Even small shifts in the diet over time can make for huge differences in results. There are certain foods that are definitely more weight loss friendly than others, just as there are foods that you need to avoid if you are trying to keep the waistline in check.
The following are twenty of the best foods out there for encouraging weight loss, and we’re not going to insult your intelligence with entries like”water” or “rice cakes.” These need to be foods you’re willing to eat and that are practical to integrate into a long term diet or healthy eating plan.
These aren’t necessarily in any order because honestly all of them can be great foods for helping to encourage weight loss in people who need to shed a few pounds and in addition to that, so much of what works best will depend on full diet, that person’s system (while general rules apply, each of us are unique and a bit different in that respect), and what vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients you may have been missing from your diet.
That last part is especially important as it can cause a good food to then become great or amazing in helping to shed the excess fat.
It’s important to note – these are just foods that have worked well for me when I’ve been trying to lose weight in the past. They’re not the end all or be all, and you may not even agree with all the foods on this list.
There really isn’t any food that is going to consistently be as all-around amazing as eggs, and these are a true super food when it comes to keeping the waistline in check. On average a whole egg is only 70-80 calories meaning you can toss together 4-5 and still not bust out a meal’s calorie count.
They are loaded with protein to give energy, build muscle, and help you feel full throughout the day.
These can be fried or scrambled for breakfast, boiled and sliced up in a salad, and boiled eggs with a touch of sea salt even makes for a great low calorie and high protein snack throughout the day.
Even beyond these great reasons to eat more eggs (and eat the whole egg – many of the nutrients are all in the yolk) multiple studies have shown that between two groups that ate the same number of calories, worked out the same, had the same lifestyles, the group that ate eggs lost 13% more body fat than any of the groups that didn’t. Add those eggs!
2. Cottage Cheese
Dairy can help encourage fat burning, but many dairy products have extremely high calorie counts. In fact, drinking a gallon of milk a day has been a bodybuilding secret to gain weight. Cottage cheese is the ideal way to get high protein, good fat, and the fat-burning benefits from a diary product without completely blowing up your calorie count.
This is a food that you only want in moderation, because it can add up, but as long as you control the servings this is a great food to get a boatload of nutrients from a food that will help you feel full and get the energy you need to get through the day.
Grapefruit is renowned as a healthy fruit, loaded with vitamins like Niacin. Very filling, and forcing you to take your time to eat, allowing you to feel full earlier, grapefruit is also known for having elements that specifically encourage the body to burn more fat than it otherwise would.
Salmon is one of the healthiest meats in the world. This fatty fish is absolutely loaded with vitamins and nutrients, lean protein and healthy fats.
It is incredibly good for the health, can be prepared a variety of different ways, and has so many health benefits that it is hard to list them all.
That being said, it is very important to make sure you are getting Pacific salmon as opposed to Atlantic salmon. Atlantic salmon comes from much more polluted waters and there are concerns with the levels of negative things that have been found in Atlantic salmon – this is not a concern with any from the Pacific side.
Yes, avocados have become a trendy pick as a super food, but it’s hard to disagree with how much they offer. Loaded with vitamins and good healthy fats, avocados have been shown to be good for heart health, better eye sight, and like eggs avocados seem to help dieters just absolutely shed the pounds.
This is a versatile fruit which can be used in so many ways and really should be a staple to any healthy eating plan – especially one focusing on weight loss.
Very few calories and offering most of the benefits of cucumbers with a little more taste and flavor.
While some people love cucumbers, pickles are a great alternative for the many people who see the weight loss benefits but who also aren’t as big a fan of the conventional cucumber taste.
Cauliflower is a super vegetable.
Not only is it delicious and very low in calories, but it is versatile. Faux mashed potatoes using cauliflower is a popular weight loss friendly substitute dish while cauliflower rice has taken off in popularity for good reason.
However you like your cauliflower, adding more to the diet is a great way to not only feel full from delicious food but to also keep the bathroom scale’s needle moving in the right direction.
8. Black Beans
While most beans are great, black beans in particular are a great option. These offer a lot of fiber to keep you full, and have a certain mass that helps fill the stomach without loading up on calories. Iron and protein come in abundance, and without the saturated fat from red meat. Just a good deal all around.
The only red meat you’ll find on this list, bison has some incredible properties. Not only is it far leaner than beef, but it is loaded with protein, healthy fat, and even Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to be incredibly good for heart health but are normally only found in fish!
Bison meat can be a tad on the expensive side and you need to look for it, but if you can get it this is an incredible red meat that you can actually eat guilt-free.
Whether you love the leafy spinach that gets tossed into a fresh salad or the steamed spinach that can be added to a variety of cooked dishes, there are very few green leafy vegetables that can compete.
