The world of dieting is, undoubtedly, growing more complicated every year.
Specifically, the idea of exactly what you should eat for weight loss has become one of the most complicated aspects. Should you go full keto, low carb, high carb, vegan? Which foods are truly good or bad for you? And which ones actually support weight loss?
We all know the old adage, “20% of weight loss is exercise and the other 80% is food,” which rings extremely true. The reason so many diets are centered around specific foods is because this concept is so important for losing weight. No matter how active you are, you just can’t out-exercise a bad diet, so eating the right food is crucial for reaching your optimum body weight.
Because of the complications surrounding diets, I’m going to walk you through some of the foods that can help you lose weight and stay healthy, plus give you a couple of recipes that have helped me along the way.
How Should I Be Eating For Weight Loss?
Eating for weight loss ultimately means understanding calories. To keep it simple, calories are the units of energy that your body needs to survive. You burn a certain amount of calories every day just from being alive, and you get your calories from food. If you eat more calories than you burn, your body starts storing this energy as fat to be used later.
One pound is about equal to 3,500 calories. So if you’re looking to lose weight, you need to be eating at a calorie deficit – you should be eating just enough to power your body every day but not in excess.
You can increase the number of calories you’re burning by increasing your exercise, but it’s much harder to burn consumed calories than it is to simply eat less, so you should be doing a combination of the two for the most effective weight loss.
Your body does process foods differently, so it’s important to be eating nutritiously while counting calories. Some things you should be avoiding include highly processed foods and low-quality carbohydrates that just add filler calories without nutrition. Eating as clean and fresh as possible will increase the quality of your diet and get you to your goals sooner.
Foods That Can Help Speed Up Your Weight Loss:
When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to view all food as “the enemy.” In reality, there are many foods that can actually help you lose fat that don’t need to be avoided. Check them out:
This is probably a no-brainer – no matter what, you should be eating lots of veggies for the nutrition. Diets high in vegetables are even better for weight loss since studies show that eating a diet packed with nutritious and low-calorie veggies can increase the volume of food you’re eating while still reducing calories. [*]
Make it a point to include vegetables in every meal and keep it diverse to keep you satisfied. Add leafy greens, cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash … anything to add to the volume of your meal with maximum nutrition and minimal calories.
• Lean protein
Not only does getting enough lean protein help you rebuild muscle and keep your body functioning normally, but it can actually increase your body’s energy use (aka: calorie burn) and therefore lead to heightened fat burning! [*]
Include high quality cuts like chicken, turkey, and grassfed beef into your meals to keep you satisfied and shedding the extra weight.
• High-fiber foods
If you hate the thought of dieting because you don’t want to feel like you’re starving, foods filled with fiber can help.
Fibrous foods take longer for your body to digest and so keep you feeling satiated for longer than processed, poorer-quality, and rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates. Add some chia, flax seeds, and avocado to your diet (they’re awesome in smoothies and salads) so you can stay fuller longer, and be less tempted to reach for the sweets.
• Wild, Fatty Fish
Wild, fatty fish is rich in omega-3s, protein, and vitamin D. Interestingly, one study found that obese individuals who supplemented with vitamin D experienced weight loss, while also finding that vitamin D deficiency was associated with obesity. [*] Indulge in wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel several times a week.
• Green tea
You may have heard that green tea does wonders for aging, but it’s also chock-full of antioxidants called catechins, which studies suggest may be beneficial for reducing body weight. [*]
If you’re a caffeine fiend, consider replacing some of your cups of coffee throughout the day with its gentler green cousin every once in a while.
Recipes For Weight Loss:
Below are a few recipe suggestions to start with. You’ll notice that many of these are a bit lower-carb; this is to minimize blood sugar spikes, which can lead to fat storage. (p.s.: you’ll also notice that despite being “healthy,” these babies are loaded with flavor. It’s all in the spice.)
Salads are a staple for weight loss, but we’re not talking about the boring garden variety. A healthy serving of protein will keep you full, while appropriate serving sizes of avocado and olive oil will provide healthy fats to make it satisfying.
Nutrition-packed bowls with lean protein, vegetables, and healthy fats that are still low in carbohydrates can help you cut the calories while still satisfying your cravings. Use low-carbohydrate grain alternatives like cauliflower rice to add volume and serve as the base for weight loss friendly recipes.
This skillet is low-carb and gut-friendly while still packed with flavor. Make sure to season the food in your weight-loss recipes well so they can still give you the flavor you crave.
Quick and easy sheet pan meals prove that eating on a calorie deficit doesn’t have to be a bummer. This recipe takes classic chicken fajitas and throws in an unexpected ingredient (pineapple!) to add flavor and variety while still cutting the calories and carbs.
Fish is a lean protein choice that also gives you the added benefit of omega-3s (fact check) which can aid in weight loss! This recipe is perfect for sushi lovers – just cut out the sticky rice and you’re left with the base flavors that make this meal a favorite.
Cooking for weight loss doesn’t need to be complicated. Take your favorite flavors and toss them in a skillet with lean protein and vegetables for a satisfying meal that powers your day.
Losing weight doesn’t have to be boring and unsatisfying. When you cut out the overly-processed, toxic inredients and focus on eating clean, whole foods at correct portions, the weight will fall off. For the best results, keep track of your food intake and daily calorie burn to nail down the best weight loss strategy for you.
If you’re interested in adding huge flavor to your dishes with all-natural, delicious spice blends, check out my spice shop, Flavor Republic.