Weight loss is a common health goal that many Americans strive toward. In fact, a 2021 Gallup poll revealed that more than half of U.S. adults want to lose weight, and an average of 26% are actively trying to do so. But when it comes to shedding extra pounds, many people mistakenly believe that you need to spend countless hours in the gym, adopt restrictive diets, or make drastic lifestyle changes. Fortunately, you can lose five pounds or more in no time with some simple dietary adjustments. All it takes is knowing which foods to add more of to your weekly menu. We spoke with Gianna Masi, CPT, RDN, a certified personal trainer and registered dietitian with Barbend, who shares her top 10 foods to lose five pounds fast.
"In order to lose weight, a calorie deficit must be present," states Masi. "How we get to that calorie deficit can vary from person to person and can include their preferences. Managing energy consumed per day is how we lose, maintain, or gain weight. In order to manage a loss or deficit, knowing what dietary items are low, moderate, or high in calories can be helpful."
When you want to lose five pounds, it's important to choose lower-calorie swaps for certain foods that typically contain a lot of unnecessary calories. These "calorie savings" help you shed pounds and can add up to your weight-loss goal, which in this case is five pounds.
Research suggests that nutrition and calorie intake are the most critical factors in the initial stages of weight loss, like when you're looking to melt a quick five pounds in time for that beach vacation. But weight loss isn't just about how you look. By incorporating the foods below into your diet and keeping an eye on your calorie intake, you can quickly shed extra weight and feel amazing from the inside out.
Read on to uncover the 10 best foods to lose five pounds fast and feel better than ever. And for more healthy weight loss advice, be sure to check out these 23 Easy Weight-Loss Meal Prep Recipes.
Choosing the right salad dressing can be a game-changer when aiming to shed pounds. Opt for vinaigrettes or homemade options with olive oil and vinegar, which provide flavor without excessive calories and unhealthy fats.
Masi says, "Swapping high-calorie salad dressing for a lower-calorie option will help save on energy intake. Fat-free dressings and items like Bolthouse Farms use yogurt as the base to make a creamy dressing with less fat."
Make your own hummus or Greek yogurt-based dips instead of buying calorie-dense store-bought dips. These alternatives provide protein and nutrients without sacrificing taste, helping you enjoy dips without the extra calories.
"With football season in full swing, dips and side dishes are abundant. Instead of a typical French onion or ranch dip, try using plain Greek yogurt or plain plant-based yogurt to make a lower-calorie version of your favorite dip," recommends Masi.
Incorporating homemade soups loaded with veggies and lean protein can help support your weight-loss goals.
"Opt for a chicken or vegetable broth instead of a creamy base version," Masi suggests. "Soups are an awesome way to add more hydration and help keep you full. Add a side sandwich or salad with protein to round out the meal."
Believe it or not, popcorn can be a guilt-free snack when prepared correctly. Skip the buttery and heavily salted versions, and opt for air-popped popcorn seasoned with herbs or nutritional yeast. This whole-grain snack is low in calories and high in fiber, making it an excellent option for those trying to lose weight.
"Many of us want to enjoy a salty crunch, and chips don't provide much fiber. Popcorn, however, can be a salty, enjoyable snack that provides a couple of grams of fiber per cup," explains Masi.
Egg whites are a protein-packed, low-calorie option for quick weight loss. Whether scrambled, boiled, or used in omelets, egg whites offer a lean source of protein that keeps you feeling full.
"Eggs, including the yolk, are packed with important nutrients and protein," says Masi. "If you're purely looking to lower your calorie intake, then going from a mostly egg omelet to one egg and the rest egg whites omelet will help reduce the total calories."
To include chicken tenders in a weight loss-friendly meal plan, look for lean cuts, trim the excess fat, and bake or grill them instead of frying.
Masi says, "A crowd favorite, chicken tenders have evolved to be less fried and to include more fiber. That's why I like the cauliflower versions such as 'Caulipower' chicken tenders or making my own at home in a skillet or air fryer."
With no added sugars, unsweetened applesauce can be a healthier alternative to snacks or desserts high in added sugar. Use it as a topping, mix it into recipes, or enjoy it on its own for a flavorful and guilt-free addition to your weight loss plan.
"When baking, use unsweetened applesauce instead of the butter or oil the recipe calls for. This will keep the moisture but lower the total number of calories," says Masi.
Surprisingly, pasta can be part of a weight-loss strategy when chosen wisely. Look for whole-grain or legume-based pasta for added fiber and nutrients. Combine it with plenty of vegetables and lean proteins while moderating portion sizes to create a satisfying and balanced meal that aligns with your weight loss goals.
"Add a friendly addition of spaghetti squash or zoodles to your solo pasta dish," suggests Masi. "Adding these to a pasta dish helps get a more voluminous bowl with fewer calories and adds fiber, which is very helpful to fullness and managing weight."
Yes, you read that right. Pizza can still be on the menu when you're aiming to lose weight. Choose whole-grain crusts, load up on veggies, and opt for lean protein toppings.
"I haven't met anyone who wants to give up pizza, and we shouldn't have to go without our favorite foods," says Masi. "If you want to eat pizza every day, try making your own version at home using a Joseph's Lavash Wrap or English Muffin as the crust. This alone will help you reach a calorie deficit without sacrificing flavor. Some people also may like to try a Banza or Caulipower crust that adds more fiber and is more filling than a traditional crust."
An oil spray can be a handy tool in the kitchen that helps reduce calories and support healthy weight management. You can add flavor to your dishes with just a few spritzes without excess calories.
"Oil has nine calories per gram and little nutritional value, making it a high contributor to weight gain," Masi explains. "When making vegetables or main dishes, we often use oil to cook. While healthy, it does add up quickly to your daily calorie total. A way to manage the amount of oil you're cooking with and consuming is to use a spray bottle to control more of the product more easily than dumping it onto the pan."