Most people that have been on diets that require them to severely restrict energy intake, or limit the kind of food that is eaten, will agree that it is extremely difficult to stay on these diets for an extended period of time. The will to remain on these types of ‘crash- or fad-diets’ quickly fades when the hunger pangs start setting in.
The good news is that you don’t have to be on a diet that leaves you feeling hungry and without energy. There is no need to cut nearly everything edible from your diet.
There is a wide variety of foods that are very low in calories yet will satisfy your hunger, while keeping you on track to lose all the weight you want to lose and keep it off in the long run.
This article highlights these foods, the health benefits that you can gain by including them in your diet, and provides a general indication of the number of calories each food type contains.
If this sounds appetizing to you, keep on scrolling towards a thinner, healthier, and happier you !
- Fat burning fruits
- Vegetables that burn belly fat
- Protein for weight loss
- Healthy Fats
- Best fat burning Wholegrains
- Spices that help you loose fat
- Drinks to weight loss
- Dairy to burn fat
- What nobody tells you
Fat burning fruits
Naturally, fruits are popular snacks that contain a wide variety of nutrients that the body needs in order to be strong and healthy. Not only are fruit tasty snacks between meals, but they are also very portable, and easy to include in a lunch bag for school or work.
Keeping healthy snacks close by can prevent you from snacking on the more unhealthy, high fat, nutrient poor snack foods available in most vending machines at work or school.
Even though fruit are a much better option to snack on than crisps, sweets and chocolates, some caution still needs to be taken when consuming fruits. Fruit contain natural fruit sugars which count toward your daily allowance of calories, so moderation is key!
Lucky the sugar in fruit, called fructose, is harder for the body to digest than other sugars found in sweets and chocolates, called sucrose. The body also burns energy while breaking down and digesting these fruits, which means that part of the energy contained in these low-calorie fruits will be burned while they are consumed.
It is this very concept that has lead some nutritionists to talk about ‘zero-calorie’ foods.
The number one fruit that can be consumed quickly as a snack anytime of the day, is low in calories, and is very nutrient dense is apples! Ever heard the popular saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” ?
The reason behind this is that apples contain pectin and phenolic acids.
A medium sized apple contains only 72 kcal of energy.
=> Also have a look on our Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits list
2. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit contain monoterpenes which is a flavonoid that helps impede cancer growth.
Citrus fruits are well known for the high Vitamin C content, which is known to support the formation of collagen. Collagen is the matrix on which bones and teeth are formed. The zest from lemon and lime peels can add color and flavor to your food.
An orange contains only 62 kcal of energy.
Berries, including raspberries and blueberries, contain resveratrol, which is a phytochemical also found in grapes. Resveratrol protects against cancer by inhibiting cancer growth.
It also protects against heart disease by restricting blood clot formation and inflammation. Blueberries are also high in flavonoids, which can help improve memory.
A ½ cup of blueberries contain only 41 kcal of energy.
Bananas are one of the most widely consumed fruit in the world, since they are easily cultivated in many different environments. Bananas are super high in fiber which helps keep hunger at bay.
As a rich source of potassium, bananas aid in the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, and even asthma.
Eating a banana before or after exercising can help reduce muscle cramps, as potassium helps muscles contract and improves nerve cell responsiveness.
One banana contains about 105 kcal of energy.
Vegetables that burn belly fat
Leafy green vegetables have long been known for their health benefits. A rule of thumb with any fruit or vegetable is the darker the color, the more nutrient dense it is. Look for dark green, dark orange, deep red and rich yellow vegetables, and be sure to include them all in your diet!
The following list of vegetables are a good starting point to include these vegetables in your daily diet, but the list is not nearly complete.
Feel free to include as many different vegetables in your diet as you can find. Just keep in mind that vitamins in these vegetables are sensitive to heat, and some can dissolve in water.
Be sure not to overcook your vegetables so that you can gain maximum benefit from consuming them.
This cruciferous, leafy green vegetable has recently gained popularity for the amazing nutritional benefits its dark green leaves offer. Kale is one of the richest sources of vitamin K in the world.
Vitamin K is also synthesized in the body by the bacteria living in the gastro-intestinal tract, but these bacteria are only able to produce half of the Vitamin K the body actually needs. Therefore, it is vital that Vitamin K rich food sources are included in a healthy, balanced diet.
