Most diets result in weight loss but not all produce sustainable outcomes. Fad diets and clever marketing tend to over promise and under deliver. If you want to lose weight naturally and healthily, you need to make healthy nutrition part of your lifestyle.
The fundamental principle of long lasting weight loss is to choose foods that are high in nutrients and will keep your blood sugar levels low, while tapping into your body’s natural weight loss abilities.
Most health gurus agree that the healthiest way to achieve weight loss is to reduce your salt and sugar intake by cutting down on processed foods and include more fibre rich fruit and veggies in your diet as they’re nutrient dense and keep you feeling full for longer. Yes, you heard right; whole plant-based foods are best for helping you lose weight naturally. This doesn’t mean you need to eliminate lean meats and dairy completely; just aim to maintain a healthy balance.
To support you on your weight loss journey, here’s our list of the top seven must have’s on your table:
- Leafy Greens & Cruciferous Veg
Kale, spinach, swiss chard and other leafy greens are high in fibre and low in calories. They provide an easy way to add density to your plate. In a study published in the National Institute of Health, it was found that leafy greens and cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, broccoli & cabbage help to suppress your hunger pangs while optimizing your nutritional intake. Cabbage and spinach can be eaten raw, in salads and slaws, or cooked in a curry or stew. Leafy greens are delicious in a stir-fry, a power packing smoothie or tossed in a green salad.
- Beans & legumes
The fibre, protein and slowly digested carbs present in legumes help keep you feeling satiated. Dry roasted beans and soy bean, which are high in magnesium, also help to lower stress hormones and combat depression, both of which contribute to overeating.
Wrap them in leafy greens for a plant-based taco or add lentils and kidney beans to your salads. Rev up your taste buds with spicy beans on crunchy sourdough ciabatta. Turn your humble chickpeas into winning chickpea cakes with a quick spin in the food processor and serve with a rainbow slaw combining red and green cabbage.
Weighing in at 160 calories and 15 grams of fat, avocados have unfairly earned a bad rep as a fattening fruit. The monounsaturated fat actually helps your body burn fat for energy, as opposed to the same quantity of fat in a packet of chips. Avos also contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and a sugar called mannoheptulose which helps the body reduce insulin resistance. Boasting a perfect combination of fat, fibre and healthy whole carbohydrates, avos enable the body to burn more fat. This creamy fruit is delicious in a salsa, Waldorf salad, a BLT sandwich and off course, in a guacamole spread or dip.
- Chia seeds
These miniscule seeds are a protein powerhouse and are also high in fibre – one ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fibre and 4 grams of protein. Sprinkle them over your breakfast cereal, yoghurt or add chia & flaxseed meal to a smoothie and start your day with a step in the right direction for healthy weight loss. Add chia seeds to mixed nuts for a tasty and convenient healthy snack.
The tart taste of this pink citrus may take some getting used to but it’s well worth the effort. Recent studies show that the simple act of adding grapefruit or grapefruit juice to your diet, especially before food, will help you eat less calories throughout the day. Rich in vitamin C, the grapefruit can be consumed solo, as a juice, or in spritzers and salads. It’s also a great accompaniment to chicken and salmon dishes.
Kimchi is a Korean dish made from salted fermented veggies. It has a wealth of antioxidants that promote healing in medical conditions like cancer, diabetes and obesity. This miracle food reduces bloating and speeds up digestion, has a low calorie count, high fibre content and contains probiotics. In a 4 week study conducted with 22 overweight people it was found that eating Kimchi helped to reduce body mass and BMI. The capsaicin in chilli boosts the fat burning properties of our crunchy Cortido Kimchi with garlic, chilli, radish and ginger.
- Bone Broth
Collagen rich bone broth is a highly nutritious aromatic broth made from simmering the meaty bones of animals and fish. It keeps you feeling nourished and satisfied for longer due to its high content of amino acids, minerals, iron and healthy fatty acids. It assists in weight loss by boosting carbohydrate metabolism and burning fat. Add this liquid gold elixir to your smoothies, sauces, gravies, soups, pasta sauces and casseroles.
The final secret to effective weight loss is to keep well hydrated through the day with adequate amounts of water. Water flushes out toxins which promotes weight loss. For a splash of flavour, add zesty lemon juice or a pinch of Himalayan salt to your glass.
You may also consider a simple form of intermittent fasting by limiting the hours of the day when you eat to an 8-10 hour period, eg 10am to 6pm or 9am to 7pm. There is increasing evidence to suggest that the fasting approach, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, is highly effective for achieving weight loss goals. It is however always important to remember to use an eating approach that works for you and is sustainable to you.
Work these seven super foods into your meal plans and you will be well on the way to achieving your weight loss goals with long lasting results.
About the Author
Carmel Murugen is a freelance health and lifestyle writer with over 25 years’ experience in social work. When she’s not immersed in the latest health and wellness trends, she enjoys good coffee and intriguing legal dramas.
To learn more about her writing services, visit http://csmcreativesolutions.co.za