We see the ads and commercials that promise miracle weight loss solutions. We're asked to believe there really is a secret solution to losing those extra pounds. Although there is a solution, it's certainly no secret: healthy eating can help you lose weight.
This doesn't mean only eating meals of greens or frozen cuisine. In fact, making these five simple additions to your diet can help you kick off or maintain your weight loss plan, and feel satisfied.
1. Whole grains
Whole grains contain fiber, which adds volume to your food without adding a lot of extra calories. Because whole grains take more time to absorb into the bloodstream, they help to stabilize your blood sugar and control your cravings and hunger. Fiber also absorbs water and expands in your stomach to help you feel full longer.
Although some may sound unfamiliar, don't be afraid to try whole grains that are new to you. These are excellent whole-grain options:
- Brown rice
- High-fiber cereal
- Whole-wheat bread
- Whole-wheat couscous
- Whole-wheat pasta
2. Hot beverages
Sipping a hot, low-calorie beverage is a great way to stave off the midday munchies. And because they're hot, you can't gulp them down quickly. Hot beverages force you to drink slowly, savor the flavor and take a moment to relax. Look for beverages with less than 100 calories like:
- Cappuccino with low-fat or fat-free milk
- Diet hot cocoa
- Green tea and herbal teas
- Skim latte
3. Fruits and vegetables
Foods high in water, such as fruits and vegetables, help to fill your stomach without excess calories. You can eat a large volume of fruits and vegetables and feel full. Try to eat at least five servings daily, which will make less room for more calorically dense foods.
Fruit super pick: Apples are available all year long and are fairly affordable. Their thicker skin allows you to throw them in a purse, gym bag or car without being damaged. Your local market should carry a wide selection of apple types for any taste, including tart Granny Smith, crunchy Fuji and mild Yellow Delicious.
4. Lean proteins
When paired with carbohydrates like whole grains, protein can help stabilize your blood sugar and extend your sense of fullness. Choosing lean proteins will also help keep your caloric intake down for the day. Good sources include chicken breast, canned light tuna, wild salmon, egg whites, crab, shrimp, tilapia, turkey breast, tofu, lean red meat, low-fat dairy products, beans and lentils.
Lean protein super pick: Not only is fish one of the leanest proteins, it contains essential omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden death.
5. Low-fat and nonfat dairy products
Low-fat dairy products can help you feel fuller while providing necessary protein and fat. Although calories still count, studies show that obese adults who ate a high-dairy diet lost significantly more weight than those who ate a low-dairy diet containing the same number of calories.
Dairy super pick: Nonfat Greek yogurt is creamier and higher in protein than regular nonfat yogurt. Add calorie-free sweeteners, honey or fruit to the yogurt to make a tasty and filling breakfast or snack. Or mix in a packet of powdered ranch dressing to make a delicious and thick, low-calorie dip.