Vitamin K helps with the formation of blood clotting proteins in the body. A deficiency in Vitamin K could result in uncontrolled bleeding disorders, as well as low bone density which can cause bones to fracture more easily.
A whole cup of raw Kale contains only 33 kcal of energy.
-> Kale is also in our Chronic fatigue syndrome Diet
Another leafy green that is packed with plenty of nutrients is spinach. While spinach also contains Vitamin K, it is a rich source of Vitamin A and Folate. Folate is a B-vitamin more commonly known as Folic acid, which is a key player in the synthesis of DNA required for all rapidly growing cells.
A deficiency in Folate can impair cell division and protein synthesis, resulting in various nervous system disorders, as well as defects in the formation of the spinal cord and brain of a growing fetus during the early weeks of pregnancy. For this reason, it is super important for all women of child-bearing age to consume enough Folate rich foods.
A whole cup of raw, chopped spinach contains only 7kcal of energy !
7. Broccoli and Broccoli Sprouts
Broccoli is another member of the cruciferous vegetable family and is also one of the most nutrient dense vegetables on earth. Aside from all the health benefits gained from including broccoli in your diet, you may also notice a healthier skin complexion and healthier hair when consumed regularly.
A cup of broccoli a day will provide you with all of your body’s daily requirements for Vitamin C and Vitamin K, as well as a healthy dose of Vitamin A, Folate, and potassium.
Half a cup of raw, chopped broccoli contains only 15 kcal of energy.
Parents all over the world teach their children that “carrots will help you see in the dark”. Though this may not be 100% true, carrots are rich in Vitamin A, which will help protect against loss of vision.
Carrots are also a good source of antioxidants, which reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Being high in fiber and beta-carotene, carrots also help satiate hunger pains and protect the gastro-intestinal tract.
Half a cup of raw carrots contains only 25kcal of energy.
Protein for weight loss
The versatility of proteins in the body is remarkable. Proteins help with blood clotting, improve eyesight, help muscles contract, and generally keep the body alive by facilitating chemical reactions and defense against infections.
Including a variety of proteins in your daily diet can boost your metabolism and reduce your appetite. The body also works extra hard to break down protein into amino acids, which means you are burning energy just by eating proteins. This phenomenon is known as the thermogenic effects of protein.
Animal derived protein such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk products are excellent sources of protein, but are often accompanied by fat. Plant derived protein such as whole grains, vegetables, and legumes provide the body with less protein but also less fat, which is desirable when the goal is to lose weight.
The following list contains three excellent protein sources to start including in your diet, but again, the list is not nearly complete.
9. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish includes salmon, sardines, haddock and trout to name a few. These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Include fish in your diet 2 – 3 times per week to ensure you get enough omega-3 fatty acids for optimal benefits.
Fatty fish, when compared with other white fish, such as hake, will keep you satiated for longer. If you don’t like to cook, you can also find Omega 3 supplements like Omega XL.
A 100g salmon fillet contains 170 kcal of energy.
Most diets require that the egg yolk be discarded and only the egg white should be consumed. However, this will be a big mistake! The egg yolk is by far the most nutritious part of the egg.
Eating the whole egg is much more filling than only eating the egg white, and it will keep hunger away for much longer, resulting in the consumption of fewer calories overall.
Eggs are a source of complete protein when the whole egg is consumed, which means they contain all 20 of the common amino acids.
It was previously believed that eggs cause high cholesterol, but this myth has been de-bunked. An egg a day for 4 – 5 days a week is 100% safe and will have no negative impact on cholesterol levels.
1 Hardboiled egg contains 78 kcal of energy.
Quinoa is an ancient grain which has been a staple in the diets of the Incas and their descendants, as well as the Aztecs. It is also a complete protein, is high in fiber, and has a low GI index, which means it will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
A cup of cooked quinoa contains 222 kcal.
‘Good fats’ generally come from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. You can discern healthy fats from less healthy fats by considering their state at room temperature. Healthy fats are usually liquid at room temperature, while unhealthy fats are solid.
Think about olive oil (liquid) or sunflower oil (liquid) at room temperature, compared to bacon fat (solid) or butter (solid) at room temperature.
