It’s very hard to go through your daily life without being bombarded by nutrition advice. Whether you’re flipping channels, browsing social media, or even going through the check-out line at the grocery store, you’re bound to run into ads claiming that you must “eat this” or “avoid that” to lose weight.
Is there any truth to claims made about what to eat to lose weight?
From a strategic standpoint, the answer is actually “yes,” since some foods provide a weight-loss advantage over others. But that doesn’t mean that you have to avoid certain foods entirely to see progress. Before exploring that, let’s take a look at why avoiding or including specific foods might make your fat loss journey more effective, and for some people, maybe even more enjoyable.
Foods To Avoid (Or At Least Limit) If You Want To Lose Weight
The deciding factor in whether you should avoid a certain food entirely will depend on whether you can eat it while still staying under a certain number of calories. Yep, calories are king when it comes to weight loss.
Related: 9 Hacks To Help You Enjoy Your Favorite Foods & Lose Fat
You need to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight – and simply put, some types of food will use up a lot more of your daily calories than others. Most of the food that you would typically think of as “junk food,” the extra sweet and savory goodies you’re accustomed to avoiding when on a diet, are very high in calories relative to how much they fill you up.
Sure, donuts are delicious, but if you have 3 of them in the morning with your coffee, you may have already used up 900 of your 1500 calories for the day! That’s over half your calories gone, and you’ll have eaten very little protein. To make matters worse, donuts don’t exactly keep you full for long, so you’re going to ultimately find yourself battling hunger without having much room left in your daily calorie quota to offset that with more satisfying foods. There are many more filling ways to spend your carbs and fat that will make the dieting process a lot less painful than it would otherwise be.
Now, this doesn’t mean that donuts are taboo or forbidden. It just means that you’re making a tactical spending decision with your food budget for the day. Think of it like this: donuts are an “expensive” choice when you’re on a shoestring calorie budget.
Most people already know that donuts aren’t the best option for supporting weight loss, but many foods that are traditionally thought of as diet-friendly contain a surprising amount of carbs and fat. Fruit juice, granola, smoothies, and avocados are all examples of “healthy” foods that can sabotage your diet if the calories and macros (carbs, fat, and protein) aren’t accounted for.
The more you understand about macros and “calories in vs. calories out,” the more you’ll start to see that the foods “not to eat” are always going to vary based on how much you have to eat for the day, what’s available, and what suits your preferences!
>Related: how to read nutrition labels
Foods That Make Losing Weight Harder Than it Needs To Be
Here are some examples of foods that are high in calories and tend to leave you feeling hungry within a few hours after eating them:
Sweets: Donuts, Pastries, Ice Cream, Cake, Pies, Juices, Cookies, Candy
Savories: Fatty meats, Butter, Cheeses, Nuts, Peanut Butter
It’s not to say that you absolutely MUST avoid these foods at all cost. Instead, realize that they’re going to take a big chunk out of your carb and fat budget for the day without doing much to help you stay feeling full.
Think Of Dieting Like A Budget
What To Eat To Lose Weight
Put simply, the things you should eat are the things that are going to help you stay full, not feel totally deprived, and of course, do a good job of helping you meet your calorie goal for the day.
This includes high-volume, high-fiber foods, or those that occupy a large portion of your plate or bowl without adding a lot of calories.
Veggies are a perfect example of what to eat to lose weight: an entire head of broccoli is only about 90 calories! It’s also high in water content and fiber, so it’s slowly digested and takes up quite a bit of room in your stomach. There are also 90 calories in one stuffed Oreo cookie…but imagine how much fuller you’d feel eating an entire head of broccoli vs eating that Oreo! This is a great way of illustrating what a “high volume” food is. Of course, we don’t want you just munching on broccoli, soaked chia seeds, and oatmeal all day, but consider examples like these when choosing a high-volume, high-fiber food.
Eating high-volume food isn’t the only thing that can help you stick to a lower-calorie diet…eating more protein is also important. People tend to be pretty bad at sticking to weight loss calories, but once they get the right amount of protein, carbs, and fat dialed in, that makes things a lot easier!
Calories aren’t all created equal when it comes to giving you a weight loss advantage. Eating more of your calories in the form of protein can help boost your metabolism, since it’s expensive to process, and some of it is used to build muscle and other tissues rather than being stored as fat. But maybe protein’s greatest benefit for weight loss is that it’s really filling, increasing the likelihood that you’ll eat fewer calories without even trying!
It’s easy to get plenty of carbs and fat, but getting more protein in your diet is probably going to take some planning. The easiest way is to supplement your diet with protein-fortified products like protein shakes, powders, and bars. Those are like the “easy button” of the protein world.
Learn how to avoid being “hangry” while on a diet by watching this short video!
Foods That Make Losing Weight Easier
Here are some great ideas on what to eat to lose weight and make sticking to a diet easier:
Protein: whey powder, ready to drink shakes, lean cuts of meat, canned meats (tuna, chicken), beef jerky, egg whites, non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat string cheese, fish, low-fat cottage cheese, scallops
Carbs: Potatoes, veggies, oats, high-fiber cereal, fruits, baked chips, lentils, beans, rice cakes
Fat (in limited amounts): Almonds, Cheese, Flaxseed, Hazelnuts, Chia seed, Hemp Seed, Macadamia Nuts, Olives, Peanut butter, Sausage, Fatty meats, Fatty fish (salmon)
Remember: when using the flexible dieting approach and counting macros, there’s literally nothing that’s completely off-limits…there are just things that make it easier or harder to hit your macro targets. This gives you greater freedom, flexibility, and peace of mind! Make good choices, allow yourself to be flexible, and the results will follow.
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