Seductive foods seem to lurk at every turn, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. But many foods that have gotten a bad rap aren’t so terrible after all. Learn which tempting treats can actually help you lose weight and keep it off.
When it comes to healthy eating, few foods have sparked as much debate as eggs. The latest research suggests an egg a day is safe and nutritious for most adults — and if you eat that egg for breakfast, you’ll boost your odds of losing weight. The reason: Eggs are packed with protein, which takes time to digest. Eating protein in the morning keeps your stomach full, so you eat less during the rest of the day.
Rather than avoiding pasta when you’re dieting, make the switch to whole grain and keep your portions small. Research suggests people who eat several servings of whole-grain foods per day are more likely to slim down and maintain healthy weights. According to one study, eating whole grains rather than refined grains can also help burn belly fat.
Nuts may be high in fat, but it’s the good kind. And they are also rich in nutrients, protein, and fiber, which can help stabilize blood sugar. Sure, you’ll get a few extra grams of fat from munching on a handful of nuts, but it’s worth it if it helps you avoid reaching for cookies or other sweets. Even peanut butter can be a dieter’s friend. In one study people who ate a handful of nuts a day were slimmer and even lived longer.
Dieters often try to cut calories by nixing calcium-rich dairy foods, but some studies suggest this is a mistake. One theory is that the body burns more fat when it gets enough calcium, so eating low-fat cheese, yogurt, and milk may actually contribute to weight loss. Calcium supplements don’t seem to yield the same benefits, so a diet rich in dairy may have other factors at work as well. Dairy foods are also rich in protein, which helps keep you feeling full.
Coffee only falls in the “bad” category when you drink too much of it (four or more cups a day) or mix in cream, sugar, or flavored syrups. If you drink it black, you get a metabolism boost without added fat and calories. Drink it skinny: Stir in skim milk for added calcium and vitamin D, and artificial sweetener or one teaspoon of sugar.
We love salt because it makes our food taste great. Salt also helps keep our fluids balanced, helps transmit nerve impulses and helps the heart and other muscles contract. The key is to not overdo it. To keep your daily intake under control, choose fresh foods, not canned, and season them yourself.
Despite their bad reputation, potatoes are actually a health food. Plus, potatoes are loaded with complex carbohydrates and fiber, which help keep you full longer. But this is all provided they’re not fried or slathered in butter and cheese. Baked or boiled and mixed with low-fat toppings, potatoes are more than just suitable, they’re a smart diet choice.
During the low-carb diet craze of the 1990s, bread got a seriously bad rap. While it’s true that bread is loaded with carbohydrates, that’s not why it causes people to gain weight. Dense breads like bagels and wraps have anywhere from two to four times the calories of a regular slice of bread because they’re compressed. So switch to regular once which can keep you full whole day.
If you’re trying to lose weight, one of the first things your dietitian may tell you is to eliminate white rice from your diet, but not because it’s awful for you—because it’s hard to control your portion size. When consumed moderately, rice is not only rich in hunger-fighting complex carbohydrates plus protein and fiber when it’s brown rice, but it’s also relatively low in calories which is what counts when it comes to weight loss. Plus, like pasta, rice welcomes healthy pairings, like veggies and protein.
10. Bad Foods — Good Portions
Just about any “bad” food can be part of your weight loss plan if you stick to small enough portions. In fact, dietitians advise against banning your favorite treats. Depriving yourself of the foods you crave could set you up for failure. A better strategy is to set limits on quantity — for example, one chocolate truffle a day — and stick to them.
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