Too often, weight loss is approached by subtracting or restricting foods. But sometimes adding foods can actually improve weight loss. That’s the case with vegetables. Because they are high in water and fiber they help to satisfy hunger and give the feeling of fullness, especially when consumed before a meal.
They’re also packed with many beneficial nutrients and plant compounds that make them an important part of a healthy diet. In one study, participants who ate a salad at the start of a meal consumed 7–12% fewer calories at that meal. Another study showed that eating a salad at the start of a meal increased vegetable consumption by 23%, compared to eating vegetables with the main course. But, in order to keep your salad low in calories, avoid adding high-calorie ingredients and dressings.
This is the last in a series of foods to add to your diet that are low in calories and high in volume so they help you feel full quicker and eat less. You can read about nuts, legumes, fruit, and probiotic rich foods.
Here’s why adding these in particular can make a difference.
Kale, spinach, collards, swiss chards and a few others have several properties that make them perfect for a weight loss diet. They are low in calories, energy density, and low in carbohydrates, while loaded with fiber. They are considered a powerhouse vegetable, as determined by a 2014 CDC classification defining PFV (power fruits and vegetables) as foods providing, on average, 10% or more daily value per 100 kcal. They are strongly associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases – including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancers. They’re incredibly nutritious and very high in many vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, including calcium, which has been shown to aid fat burning in some studies. Enjoy them in salads, sandwiches or smoothies.
Enjoy this winter squash any time you can get your hands on it. Its an ideal low-calorie alternative to conventional spaghetti. A cup of the cooked squash contains just 42 calories, per the The USDA Nutrient Database. It’s low in fat and carbohydrates while providing fiber and nutrients to help you stay full for longer. Spaghetti squash is a vibrant winter vegetable enjoyed for its nutty flavor and impressive nutrient profile. Closely related to pumpkin, squash, and zucchini, spaghetti squash comes in many different sizes, shapes, and colors, ranging from off-white to dark orange. Add vegetables, chicken, and shrimp with a little pesto and virgin olive oil or a tomato sauce.
These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Like other vegetables, they’re high in fiber and tend to be incredibly filling. What’s more, these types of veggies generally contain decent amounts of protein. They’re not nearly as high in protein as animal foods or legumes, but still high compared to most vegetables. A combination of protein, fiber and low energy density makes cruciferous vegetables the perfect foods to include in your meals for added weight loss benefits. A cup of Brussels sprouts has just 38 calories, per the USDA National Nutrient Database and cauliflower only 27 calories. These vegetables are delicious grilled, sautéed, broiled or fresh in salads and pastas.
With almost 9 grams of fiber per cup, green peas can help you meet your fiber goals and feel full with ease. Since they are rich with insoluble fibers it takes longer to break down and digest which induces the feeling of satiety; if you feel full, you are less likely to binge soon after. They also serve as an excellent vegan source of protein. One hundred grams of this mushy legume contains about five grams of protein, which makes it an excellent source of plant-based protein. A cup of peas contains 118 calories and less than 0.5 grams of fat. The low-fat legume can be used to make many filling and low calories meals. Keep frozen green peas on hand to add bright green color to soups, puree into a pea pesto, add to rice and salads or simply enjoy as a side dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.
Potatoes have several properties that make them a perfect food, both for weight loss and optimal health, since they contain an incredibly diverse range of nutrients- a little bit of almost everything you need. But be careful-they are particularly high in potassium, a nutrient that some patients need to monitor. On a scale called the Satiety Index, which measures how filling different foods are, white, boiled potatoes scored the highest of all the foods tested, and contain 116 calories a cup. If you allow potatoes to cool for a while after boiling, they will form high amounts of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that has been shown to have various health benefits, including weight loss. Sweet potatoes, turnips and other root vegetables are also excellent. Sweet potatoes have a bit more fiber than white potatoes, and a more satisfying sweet flavor that plays well with foods like kale and black beans.
A preliminary study from the Department of Nutrition Science at the University of Buffalo indicates that Portobello mushrooms in particular may help shed weight by regulating blood sugar. Most varieties are low in calories (16 calories in a cup), full of Vitamin D and packed with healthy antioxidants. Mushrooms are full of lean proteins and have negligible fat or cholesterol. They are a great source of chitin and beta-glucan that are fibers which keep a check on your cholesterol levels. The high protein content helps burn excess cholesterol and fat in the body. They are delicious and loved by vegetarians and non-vegetarians, alike. They have even been added to coffees in order to increase their nutritional value. Whether in coffee, salads, pastas, sandwiches, soups or alone, they’re a perfect addition to any menu.
While commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. That said, it’s nutritionally more similar to vegetables than fruits. Beyond its delicious taste, pumpkin is nutritious and linked to many health benefits. Besides being packed with vitamins and minerals, pumpkin is also relatively low in calories (30 calories a cup), as it’s 94% water. It’s also very high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body turns into vitamin A. Moreover, pumpkin seeds are edible, nutritious and linked to numerous health benefits and are a 130 calories a cup if organic but can increase to a whopping 600 in a roasted store-bought bag. Low in calories and high in fiber, pumpkin is one of the best vegetables to include in your weight loss diet. Whether you like to blanch it and eat it in salads or add pumpkin powder to your smoothies and vegetable drinks, pumpkin can help you reach your body goals quicker.
A diet of noshing on carrots will help you lose weight because they’re naturally low in calories and full of nutrients that can help weight loss efforts. A cup of raw or boiled carrot sticks has only 50 calories. They are packed with vitamins, especially vitamin A. Our body converts vitamin A from food into chemicals called retinoids, which interact with our fat cells, and influence new fat cell growth, fat storage and obesity, according to a study published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. This study found that vitamin A may help in reducing that persistent abdominal obesity or belly fat, which leads to more significant and serious health risks. Carrots are also rich in both soluble and insoluble fibre and fit the bill perfectly when it comes to healthy weight loss. Blend it with other fruits or vegetables to make a healthy, nutrient-rich fat burning juice, or stir-fry it along with your meat and vegetable dishes.
Asparagus isn’t as popular a veggie as others on this list, but it’s a wonder food when it comes to burning fat and slimming down. Asparagus is known for making pee smell funny. But it can do so much more, like help you beat bloat and lose weight, thanks to its diurectic properties and high fiber content. This veggie is packed with other nutrients, too, including vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, and protein. Plus, it’s a rich source of antioxidants. Not only is asparagus low in fat and calories (one cup sets you back a mere 32 calories), but it also contains lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, making it a good choice if you’re trying to lose weight. Asparagus also contains the chemical asparagine, which is an alkaloid that acts directly on cells and breaks down fat. You can roast asparagus and directly consume it with dips or stir-fry them along with other vegetables and proteins.
Cucumber has long been known for its numerous health benefits; the ‘cooling’ veggie is said to prevent dehydration and constipation. Moreover, known for its anti-diabetic, lipid-lowering and antioxidant activity, cucumber has a detoxifying and cleansing effect on the overall health. Cucumber provides sufficient amount of essential nutrients including vitamins C and K. Cucumber has zero fat, negligible sugar, high fiber and water content and low-calories (16 calories in a cup), making it an excellent snack for people looking to lose weight. Toss some cucumbers in salads or eat them as is with a dash of lemon juice, salt and black pepper to drop those extra pounds.
So eat up. Everyone one of these delicious vegetables will improve any meal or snack and add to your weight loss efforts.