Every food offers a slightly different nutritional profile, and choosing the best foods for weight loss can make all the difference.
Fiber, protein and other substances in foods exert powerful influences on physical processes, including appetite suppression and stimulating metabolism.
Make the most of your food choices with these nine foods and beverages proven to help in dropping excess weight.
Everyone knows it’s important to drink plenty of water, but when you’re working on losing weight, pay attention to timing and temperature for even better results.
One study with middle-aged adults following a fat-loss diet showed that drinking 17 ounces of water half an hour before meals increased feelings of fullness and led to 44% more weight loss. (1)
That same 17 ounces of water has a significant impact on metabolism, boosting rates by up to 30% for the next sixty to ninety minutes. (2)
When you drink cold water, the body expends energy (calories) to take off the chill; this leads to more calories burned daily using this strategy.
Despite the generous amounts of fat in nuts, they’re actually among the most weight-loss friendly foods you can choose.
The fats found in nuts are healthy, and though the calorie counts look high, between 10% and 15% of these fats are not utilized because they are too difficult for the body to digest. (3)
Nuts are also loaded with fiber and protein, resulting in more satiation from eating less calories. (4)
People who eat nuts weigh less on average than those who don’t, as well as having significantly smaller waist measurements, which can decrease the chances of developing chronic diseases. (5)
In a study of healthy subjects following a low-calorie diet, those who supplemented almonds dropped 62% more weight than the control group who snacked on complex carbohydrates. (6)
- Fish and Lean Meat
Quality protein supports weight loss, and making sure you’re getting adequate amounts of this important nutrient is vital for success.
Assimilating protein requires extra energy, so you burn more calories when you eat fish and lean meat.
Studies confirm diets high in protein rev up the metabolism; one trial indicated up to 260 more calories are burned daily on a protein-rich diet, and others show amounts varying between 80 and 100 calories. (7, 8, 9, 10)
Without restricting other foods, women who took 30% of calories from protein ate an average of 441 less calories daily and dropped about a pound a week. (11)
Caffeine is a common ingredient in weight loss aids because it steps up the body’s fat-burning capacity. (12)
Drinking 4 to 6 cups of coffee daily could help you burn up to 150 more calories, but the effect is temporary since people build up a tolerance to caffeine. (15)
- Hot Peppers
Chile peppers contain capsaicin, a substance proven to boost metabolism and decrease appetite. (16)
Like caffeine, capsaicin is often included in weight loss supplements, but you can also include spicy foods like peppers in your diet to reap the benefits.
If you eat a lot of spicy food already, bumping up your capsaicin intake probably won’t make much difference; this is another substance to which the body builds a tolerance. (17)
- Coconut Oil
The medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil exert powerful biological effects on the body, partly because they are metabolized differently than most fats. (18)
Test participants in one study who included coconut oil in their diet experienced more feelings of fullness that resulted in eating less food, to the tune of 256 fewer calories daily; additionally, up to 120 calories were burned each day. (19)
Coconut oil can also help reduce excess belly fat, which is a risk factor for developing chronic diseases; subjects in a controlled trial who ate two tablespoons of coconut oil daily had significant reductions in waist measurements. (20)
- Green Tea
The caffeine in green tea can step up the metabolism in a similar manner to coffee, but the amounts are lower in tea.
However, there are other compounds in green tea that can help you lose weight.
Bioactive substances like the antioxidant EGCG can step up norepinephrine activity, as well as assisting in the process of releasing fatty acids from cell storage. (21)
Green tea can increase metabolism by 3% – 4%, while boosting the body’s ability to burn fat by as much as 17%. (22)
Drinking green tea also appears to target belly fat as weight is lost. (23)
- Whole Eggs
Eggs are extremely weight loss friendly, as well providing excellent protein and other important nutrients.
If you’ve been avoiding eggs to limit dietary cholesterol, you can feel good about including them in your diet knowing that studies show eggs have virtually no effect on blood cholesterol levels. (24)
In a study with obese and overweight participants, researchers found those who ate eggs for breakfast rather than bagels felt so satisfied that they ate less calories over the next 36 hours. (25)
Another study compared the weight loss results of people who consumed the same number of breakfast calories in eggs or bagels; egg-eaters lost 65% more weight than bagel-eaters. (26)
Eggs were studied because they’re a popular breakfast food, but if you don’t groove on eggs, try substituting another quality protein source in the mornings.
- Apple Cider Vinegar
With a long-standing positive reputation in the health community, apple cider can yield impressive benefits.
It’s well-known for lowering blood sugar levels after high-carb meals, which can help with weight control. (27)
Subjects who took apple cider vinegar along with a carb-loaded menu felt so full afterward that they consumed between 200 and 275 fewer calories over the remainder of the day. (28)
Obese participants in another trial downed a tablespoon or two of apple cider daily, losing modest amounts of weight (2.6 to 3.7 pounds) over a 12-week period. (29)
Choose Your Allies
Losing weight is challenging, but making smart selections about which foods and beverages to include in your plan will make it much easier.
Summary: Stock up on lean proteins and nuts, cook with coconut oil, and cash in on the benefits of drinks like green tea, coffee and water to support weight loss and establish healthy habits that can help you keep off the weight you lose.