Spring is in the air! Before you can say “Punxsutawney who?” it’ll be time for the skin-baring clothes that can be unforgiving of winter’s dietary indulgences.
Start your pre-summer slimdown with these nutrient-packed foods coming into season in the spring, along with a few tried and true items available year-round. The benefits of targeting the fruits and veggies that are the first to arrive in your greenmarket are twofold: They’re at optimum freshness, having been grown locally, not shipped from another hemisphere. That also means they’re inexpensive due to lower shipping costs. It’s a win-win! And to discover even more stomach-slimming tips, check out these 55 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism!
These delicate spirals are packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids, and they are only around for a few weeks in early spring. Clean by removing any of the papery outer coating, then soaking them briefly in a bath of cold water with a bit of lemon and salt. Drain and then steam them for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the steamed fiddleheads to a skillet with a few tablespoons of melted butter and cook on each side for a minute or two. They’ll turn golden like asparagus. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
As one of the very first veggies to make it to the farmer’s market in April and May, asparagus is rich in calcium, copper, folate and iron in addition to vitamins A, C, E, K and B6. A 2010 study by the Department of Pharmacology at Kasturba Medical College found that the diuretic quality in asparagus helps to purge toxins from your system. The spears also contain soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, which keeps you feeling full after a meal, since it takes a while for the digestive system to process them. Yes, the sulphurous compound in asparagus, called mercaptan, makes your pee smell funny within 15 to 30 minutes of eating it, but that shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. At only 27 calories per cup, and three grams of protein, it’s a food you can chow down on with zero guilt.
In season from late April to mid July, this stone fruit is the perfect replacement for other more sinful sweets. Loaded with potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A — which promotes good vision, a strong immune system and robust reproductive health — apricots contain have 3 grams of fiber and only 79 calories per cup. “If your goal is to lose weight, you could eat two apricots for dessert, get a great taste of sweetness but really consume very few calories,” says says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, author of The Small Change Diet. And if you are looking to improve your diet and shed a little bit of weight, our advice is to take it slow so you actually keep it off. Here are 50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds—Fast, but not too fast!
This plant might look like celery, but if you’ve ever been adventurous enough to cook with it, you know that this tart vegetable loves to partner with fruit to become a sweet treat. (Just don’t eat the leaves, because they’re poisonous). Rhubarb is high in catechins, the same compound that gives green tea its belly-fat fighting properties. Catechins blast adipose tissue by triggering the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speed up the liver’s capacity for turning that fat into energy.
For far too long, the legume that’s packed with a surprising amount of protein — nine grams per cup — has gotten a bad rap. “People think peas are a starchier vegetable, and not necessarily one that they should be eating, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Gans. These April arrivals to the greenmarket are loaded with nine filling grams of fiber per cup, in addition to a nutritional goldmine of vitamins and minerals: vitamins A, B, B6, C and K, folate, riboflavin, thiamin, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese and iron.
These mushrooms are the third highest vegetable source of vitamin D (only behind two other mushrooms), serving you 23 percent of your DV in a single cup. This vitamin has many biological functions beyond its classic role in bone metabolism, one of which is regulating your immune system. One study found that when vitamin D concentrations were low in a group of runners they had a biomarker for increased inflammation. When your body is in a state of chronic inflammation, it can lead to clogged arteries, worsened insulin resistance, and even weight gain. So besides climbing out of that cold, dreary hole that you dug yourself into this winter and catching some Vitamin-D-producing rays, make sure to grab some morel mushrooms!
Strawberries come into season between mid-April and June, which makes them a great choice for your spring fat-burning diet. “A 2015 study examined the effects of chokeberries, which are high in the plant chemical anthocyanins,” explains Toby Amidor, MS, RD nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More than 130 delicious, healthy recipes for every meal of the day. “The study found that anthocyanins may help decrease belly fat accumulation in rats. Although you can’t find chokeberries very easily in the U.S., you can find strawberries which are overflowing with anthocyanins.” At only 50 calories per cup, they also provide three grams of filling fiber, and loads of metabolism-boosting vitamin C.
While fish is always a great go-to for weight loss, don’t overlook the shellfish that gets sidelined by diet stars like salmon and tuna. “I think shrimp sometimes is forgotten,” Gans says. “Three ounces of steamed shrimp is only 84 calories with 17 grams of protein. I mean, it’s just wild. Being that low in calories that you can do quantity.”
Shrimp is also an excellent source of the antioxidant mineral selenium, which maintains heart health. Those looking to avoid high cholesterol should be aware that there’s 220 milligrams of cholesterol contained in a 4-ounce serving of shrimp but there’s a bright side: these crustaceans also contain heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
As the weather gets warmer, a cool bowl of Greek yogurt, paired with a low-sugar granola and berries, is a refreshing breakfast that will keep you full all morning long. Loaded with potassium, protein, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12, this tart and creamy dairy item is great as a snack or as a substitute for sour cream. And it’s been found to aid in staying slim. “A 2016 study looked at diet quality on the effects of belly fat and concluded that a high quality diet was associated with lower belly fat,” Amidor says. “Foods that were included in a high-quality diet included yogurt.” Gans advises that dieters opt for low-fat Greek yogurt, as opposed to no fat or full fat options, “for satiety, to help fill you up.”
