While every person in the world is different, the one thing we all have in common is that we need to eat to live (there’s really no getting around that if you’re human). For as long as we can remember, our eating has been neatly organized into discreet meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner come around everyday, literally like clockwork. This means everyday you have a choice about what you will eat for each one of these meals.
In today’s modern world, choosing what to eat is actually much more difficult than it sounds. There is SO much variety that it can feel overwhelming at times. This is especially true for those of trying to lose weight, which requires a more complete understanding about what our food choices have to offer.
Following general nutritional guidelines is a good place to start. For instance, to lose weight successfully, it’s better to consumer higher amounts of lean protein and fiber than carbs and fat (of course while watching portion sizes). But even that still leaves us feeling a bit adrift in a sea of food choices.
To help alleviate your stress about what are “good” vs. “bad” choices for each meal, we’ve put together a list of weight loss-friendly foods.
Numerous studies have shown that eating a healthy breakfast may help you lose weight and keep it off by reducing hunger later in the day. If you skip breakfast, your body may shift into “starvation mode,” which means it holds increases your fat reserves in case you need energy for later in the day. In addition, waiting too long to eat your first meal of the day may cause you to overeat and consume more calories than you need.
Weight loss-friendly breakfast foods:
Steel cut oatmeal: This is higher in fiber and lower on the glycemic index than other oatmeal varieties.
Eggs: These are an excellent source of protein. The latest body of research says it’s okay to eat the yolks, which has a higher concentration of protein and other nutrients than the whites. For additional texture and taste, add some avocado (a great source of fiber and unsaturated fat) and jalapeno peppers to your eggs. Red peppers have been proven to increase metabolism, which helps burn more calories.
Greek yogurt: This is a great source of protein and probiotics, which help keep your gut hormones in balance.
If you have coffee in the morning, research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that lean protein in low-fat dairy may help prevent weight gain and build lean body mass. So choose 1% or 2% milk instead of cream if you have the option.
Even if you faithfully eat breakfast, it may be a good idea to eat lunch on the early side. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that dieters who eat lunch early lose more weight than those who eat a late lunch. This may be related to the fact that our resting metabolism is higher in the first half of each day.
Weight Loss-Friendly lunch foods:
Soup: According to a study conducted by Penn State University, eating low-calorie soup before a meal can help cut back on how many calories you consume for lunch overall. Avoid soups that are creamy. Broth-based vegetable soups are best.
Salad:We all know that a “salad” is the go-to choice for losing weight, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be boring. By definition you will be getting the valuable fiber you need from the leafy greens, but add some lean chicken or turkey to give it added protein power. Add other veggies and maybe a little low-fat cheese to make it interesting and increase satiety. But one important thing to remember is to go very easy on the dressing. Many salad dressings are high in sugar and calories, so choose oil and vinegar or a light vinaigrette if available. If you don’t want salad as a main course, try starting out your lunch meal with a small salad instead. Research shows that starting lunch with salad can cut calorie consumption by 12 percent.
This meal may be the most challenging of them all since the choices seem endless. Luckily, some of the healthiest dinner options are low in calories and rich in nutrients and flavor.
Weight Loss-Friendly dinner foods:
Chicken Breast: Grilled, skinless chicken is one of the most versatile and flavorful foods you can have at supper. Lean proteins like chicken breast are low in calories and research shows they boost feelings of fullness and burn more calories through digestion. Studies have shown that diets rich in lean protein decrease total body fat and abdominal body fat while increasing lean mass. Add vegetables for additional nutrition and fiber.
Quinoa: This healthy whole grain can serve as a side or main dish in practically and dinner. Quinoa’s is rich in proteins, amino acids, and magnesium, a mineral that plays an instrumental role in regulating fat metabolism. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that participants felt fuller after eating quinoa than after eating rice. Quinoa has more calories than rice, so just be sure to watch portion sizes.
Fish: Add a bit of seafood to your dinner recipes and you’ll reap healthy rewards. Fish, especially salmon and tuna, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve weight loss, heart health, and reduce risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
For more healthy weight loss friendly meal ideas check out the recipes section of our site.