12 Foods to Help You Lose Weight

Photo of Daisy Whitbread Written by Daisy Whitbread
BSc (Hons) MSc DipION
Photo of Dr. Patricia Shelton Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Patricia Shelton
Evidence Based. References sourced from PubMed.
12 Foods to Help You Lose Weight

Overweight and obesity are increasing worldwide, having almost tripled since 1975. The World Health Organisation estimates that just under 2 billion adults worldwide are now either overweight or obese. Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese and with this comes an increased risk of various health problems including heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers.

To reduce weight, it is important to follow a healthy, balanced diet, reduce your intake of foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats, increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and stay physically active.

The following foods may also help. They are not simply low calorie foods (although eating plenty of low-calorie foods is essential when trying to manage your weight). The foods below were selected for their ability to support weight loss through mechanisms beyond eating low calorie.

There are several mechanisms through which specific foods can encourage weight loss; some boost metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy or calories your body burns to maintain its vital functions. Others suppress appetite or increase satiety, keeping you feeling full for longer, which results in eating less. Others may reduce fat absorption or storage or even increase fat burning.

The only certain method for losing weight is to take in less energy than you expend. However, the following foods may help a little as part of a healthy eating plan and are all healthy additions to any diet.

You may also find the following weight loss meal plan helpful.

Tips for Healthy Weight Loss

  • Eating Patterns - In order to lose weight, you need to reduce your caloric intake. Some people find that it's easier to eat smaller amounts regularly throughout the day, which can help to prevent unpleasant drops in blood sugar. Others prefer to use intermittent fasting, an approach that restricts eating to a certain time period each day or includes certain days with minimal to no calorie intake. Research has shown that both approaches can be effective, so you can choose the one that works better for you. (41)
  • Sleep - Sleep deprivation leads to the production of a hormone called ghrelin that stimulates appetite and encourages eating energy-dense foods. Good quality sleep on the other hand promotes leptin production, a hormone that helps regulate appetite and energy levels.
  • Physical Activity - as well as burning calories, exercise lowers stress hormones and stimulates the release of "feel-good" chemicals in the brain that lead to healthier behaviors and food choices. Resistance exercise such as weight lifting also builds muscle, which increases metabolic rate.
  • Low Stress - The stress hormone cortisol encourages fat storage, especially in the abdominal region, as well as increased appetite and cravings for high calorie, sugary foods. Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and spending time in nature are therefore beneficial.
  • Fruits & Vegetables - Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is associated with having a lower body weight and better overall health. Fruit and vegetables have a low energy density, so they fill you up without providing too many calories. Aim for 7-10 servings per day.
  • Eat Whole Foods - Consumption of highly processed or 'ultra-processed' foods is linked with obesity (42,43,44,45,46). These foods may interfere with metabolism, insulin regulation, and appetite regulation. Limit or avoid these foods and ensure at least 80% of your diet comes from whole foods.

Data Sources and References

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