Whole Wheat Pasta
Pull your jaw up from the floor. Yes! A man-made carb can be super, particularly in the psychological benefits of indulging in a not-so-guilty pleasure. “When we look at weight loss, we need to look at foods people love and who doesn’t love pasta?” Gans says. “But we need to eat it in a healthy way. We mix it with the asparagus and the spinach. Maybe we put in some grilled shrimp.” High in B vitamins, copper, selenium, magnesium and manganese, whole wheat pasta is a filling addition to a meal balanced with plenty of veggies and healthy proteins. It’s also loaded with cancer-fighting fiber, which helps lower blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
Sweet potatoes have often outshined the lowly white potato in terms of superfood status. Newsflash: the pale starchy vegetable isn’t the diet enemy so many presume it is. And it has great nutritional benefits. A medium-sized baked potato, which is roughly 110 calories, contains the potassium and fiber that’s beneficial in lowering blood pressure. The tubers are also loaded with vitamins B6 and C, which promote brain function. Just be sure to withhold the sour cream and opt for healthier toppings. “People don’t realize hummus is delicious on a baked potato. Mustard is great on a baked potato. Salsa is great on a baked potato,” Gans says.
There’s nothing like a protein-packed egg to get your body and your diet energized. “A study published in the International Journal of Obesity examined the effects of an egg breakfast, compared to a bagel breakfast containing similar calories, in obese participants lose weight,” explains Amidor. “Those who consumed two eggs in their breakfast while following a lower calorie diet lost 65 percent more weight and reduced their waist circumference by 34-percent compared with those who were on a similar calorie bagel breakfast.”
A 2015 study from Purdue University found that adding eggs to salads increased the body’s ability to absorb carotenoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Amidor also suggests combining eggs with other superfoods for a nutritional double-whammy: “make a seasonal vegetable omelet containing veggies like asparagus, zucchini and tomatoes.” For more antioxidant-rich foods, check out our list of 30 Foods That Fight Inflammation.
If you’ve been keeping warm all winter by sipping on soup, your pants may be feeling tight. Lighten up! You likely haven’t packed on the pounds if you generally stick to a healthy diet; you’re just bloated from all the salty broths. When you consume a lot of sodium the body retains fluids, resulting in a paunchy belly. Luckily, there's a simple solution: Sip some hibiscus tea. Doing so will help your pooch deflate. The flavonoids in the hibiscus plant counteract bloating by influencing how aldosterone, the hormone that regulates water and electrolytes balance, affects the body. We like Alvita’s, Bigelow’s and Good Nature’s varieties.
Rich in muscle-building protein, satiating fiber and vitamins A, C and K, spinach is one of the healthiest greens out there. It also contains powerful appetite-suppressing compounds called thylakoids. Add this leafy spring green to your meals liberally throughout your day and you’ll feel your cravings start to vanish.
With a mild sweet flavor, these wild onions, similar to leeks, are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Plus, like leeks they can pack up to 1 gram of fiber per ramp. You can eat them raw, make a pesto, or add them to eggs (with asparagus!) for an amazingly fresh tasting spring treat. Ramp season is quick, so grab them when you see them or else you just might miss them.
These bitter-sweet spring greens are bursting with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are also a diuretic, which means they can help blast excess weight by helping your body get rid of extra fluids. A recent study found that steaming the greens increases their total antioxidant properties by 67 percent. And studies have found that this plant is protective against obesity as well as depression, fatigue, immune system problems, and even cancer.
One cooked medium artichoke contains a whopping 10.7 grams of fiber, and a half of a cup of artichoke hearts contains 7 grams of fiber. These numbers make artichokes one of the most potent high-fiber foods for weight loss.
An abundant spring green, nettles are also a powerful diuretic best enjoyed as a hot tea for cleansing the liver and ridding the body of excess fluids. By steeping the leaves in water and straining (a French press pot works great for this) you can avoid being stung by the tiny hairs that coat the leaf stems. This plant has been used for years in the UK as a springtime cleanse to rid the body of toxins after a winter filled with fatty foods.
Red Leaf Lettuce
One serving of red leaf lettuce is only 14 calories, but it’s bursting with fiber. It’s the one of the world’s greatest weight loss foods because it will fill you up and keep you feeling full for hours after you eat it.
While I don’t recommend that you go out and try the watercress soup diet (even if Elizabeth Hurley swears by it), this tiny herb is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. In fact, it’s one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet and it’s only 2 calories per half cup. Add it to soups, salads, and smoothies for a belly-fighting boost.