Best Foods for Weight Loss

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Best Foods for Weight Loss

If you’re trying to lose those few pounds that you gained over the winter months or even to lose the twenty or more pounds that you’ve put on since your high school days, you don’t have to be told that losing weight and keeping it off can be hard. It’s not impossible, but there are many temptations, as well as factors in your daily life that pop up along the way.

Fad diets or quick-fix plans can help you lose weight, but the long-term chances of keeping that weight off are slim. That’s because successful weight management means incorporating healthy habits into your lifestyle; these include realistic goal setting, watching portions, making healthy choices, understanding how much and why you eat, and being physically active.

Weight-loss basics

When it comes to making those “healthy choices,” the good news is that there are a lot of foods that you can eat to help you reach and stay at your weight goal. And no, they don’t taste like cardboard! The key is focusing on certain foods in your eating plan. These include foods that are high in:

Foods to limit include:

  • Fried foods
  • Refined carbs (e.g., white bread, pasta, and cereal)
  • Ultra-processed foods, which are foods high in sugar, sodium, and/or hydrogenated fats
  • Sugary drinks
  • Alcohol

You don’t need to avoid these foods entirely; enjoy them as an occasional treat and watch the portion. Speaking of portions, remember that calories count. You can gain weight (or at least, not lose weight) from eating too much of almost anything. Use the plate method as a guide (fill half of your plate with low-carb vegetables, a quarter with protein, and a quarter with a healthy carb food). Use a smaller plate. And consider weighing and measuring your foods if you’re not sure how much you’re eating.

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Foods to eat to lose weight

It’s always best to focus on the positive, so rather than think too much about what you can’t or shouldn’t eat when losing weight, turn your attention to foods that can make it easier to lose weight in a healthy way. Let’s get started!

Lean animal protein

Chicken, turkey, and lean beef are excellent sources of protein. We need protein to build and maintain muscle mass, as well as to make enzymes and hormones, and to build and support collagen, cartilage, ligaments, and bone. Protein can help to stabilize blood sugars and help you feel full.

Fatty fish

Salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. We need these omega-3s to support brain and heart health. And while there isn’t a lot of evidence that omega-3s promote weight loss, choosing fish over fatty cuts of meat helps you save on calories.


Eggs pack a lot of nutrition into a little package. They’re high in protein, vitamins A, D, E, and folate (vitamin B9), as well as choline, iron, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. One large egg has just 78 calories and provide 6 grams of protein. Plus, they have practically no carbohydrate, so they’re a good choice for blood sugar management. They’re filling, too, thanks to their protein content.

Beans, lentils, and peas

Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and dried peas are one of your best bets when it comes to weight loss. They’re high in protein as well as fiber. This means that they are filling as well as nutritious. Plus, beans, lentils, and peas contain B vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc, and have no saturated fat.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds contain fiber, protein, and healthy fat, as well as important minerals. The combo of fiber, protein, and fat helps to fill you up so that you eat less. But easy does it with amounts: because of their fat content, nuts and seeds can rack up some serious calories. A serving of nuts is 1 ounce, or a small handful. When it comes to seeds, stick with 1 to 2 tablespoons.

Plain Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is made by straining out the liquid from regular yogurt. This makes the yogurt thicker and creamier. Nutrition-wise, this type of yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt, and less carb, sugar, and sodium. Another benefit to eating Greek yogurt? It contains probiotics, which are good bacteria that support gut health. Make sure to choose unsweetened Greek yogurt to lessen the calorie and carb count. Enjoy this type of yogurt mixed with berries and a sprinkling of nuts. Or use it as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream.

Whole grains

Surprised to see whole grains on the list? Don’t be. Yes, any kind of grain contains carbohydrate, but that doesn’t mean it’s “bad.” Swapping out lower-fiber, refined carbs for whole-grain carbs not only boosts overall nutrition, but it can also help with weight control thanks to their fiber content. And whole grains are also a source of protein, too. Of course, too much carbohydrate can increase calorie intake and raise blood sugars, so portion control is important. Whole grains include oats, wheat, barley, quinoa, millet, spelt, rye, farro, and sorghum.


If you’re a berry lover, you’re in luck. These little fruit gems are high in water and fiber and have a low glycemic index (which means they are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes compared with some other types of fruit). They are also good sources of a number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can definitely fit into a weight-loss plan without boosting your blood sugar.


No surprise here. Most vegetables are very low in calories, while being high in fiber and water, helping to fill you up. When you eat vegetables in place of higher-calorie foods, you may find that weight loss is easier. Starting off a meal with salad or nibbling on raw vegetables between meals can curb hunger and make you feel full so that you eat less. Choose lower-carb vegetables, such as leafy greens, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots, and celery. And vegetables are blood sugar-friendly, since they are quite low in carbohydrate.

Want to learn more about weight management? Read “Tried and True Weight-Loss Techniques,” “Losing Weight Without Feeling Hungry,” and “Seven Ways to Lose Weight.”

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES on social media

A Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at Good Measures, LLC, where she is a CDE manager for a virtual diabetes program. Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition & Meal Planning, a co-author of 16 Myths of a Diabetic Diet, and has written for  publications including Diabetes Self-Management, Diabetes Spectrum, Clinical Diabetes, the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation’s newsletter,, and

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