Giving all the benefits you would expect spinach is low calorie, adds extra iron to the mix, and has been shown in some studies to actually boost the positive effect of protein in some dishes.
Pro Tip: A block of frozen spinach properly prepared can make a great addition to a crock pot of chili.
11. Boneless Skinless Chicken
Versatile, skinless chicken breast is a staple of every weight loss friendly food list because it works. Cut it up with salad, serve it as a protein, use it with any meal, skinless chicken is high in protein and fills you up without blowing up the calorie count and you avoid the saturated fat issues you get with many red meats.
There’s a reason this is the foundation to so many weight loss plans and it is a solid one.
While salmon might be the king of fish when it comes to freshwater fish, tuna definitely holds its own on the saltwater side.
Extremely high in protein, low in calories, and quick to fill you up, tuna is a great way to check all the boxes when it comes to having a protein or meat dish available and getting the most out of the nutrients without adding a lot of the downsides that come with many meat options.
Note: It’s important to make sure you’re getting actual tuna. Many canned tunas are mixes and there are many places that advertise tuna but don’t actually serve it. You want the real thing if you’re going to get the benefits listed here.
The key here is to eat a whole apple and not go to apple sauce or juice. Whole apples are low in calories, have a touch of sweetness that can kill those cravings (or a bit of tartness if you prefer) and it turns out that apples contain pectin.
Pectin actually causes the body to get signals that its full and works as a natural appetite suppressant, meaning a whole apple is probably only around 100 calories but your body is so much fuller as if you ate more!
Loaded with anti-oxidants, offering a bit of sweetness, and loaded with vitamins, blueberries are a delicious and healthy food that make for a great substitute for the sweet snacks that are doing a number on the waistline.
Vitamins, minerals, and a cup of blueberries takes up a lot of space and gives plenty of fiber while keeping the calories quite reasonable.
Bone in sardines may not seem appealing, but they’re the type of fatty fish absolutely loaded with protein, healthy fats, and nutrients.
A must for low carb and keto dieters, this food is going to give a major boost to all of your muscle building or fat burning efforts. Great food for general health, muscle building, or burning fat.
Green veggies in general are always a good idea, and whether as part of a healthy stir fry, salad, or just something to nibble on by itself, broccoli is loaded with good nutrients including calcium. Studies have shown broccoli is great not only for weight loss but also helping to prevent cancer.
No doubt about it: broccoli is a winner!
High in water and high in fiber, carrots not only deliver on the nutrients but they are a great option for when you want to feel full. They can be a snack but they are easy to add to salads, to stir fry, as part of a steamed vegetable mix, or even roasting them in cast iron.
With so many ways to prepare them and enjoy extra flavor, there really is no excuse not to find a way to add more of these fine vegetables into your diet.
Bananas are a great food for controlling blood pressure, for loading up on potassium, and they can give a great boost of energy without completely blowing up the calorie or carb numbers. They also have the type of fiber that the body takes a very long time to digest.
When you feel full for longer you’re far less likely to overeat.
Bananas are interesting and while they have some great health and weight loss potential it is very important to only eat them in moderation as they are a starch and do have natural fruit sugars as a result.
Too many can begin to cancel out some of their more positive potential effects.
19. Sugar Free Jello
This is one of those for limited amounts, but if you tend to have a sweet tooth and sometimes having fruit isn’t quite enough, a single serving cup of sugar free jello can be a great way to put those sweet tooth demons back in the closet before you binge on cake, ice cream, candy, or anything else with sugar.
This is also a “secret weapon” for people on no sugar low carb diets who sometimes really get a craving as this is both slow-carb, low carb, and keto friendly!
The caveat here is watching how you make it.
However if you use bison, skinless chicken, or at worst, very lean ground beef and put in the beans, the spices, some spinach, you’ll find that a crock pot of chili actually offers a pretty amazing number of meals and per bowl the calorie count is not going to be that high – meaning you will frequently be full after eating less than you normally would and still feeling the benefits of ab ig home cooked meal.
At the end of the day, the foods on this list are just a few of the many that can help you lose weight. While they may not work for everyone, these are just a few of the items I’ve had luck with over the years, and they definitely the end all or be all.
The bottom line? Find a program that fits your needs and dietary preferences for the best results. Something like Weight Watchers has a list of over 200 foods that can help with weight loss, or there are plenty of other great options out there too.
Ben Corbin brings nearly 20 years of experience as a health and wellness author and writer. He holds a master’s degree, has a passion for health and fitness, and is driven to provide readers with accurate and honest diet reviews. Learn more about Ben and the DadQuarters mission at our About page.