The following foods are sources of good fats, which should be included in any healthy, balanced diet. However, moderation is key, and these foods should be consumed in small amounts, as they are more energy dense than other vegetables.
Avocados are very nutrient dense, containing roughly 20 different vitamins and minerals needed by the body. They are one of the more energy dense fruits around, and should therefore be consumed in moderation, but unquestionably plays an important part of a balanced, nutritious diet.
As avocados contain healthy fats, you only need a small portion to keep those hunger pains at bay, and they will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
A third of a medium sized avocado has 80 kcal of energy.
13. Dark chocolate
Cocoa is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants that defend against oxidation and reduces the tendency of blood to clot. Dark chocolate contains a larger percentage of cocoa and a smaller percentage of sugar than milk chocolate, which is why it is the healthier option between the two.
If your sweet tooth is aching for some chocolate, rather reach for the dark chocolate. Not only will it satisfy your sweet tooth, but it will also keep you on your weight loss journey.
1 Bar of dark chocolate contains 220 kcal of energy.
Best fat burning Wholegrains
Wholegrain wheat and rye contain phenolic lipids which help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. Phytic acids, also present in whole grains, bind to minerals which helps to lower the formation of damaging free-radicals and in doing so, reduces cancer risk.
Wholegrains are rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals and should form part of every healthy diet. But beware of refined grains, as the bran, germ, and most of the fiber and nutrients have been removed from these grains.
Rather reach for the whole-wheat, or whole grain option over their more processed counterparts.
Barley is one of the most popular and widely consumed grains in the world and is rich in manganese and selenium. Manganese-dependent enzymes are involved in bone formation and various other metabolic processes, and selenium defends the body against oxidation and helps regulate the thyroid.
Barley is also very versatile and is easily incorporated into meals ranging from soups and stews to stand alone side dishes.
½ cup of Barley contains 97 kcal of energy.
Spices that help you loose fat
Pure spices, such as turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger can be regarded as true ‘zero-calorie’ additions to food, since the amount of these spices used is usually so small that the calories they add to food is negligible. They add great flavor and provide wonderful health benefits when consumed.
But be aware that some spices are mixed with sugars and sodium to improve their flavor profiles, so make sure to read the product labels and select the healthier options with no added sugars or sodium.
Turmeric contains Curcumin which acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It can therefore assist in reducing the rate of blood clot formation and impedes the enzymes that trigger carcinogens.
Oregano contains flavonoids which also acts as antioxidants. Flavonoids hunt down carcinogens such as nitrates and bind to them. This prevents them from being converted into nitrosamines, and in doing so limits cell proliferation and cancer formation.
Cinnamon is a potent antioxidant which helps combat inflammation and can even assist in lowering blood glucose levels. Its sweet flavor means it can be used as a sugar substitute in coffee without forfeiting the flavor.
18. Hot Peppers
Capsaicin is the chemical component responsible for the ‘hotness’ in Hot Peppers. It curbs blood clotting, reducing the risk of fatal clots in heart and arterial disease.
19. Black Pepper
The king of spice will support you in your weight loss efforts. Black pepper is a must have in your nutrition habits ! If you want to know more about it, check our article on the benefits of black pepper !
Ginger is well known for the soothing effect it has on an aching stomach and nausea, but it is also very rich source of a wide variety of nutrients including vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate, riboflavin and niacin, with a list of health benefits that is even longer!
Drinks to weight loss
The average adult body consists of about 60% of water. Lean muscle tissue weight consists of nearly three-fourths of water, whereas fat tissue consists of only one-fourth of water content. Therefore, a leaner person will have a higher percentage of water in their body when compared to an obese person.
Water in the body carries nutrients and waste products throughout the body, and it helps maintain the structure of large molecules, including proteins and glycogen.
Water plays a major role in metabolic reactions, and serves as a solvent for minerals, vitamins, amino acids and other small molecules in the body.
Water acts as a lubricant and a cushion around joints, the eyes, the spinal cord, and in pregnancy. It also helps regulate normal body temperature and maintains blood volume.
For these reasons, it is vital to ensure that you drink enough water every day. The average adult needs about 2 to 3 liters of water a day (source).
