Foods for Weight Loss
Eating like a bird is, well, for the birds. That's why we've packed our diet with delicious, filling foods proven to help you drop pounds. And you can save your energy for your workouts, because these meals are crazy-simple to prepare. Here's the gist: Everything in each category — breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks — has about the same number of calories, so feel free to put your favorites on repeat. Pair the mix-and-match options with our Tighten It Up Workout and in just one month you'll be 10 pounds lighter — but not one bit hungry.
People who ate eggs and toast for breakfast shed more pounds than those who had bagels and cream cheese, according to a Louisiana State University study. Besides delivering six grams of protein for just 72 calories, eggs have also been shown to lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
A daily serving of nuts can actually help prevent weight gain, research at Harvard showed. Almonds have fewer calories — just 129 per one-ounce handful — than any other kind.
Pears are one of the best sources of soluble fiber, which reduces belly fat. And a study in the journal Nutrition found that women who ate three a day lost 39 percent more weight than those who consumed an equal number of calories' worth of oatmeal cookies.
The heart-healthy fat found in this fruit helps stabilize blood sugar levels, so you don't go from full to famished an hour after eating. Plus avocados are packed with potassium, a mineral that banishes bloat by helping prevent fluid retention.
These are packed with resistant starch, a type of carb that could help you blast up to 23 percent more fat, according to research in Nutrition & Metabolism. And people who added about two-thirds of a cup of chickpeas to their daily diet felt fuller and ate less, another study found.
This seed has a low ratio of carbs to protein, which takes more energy to digest, enabling your body to torch calories in the process. Quinoa is also low on the glycemic index, meaning it won't cause hunger highs and lows.
It's no wonder an entire bunch has just 78 calories: Water accounts for 92 percent of spinach's weight. Add it to soups, stir-fries, and egg dishes to pump up your portion size.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, keep bad moods at bay. They may also suppress appetite and help your body burn fat instead of storing it, University of South Australia researchers found.
Bacon, Egg, and Avocado Taco
One 6-inch corn tortilla, warmed + 1 egg, fried + 1/4 avocado, sliced + 2 slices turkey bacon, panfried and crumbled
Spiced Pear Smoothie
1 pear, chopped + 1/4 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt + 1/4 cup low-fat milk + 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger + 1/8 teaspoon cardamom + 1/4 cup ice. Serve with 1/2 toasted whole wheat English muffin + 2 teaspoons chocolate-hazelnut spread.
2 eggs, beaten + 1 cup baby spinach, sautéed + 2 tablespoons cooked quinoa + 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 slices rye bread, toasted + 1 tablespoon almond butter + 1/2 pear, thinly sliced
Berry Nutty Parfait
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 2 tablespoons slivered almonds + 1/2 cup raspberries + 1 tablespoon honey
Whole-Grain Greek Salad
1/2 cup cooked quinoa + 1/2 cup chickpeas + 10 cherry tomatoes, halved + 1/2 cucumber, chopped + 1/4 cup crumbled feta + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
Goat Cheese and Pear Pizza
One 6-1/2-inch whole wheat pita, toasted, spread with 3 tablespoons goat cheese and topped with 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves + 1/4 cup caramelized onions + 1/2 pear, thinly sliced
Smoked Salmon Tartine
2 slices pumpernickel bread, toasted + 1/2 avocado, mashed + 2 ounces smoked salmon + 1/4 cup arugula. Serve with 1 cup apple slices.
Turkey Veg-Out Sandwich
2 slices sprouted-grain bread + 1 tablespoon hummus + 1/4 avocado, mashed + 4 thin slices roasted turkey breast + 1/4 cucumber, sliced + 3 slices tomato
Skinny Waldorf Salad
3/4 cup diced grilled or rotisserie chicken breast + 1 tablespoon slivered almonds + 2 tablespoons sliced celery + 2 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek yogurt + 1/4 cup red grapes, quartered. Serve with 3 pieces whole-grain crispbread (such as Wasa).
Healthy Takeout Lunches
Starbucks Protein Bistro Box with multigrain bread, cheddar, fruit, peanut butter, and an egg (380 calories)
Panera Bread Half Roasted Turkey and Avocado BLT on Honey Wheat + Low-Fat Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto (400 calories)
Chipotle Burrito Bowl with Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Fresh Tomato and Roasted Chili-Corn Salsas, and Guacamole (390 calories)
Jamba Juice 2 Hummus & Pepper Jack Mini-Wraps + 16-ounce Make It Light Strawberries Wild Smoothie (400 calories)
Coconut-Curry Chickpeas and Spinach
1/4 cup coconut milk + 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed + 3/4 cup chickpeas + 1/4 cup diced tomato + 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, combined and cooked until warmed through. Serve with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.
1 cup cooked quinoa + 1/4 cup canned pumpkin + 1/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted + 1 link chicken sausage, grilled and crumbled + 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon walnut pieces, toasted, combined and cooked until warmed through.
Salmon Niçoise Salad
3 cups baby spinach + 3 ounces canned salmon + 1 tomato, chopped + 5 kalamata olives + 1 egg, hard-boiled and chopped + 1 small potato, boiled and sliced + 10 green beans, steamed + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 avocado, mashed + 1 tablespoon chopped basil + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil + 1/2 cup cauliflower florets, steamed + 1 1/4 cup cooked whole-grain fettuccine + 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Asian Salmon Burger
1 whole wheat sandwich roll spread with 2 teaspoons mayonnaise mixed with 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder + 1 frozen salmon patty, grilled, baked, or panfried + 3 sprigs watercress. Serve with 4 ounces frozen sweet potato fries, baked.
Healthy Takeout Dinners
Ruby Tuesday Grilled Salmon with Roasted Spaghetti Squash and Grilled Zucchini (505 calories)
California Pizza Kitchen Half California Cobb Salad with Ranch Dressing and Beets (500 calories)
Applebee's Signature Sirloin with Garlic Herb Shrimp, Herbed Potatoes, and Seasonal Vegetables (500 calories)
Benihana Edamame + Miso Soup + California Roll (490 calories)
Eat two a day.
- 2 tangerines + 1 Mini Babybel White Cheddar
- 2 cups Popcorn, Indiana, Movie Theater Popcorn
- 6 radishes served with 1/4 cup ricotta + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 Amy's Spinach Pizza Snacks
- 40 Reese's Pieces
- 1 Fruition Lemon bar
- 1 Swiss Miss Chocolate Vanilla Swirl pudding
- 2 celery stalks + 1 tablespoon almond butter + 1 mini box raisins
- One 1-ounce bag Popchips Chili Limón Tortilla Chips + 2 tablespoons Wholly Salsa Guacamole & Spicy Pico dip
- 2 graham cracker squares + 2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese + 8 thinly sliced grapes
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2013.