Unimeal
BlogNutrition19 Foods to Eat When Trying to Lose Weight & Foods to Avoid

19 Foods to Eat When Trying to Lose Weight & Foods to Avoid

12 mins read
Viktoriia Volyk
Written by Viktoriia Volyk on September 23, 2022
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN

Dr. Olena Avdiievska is a nutritional and medical expert at Unimeal. She is an MD and RDN in Dietology and nutrition and a university professor with 76 scientific publications. 

Unimeal provides articles with trustworthy and experts-proved information. Our health content is reviewed by professional nutritionists and trainers to extract for users the most verified and medically checked data.
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

The Unimeal team works to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. All texts are reviewed by a panel of experts and editors and updated according to the latest research. Only evidenced-based and verified sources of leading medical publications and universities get into the article materials.

Losing weight is not rocket science but still raises many questions. As some diets are too dull and restrictive, many people fail to achieve or maintain results. We will explain what to eat to lose weight and how to manage your diet.

Table of content

What Food is Good for Losing Weight and Why

In fact, fat-burning foods and foods with negative calories don’t exist. The only exception is cold water or ice because your body spends energy to warm them up. So what food choices are actually good for weight loss? 

Eat tasty food and lose weight with Unimeal app!

Take a Quiz – Get personal meal plan – Achieve your weight goals!

Start Quiz
Start Quiz

You need a calorie deficit to lose weight. Consume fewer calories than you burn on a daily basis, and you will see results. The tricky thing is that eating less might cause food cravings and mood swings.

For better comfort during weight loss, pick foods that give you enough energy and don’t make you hungry too soon. Include more protein in your diet as it takes longer to digest and keeps your stomach full. It also protects your muscle mass, and you will primarily lose fat.  

In addition, complex carbohydrates, foods rich in fiber, and monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats are also necessary for a healthy weight loss diet.

healthy foods
healthy foods

Use this list of weight loss foods with recipes to prepare versatile meals:

1. Chicken 

Chicken is easy to cook, cheap, and high-protein food. It also contains calcium and phosphorous. Chicken breasts are not the only option for weight loss. You can eat chicken wings and thighs as well. Replace plain boiled chicken with roast chicken, chicken salads, or chicken wraps.  

2. Squid 

Choose squid (also named calamari) if you are looking for low-calorie and high-protein food. It contains 18g of protein and only 2g of fat per 100g. Same as most seafood, calamari goes well with garlic, lemon, lime, cream sauce, basil, and other greens. You can bake, fry, boil, or steam squids.  

squid
squid

3. Tuna 

Tuna is a lean fish full of protein, Omega-3 (also known as fish oil), vitamins, and minerals. You can find several options: canned tuna, tuna fillets, or tuna stakes. Use it in pasta, salads, sandwiches, burgers, sushi and sashimi, or poke bowls. 

4. Salmon

Salmon contains a lot of Omega-3, which is essential for heart health and good skin condition. It is also a source of high-quality protein and selenium. You can buy smoked or salted salmon that doesn’t need any preparation or easily cook it at home

5. Shrimps 

Shrimps are another lean protein source that works especially well for people who can’t or choose not to eat meat. 100g of cooked shrimps with no oil added contain 21g protein and only 2g fat. Add shrimps to salads, pasta, rice bowls, soups, and noodles or eat them separately. 

shrimps
shrimps

6. Beef 

Choose lean or ground beef as a part of your weight-loss diet. Such meat contains significantly more protein than fats and no carbohydrates at all. Freshly-cooked beef steak is a healthy meal that gives you enough protein to maintain your muscle mass when you lose weight. Beef can become a great snack too. Look for beef sticks in grocery stores or prepare dried beef yourself in an oven. 

7. Eggs

Eggs are a popular choice for breakfast. It’s no wonder because there are many ways to cook and serve eggs. Eating eggs for breakfast also tames your hunger for at least 3 hours as they are very satiating due to the high amount of protein and fats. You can prepare boiled, poached, fried, and scrambled as a separate dish or use them as an ingredient for a sandwich, salad, or omelet. 

eggs
eggs

8. Greek yogurt 

Greek yogurt contains two times more protein than regular yogurt and also has probiotic bacteria that improve digestion. For better weight management, choose whole and sugar-free options without additives and fillings. You can eat yogurt with fruits and nuts, prepare overnight oatmeal with it, and use it as a dressing for fruit salads. 

