If you're carrying some extra cushion around your midsection, you're not alone. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, over one in three men and one in four women in the U.S. are overweight. While we know that losing weight requires discipline, sacrifice, and a steadfast commitment to avoiding all things delicious, what if we told you that not all "bad" foods are created equal? In fact, some of these common dietary villains believed to contribute to weight gain may have a surprising secret—they can actually support you in your weight loss journey. In this article, we're sharing eight "bad" foods that help weight loss.
Eat This, Not That! spoke with registered dietitians and weight loss experts who share eight mouthwatering foods that will challenge everything you thought you knew about losing weight. From sweet and delicious to salty and savory, you're bound to discover a food you can indulge in while shedding those stubborn pounds.
Keep reading if you're ready to level up your weight loss strategy and find out which "bad" foods help weight loss. Then, don't miss these 6 'Bad' Carbs That Are Actually Good For Weight Loss.
Don't let the calories in peanut butter deter you from savoring this delicious spread. Packed with healthy fats and protein, peanut butter helps keep you full and reduces overall calorie consumption. However, moderation is key. Opt for natural peanut butter with minimal added sugars and preservatives.
"Natural peanut butter without added sugars and unhealthy oils contains healthy fats and protein. A small amount can be a satisfying and nutrient-rich addition to your diet," says Trista Best, RD, a registered dietitian with Balance One Supplements.
Surprisingly, whole-fat yogurt can aid in weight loss. According to research, whole-fat dairy products won't result in added weight. As a matter of fact, eating dairy can decrease body fat and boost your lean body mass. Plus, whole-fat yogurt is rich in probiotics, promoting good gut health, which plays a role in weight management.
Blanca Garcia, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Blanca Garcia Consulting, tells ETNT, "Whole-fat yogurt is rich in cholesterol. The body needs cholesterol for cell structure and hormone transport, but consuming this type of yogurt helps reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Reducing the bad type of cholesterol can also support weight loss."
This one should make you smile. While it may sound counterintuitive, dark chocolate can support healthy weight loss when enjoyed in moderation. Dark chocolate has antioxidants that may increase metabolism and reduce cravings for sugary alternatives.
"Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or more) is relatively low in sugar and contains antioxidants," says Best. "It can satisfy sweet cravings without derailing your weight loss efforts when consumed in moderation."
Deli sandwiches can be either a diet disaster or a healthy meal. To make them work for your weight loss goals, it's all about choices. Opt for whole-grain bread and lean proteins, and load up on veggies. This combination will provide energy, fiber, and nutrients that keep you satisfied and your calorie intake in check. Plus, it will fill you up, so you're not likely to pick on unhealthy snacks.
"Most of the time, deli sandwiches are heavy in carbohydrates and meats. But not all deli sandwiches are equal," explains Garcia. "You can choose a flatbread to reduce carbohydrate intake or whole-wheat bread to increase fiber intake. Reduce the meat and increase vegetables for a high-fiber, low-carbohydrate sandwich."
Despite the creamy texture and calorie density, avocados offer healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber which keep hunger at bay. A cross-sectional National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) study found that those who eat avocados regularly had substantially lower body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference than those who don't.
"Avocados are calorie-dense due to their healthy fat content, but these monounsaturated fats can help keep you feeling full and satisfied, reducing overall calorie intake," says Best.
Don't skip having eggs at breakfast. According to a 2020 study, enjoying eggs for your first meal of the day can help satisfy hunger. That's because this food is nutrient-dense and protein-packed, aiding in appetite control.
"Over the years, scientists have gone back and forth about eating or not eating eggs because of the cholesterol in the yolk," states Garcia. "But, when eaten in moderation, eggs provide an excellent source of protein, vitamin B2, B5, and B12, as well as choline and phosphorous. These are essential nutrients for a balanced body. Protein helps you feel full longer and reduces excess consumption of other foods, helping support weight loss."
Nuts might be calorie-dense, but they're an excellent weight-loss snack. Research shows daily nut consumption is linked to decreased long-term weight gain and a lower risk of obesity. Just be mindful of portion sizes, as the calories can add up quickly.
"Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are calorie-dense but packed with healthy fats, protein, and fiber. A small portion can provide satiety and prevent overeating," says Best.
Bananas, although slightly higher in calories than other fruits, offer significant benefits for weight management. They're packed with essential nutrients and fiber, providing a sense of fullness that can curb your overall calorie intake.
"Bananas are sweet and delicious but often mistaken for an unhealthy fruit because of their sugar content," says Garcia. "However, bananas are high in fiber, which can help trap any extra sugars the body doesn't need—reducing the possibility of storing that extra sugar as fat. Bananas also help stools move along the intestinal tract and reduce fat levels in the blood by reducing the low-density lipoproteins to help support weight loss."
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