fiber in the world

This soluble fiber makes Chia seed much like Glucomannan, in that they absorb more than 10x their weight in water, and turn into a gel in your stomach (61).

Not only is this very filling, but the soluble fiber acts as a prebiotic for the beneficial bacteria in your gut – the Probacteria that have weight loss benefits  as well  (626364656667).

The 9 grams of fat is mostly Omega 3 fats, which have tremendous  benefits for heart health.

Chia seeds are also high in  Vitamins A, B, E, and D,  iron, magnesium, iodine, niacin, thiamine, and many antioxidants (68).

Studies show consumption of  chia seeds suppress  appetite, but so far they are inconclusive at proving weight loss (6970).

 Conclusion: Packed with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, protein, Omega 3  fats, and fiber make Chia seeds one of the most nutritious foods on earth.  Although short term weight loss benefits are unproven, they are filling and do suppress appetite.  

14. Chili Pepper

chili peppersThe “hot” in chili peppers is from a substance called capsaicin,

Numerous research studies and clinical trials  have shown capsaicin  gives a boost to metabolism to  increase fat burning, and also helps suppress appetite (717273).

However, one study shows that the increased fat burning and hunger suppression is more effective for those who are not used to consuming capsaicin, and the effects diminish over time (74).

Besides weight loss, Capsaicin is believed to have these additional health benefits

  • Aid digestion
  • Reduce pain from Migraine headaches
  • Sooth aching joints
  • Support Detox

Amazon has over 1500 products that include capsaicin in the form of Cayenne (a type of chile pepper)

 Conclusion: Adding Cayenne or other chili peppers to your food wherever you can is a simple way to add some pep to your weight loss efforts.

Final Thoughts

None of these are miracle foods that you can use to reach your weight loss goals all by themselves.

But they are all healthy choices and do have modest benefits for weight loss, proven by research.

Incorporate as many of these foods as you can into your diet in place of less healthy alternatives and you will see results.