9. Asparagus  

Asparagus is a low-carb perennial plant rich in potassium, vitamin K, vitamins B9, B1, B2, vitamin A, and fiber. You can add fresh asparagus in raw salads, roast, steam, or bake it.

10. Cucumbers 

As cucumbers consist of 96% water, they hydrate your body and have low calorie density. They provide you with vitamin K, calcium, and vitamin D. Put cucumbers in salads, smoothies, sandwiches, or add a couple of slices to your water bottle. 

11. Avocados 

Beloved by many health & fitness influences, avocados are a wonderful source of healthy fats that provide long-term satietyand reduce the risk of heart diseases. Moreover, there are countless interesting recipes for avocados. You can use avocado slices or guacamole to prepare sandwiches, salads, appetizers, or even soup toppings. Add avocados to smoothies and desserts to make them more filling. 

avocados
avocados

12. Beans 

Beans in all variations are a great source of plant protein and starch as they belong to a food group of legumes. It makes dishes made of pulses a must-have in all vegetarian and vegan diets. Moreover, they contain probiotics that help digestion and promote satiety

Most popular cooking options include beans in tomato sauce, steamed or boiled green beans, or fried beans in traditional English breakfast.  

13. Broccoli 

Like any other greens, broccoli contains a lot of fiber and a few calories. Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, which means it is rich in folate and vitamin K. Apart from losing weight, broccoli also helps reduce inflammation

If plain boiled broccoli seems like a tasteless dish to you, try roasted broccoli, broccoli cream soup, and adding it to pasta or rice bowls. 

14. Watermelon 

As 90% of watermelon is just water, this fruit is a perfect choice for weight loss. One 100g serving is just 30 calories. Watermelon’s sweetness makes it a great dessert that will keep you hydrated and won’t harm your body.

watermelon
watermelon

15. Zucchini 

Zucchini, or courgette, is rich in antioxidants and is beneficial for your digestion. Of course, they  are low-carb, and also contain a lot of fiber and vitamins. There are thousands of dishes where you can add zucchini, from raw salads, stews, and soups to stuffed zucchini, zucchini noodles, and ratatouille. 

16. Nuts 

Nuts are relatively high in fats, which gives you lots of energy but doesn’t make you hungry too soon. Studies have shown that despite being so high in calories, nuts make your overall calorie consumption lower. Almonds will be the best choice in this case

Nuts are easy to transport and have a long shelf line. That is why they are perfect as snacks. Nut butter and nut dressings are also a good choice. In addition, you can put them in your oatmeal, salads, and desserts. 

17. Popcorn

Popcorn might not seem an obvious choice while discussing weight loss. However, as it is not high-density food, it makes your stomach full faster than other snacks. One average cup of popcorn without butter and artificial flavors has around 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber

Make sure you choose air-popped, not oil-popped popcorn. Sweet popcorn is also a lot higher in calories. 

popcorn
popcorn

18. Berries 

Most berries contain lots of antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and are low in calories. 3.5 ounces or 100 grams of strawberries contain only 32 calories. You can eat fresh or dried berries as a snack, add them to oatmeal, yogurts, or desserts, prepare acai bowls, and make smoothies. 

19. Coffee 

Coffee speeds up your metabolism and even leads to consuming fewer calories. But be aware that adding milk, syrup, sugar, cream, or anything else can make your drink not so innocent. For those who like a snack with a cup of coffee: use berries or nuts instead of sweets.

Foods to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight 

Set no limits for yourself! You can still maintain a calorie deficit even with some junk food in your diet. It is even beneficial to your mental health as you don’t have to live with restrictions. So you can treat yourself with some not perfectly healthy meals or snacks from time to time. There will be no harm to your body.

Of course, you need to maintain healthy proportions in your diet. 80/20 or Pareto principle works well in many areas of life, and diets are no exception. For example, if you need to eat 1600 calories a day, you can leave up to 320 calories for whatever you want to eat. It can be a piece of chocolate, some cookies, or pastry. You can also replace your favorite junk foods with healthier or lower-calorie options. 

Control the amount of high energy density foods you consume, such as nuts, sauces and dressings, sugary snacks, and cheese. 