Water is the true ‘zero-calorie’ food and can be consumed freely throughout the day and night.
22. Green Tea
Green tea contains antioxidants, flavonoids and caffeine which can help increase the body’s metabolic rate and level of fat oxidation.
A cup of brewed tea contains about 2 kcal of energy. But that is before any sugar or milk is added!
23. Red Wine
Really ? Yes, Red wine contains resveratrol which is a powerful antioxidant. It inhibits cancer growth and inflammation, reduces bad LDL Cholesterol, and lowers the rate of blood clot formation.
Half a cup of red wine (about 125ml) contains 125 kcal of energy.
Coffee is high in B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants which help fight cancer. It can increase your metabolism and the rate at which your body burns fat.
However, this is usually a short-term solution. Drinking coffee before meals can reduce the hunger sensation, resulting in smaller portions consumed during the meal.
The caffeine in coffee also boosts your short-term energy levels, but can keep you awake at night if you drink coffee too late. Coffee can also interfere with the absorption of Iron, which is a vital mineral in the body. Therefore, limit your daily coffee intake to 4-5 cups per day maximum.
Brewed coffee contains about 2kcal of energy per cup. Instant coffee contains about 5kcal of energy per cup. Espresso contains about 21kcal of energy per cup. But that is before any sugar or milk is added!
Cappuccino contains about 79kcal of energy per cup due to the increased volume of milk used.
A word of caution : If losing weight is the goal, steer clear from fancy coffee drinks like latte’s and café mochas. A café mocha contains up to 400kcal of energy.
Dairy to burn fat
Many people are under the false impression that consumption of dairy products result in weight gain. What is true, is that dairy can be a minefield of high fat-content products.
But the importance of including low fat sources of diary in your diet cannot be overstated. Diary helps support muscle growth, maintains bone health, reduces the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, stabilizes blood pressure, and can help support healthy weight loss.
It is therefore important to know which kinds of dairy products can be consumed to aid weight loss.
While whole milk (3.3% fat) tastes superior to 2%, 1%, or fat free milk, it does contain a higher percentage of fat, and the goal is to lose weight, it is better to rather reach for the 1% milk.
One thing is certain, and that is regardless of the fat content, milk contains good nutrients, and its protein and fat content contributes to satiety. It is therefore possible to drink milk in moderation while also achieving your weight loss goals.
A cup of 2% milk contains 125 kcal of energy.
In ancient India, the combination of yoghurt and honey was called “the food of the gods”, and yoghurt was believed to hold medicinal properties.
Yoghurt can increase the metabolic rate, and contains a variety of pre- and probiotics, which help support and maintain the natural bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract which aids digestion. Yoghurt is also high in protein and calcium to support muscle growth and bone health.
A whole cup of fruit flavored, low fat yoghurt contains 243 kcal of energy, while a whole cup of plain, low fat yoghurt contains only 154 kcal of energy.
What nobody tells you
It is easy to fall into the cycle of crash dieting, quitting, regaining any lost weight and taking up another crash diet. This ‘yo-yo’ property is characteristic of most crash diets, and can be very demotivating to those who really want to lose the weight. It is also very bad for your health!
Losing weight, especially if you are overweight and obese, can be very beneficial to your health, but the way in which the weight is lost is very important. Weight loss should be achieved by following a healthy, balanced and sustainable diet.
Afterall, why put in all the hard work and effort to lose the weight by starving yourself, if you are only going binge eat afterward and pick up all the lost weight again ?
There is no quick or easy solution to lose weight fast and keep it off !
Unfortunately, the only way to lose weight sustainably and keep it off long term, is by eating healthy foods in moderation, and adding in at least 30 minutes of exercise 4 – 5 days a week.
This does not mean that you should run 5 miles every day. They key is to start off by taking a brisk walk around the block, then build up slowly and start including more vigorous exercises more regularly as your fitness level rises.
Your exercise routine should include a combination of cardiovascular exercises, like biking, hiking, or jogging and strength training such as weight-lifting or resistance exercises for maximum results.
If you want to know more about the topic, here are the 12 exercices to lose belly fat !
Remember : a healthy, balance diet does not require that any food item be excluded, but rather that all food items should be consumed in moderation, and creating a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity.