There’s confusing and misleading weight loss advice everywhere, leaving people at a loss to know what works and what doesn’t. A balanced, plant-based diet, regular exercise, and other factors like sleep, stress, and even relationships can impact weight loss. There are also specific foods that increase the value of all your hard work and patience to shed pounds. Berries top this list.
Naturally sweet berries are packed with pectin, a type of soluble fiber that promotes a feeling of fullness. It has the added benefit of improving insulin resistance that makes weight loss so much more difficult to achieve. While they’re a convenient snack, they can also be added to cereals, jazz up a salad, add substance to low-fat parfaits, or whipped up in a smoothie or fruit drink. Here’s how else berries can help your weight loss journey:
Blast belly fat
Lose that tire around your middle by eating berries. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that blueberries can help you burn that stubborn belly fat by turning on your “get-lean genes”. After a 90-day trial, rats that fed on a blueberry-enriched diet showed significantly reduced abdominal belly fat than the control group. Bonus: a low-fat diet boosted the health benefits of the berry consumption. Rats fed on a diet meeting these two criteria had lower overall fat mass and liver mass than the control group. For a sweet treat at the end of the night, nibble on frozen blueberries. The cold transforms the berries into a sorbet-like texture that will quell your craving for Ben & Jerry’s.
If sugar is your enemy in the battle of the bulge, fiber is your key ally, and berries are your weapon of choice. Another benefit of this mega-fiber is managing your hunger levels with ease. The high fiber content of this tasty fruit also promotes satiety, as our bodies cannot digest it. As a result, it stays in our stomachs longer, expands once it absorbs water and helps you feel full, for longer. So, if you need a little extra boost to get you through the day without resorting to the vending machine, berries are the perfect snack.
For an ideal, low-sugar trail mix, toss together freeze-dried berries with raw nuts and bran cereal. Almonds and walnuts both make healthy additions that will ward off the 3 pm slump. Just make sure to read labels carefully. Dried fruit is often packed with added sugars, clocking in at 13 grams in just 2 tablespoons. Freeze-dried varieties usually boast better nutrition, making them the safer option.
To lose weight, the Mayo Clinic encourages choosing foods with lower energy density; eat a greater volume of food that’s lower in calories to help you feel fuller with fewer calories. Foods that are high in water and fiber content but low in fat, such as berries, are low-energy-dense foods, just what the Mayo Clinic recommends. Just 1 teaspoon of butter, for example, contains about the same calories (30-40 calories) as 1/2 cup of blackberries, blueberries or sliced strawberries.
Strawberries are America’s most popular berry and a one-cup serving has only 53 calories. Other berries such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, are an equally fresh and healthy addition to any weight loss plan. One cup of each adds less than 84 calories and just like strawberries, each is packed with nutrition, and are versatile in the kitchen.
High water content
Fresh berries have a high water content. Most fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of water, which creates weight, volume and juiciness but adds no calories. Foods high in water can contribute significantly to a sense of fullness after eating. In research cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating foods that were prepared by incorporating more water significantly increased the sense of fullness after eating and decreased the calories eaten. Drinking a glass of water with the same food – but with no extra water incorporated into the food – had no effect on feeling full or calories consumed.
Increase fiber content
Berries are also full of fiber -about 4 grams per 1/2 cup serving for blackberries and raspberries, and half that for blueberries, cranberries and strawberries. High-fiber foods take longer to digest, helping you feel fuller, longer, on relatively few calories. According to the CDC, research indicates that eating fruits whole, with their natural fiber, creates greater feelings of fullness than consuming either fruit purée or juice. Add them to your breakfast to start the day off right.
Packed with antioxidants
Berries are very high in antioxidants, natural substances in food that fight oxidation, a natural process associated with cancer, heart disease and aging, during which cells can be damaged. Some berries – black baspberries, red raspberries, boysenberries, Marion berries and strawberries are super-antioxidant foods, with high ORAC values (oxygen radical absorbance capacity). All dark-colored berries are also high in ellagic acid, which has been shown to kill some cancer cells. Berries are also high in vitamin C.
Next time you are hungry, fill up on these delicious, nutrient packed, dense, low calorie, high fiber berries and you’ll see your hard work pay off quicker.