Avoid situations when you cannot control the amount of food you eat. It is quite easy to eat a huge bowl of chips and drink 2 liters of cola when you binge-watch Netflix. You won’t eat that much in usual circumstances. So try to be present and conscious during each meal. 

food options
food options

The bottom line 

You can lose weight, eat tasty food, and enjoy life at the same time. Knowing what food is better for weight loss gives you freedom, not boundaries. You can effortlessly consume fewer calories by just picking the right foods and adjusting a few details in your diet. Try different foods and cooking methods from this list to find what’s perfect for you.

How do you feel about my article?

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

☝️

By choosing high-quality sources, we make sure that all articles on the Unimeal blog are reliable and trustworthy. Learn more about our editorial processes.

1.
Champagne CM, Broyles ST, Moran LD, Cash KC, Levy EJ, Lin PH, Batch BC, Lien LF, Funk KL, Dalcin A, Loria C, Myers VH. (2011, December). Dietary intakes associated with successful weight loss and maintenance during the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial J Am Diet Assoc. DOI:10.1016/j.jada.2011.09.014
2.
USDA (2018, April). Chicken, broilers or fryers, breast, meat only, cooked, roasted. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171477/nutrients
3.
USDA (2018, April). Mollusks, squid, mixed species, cooked, fried. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171982/nutrients
4.
USDA (2016). Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/omega-3-fats/
5.
USFDA (2018, November 31). Nutrition Information for Cooked Seafood (Purchased Raw). U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/nutrition-information-cooked-seafood-purchased-raw
6.
USDA (2018, April). Beef, loin, tenderloin steak, boneless, separable lean only, trimmed to 0" fat, choice, cooked, grilled. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170642/nutrients
7.
Ratliff J, Leite JO, de Ogburn R, Puglisi MJ, VanHeest J, Fernandez ML. (2010, February). Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men. Nutr Res. DOI:10.1016/j.nutres.2010.01.002
8.
USDA (2018, April). Yogurt, Greek, plain, whole milk. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171304/nutrients
9.
USDA (2018, April). Asparagus, raw. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168389/nutrients
10.
Mukherjee PK, Nema NK, Maity N, Sarkar BK. (2012, October 23). Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia. DOI:10.1016/j.fitote.2012.10.003
11.
USDA (2018, April). Pickles, cucumber, dill or kosher dill. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/324653/nutrients
14.
Kim SJ, de Souza RJ, Choo VL, Ha V, Cozma AI, Chiavaroli L, Mirrahimi A, Blanco Mejia S, Di Buono M, Bernstein AM, Leiter LA, Kris-Etherton PM, Vuksan V, Beyene J, Kendall CW, Jenkins DJ, Sievenpiper JL. (2016, March 30). Effects of dietary pulse consumption on body weight: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.115.124677
15.
Jang, M.-W., & Ha, B.-J. (2012,December 31). Effects of Broccoli on Anti-inflammation and Anti-oxidation According to Extraction Solvent. Journal of Food Hygiene and Safety. DOI:10.13103/JFHS.2012.27.4.461
16.
USDA (2018, April). Watermelon, raw. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167765/nutrients
17.
Macfarlane S, Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH (2006, September 1). Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.03042.x
18.
Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. (2011, June 23). Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. N Engl J Med. DOI:10.1056/NEJMoa1014296
19.
Wien MA, Sabaté JM, Iklé DN, Cole SE, Kandeel FR. (2003, November 27) Almonds vs complex carbohydrates in a weight reduction program. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. DOI:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802411.
20.
USDA (2018, April). Snacks, popcorn, air-popped. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167959/nutrients
21.
USDA (2018, April). Strawberries, raw. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1102710/nutrients
22.
Acheson KJ, Gremaud G, Meirim I, Montigon F, Krebs Y, Fay LB, Gay LJ, Schneiter P, Schindler C, Tappy L. (2004, January) Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling? Am J Clin Nutr. DOI:10.1093/ajcn/79.1.40
23.
Schubert MM, Irwin C, Seay RF, Clarke HE, Allegro D, Desbrow B. (2017, December) Caffeine, coffee, and appetite control: a review. Int J Food Sci Nutr. DOI:10.1080/09637486.2017.1320537