With the new year approaching fast, I thought I would share with you my top ten favorite weight loss/management foods and products (notice, they are mainly foods, because as you know I’m not a fan of gimmicks and I truly believe weight loss happens best when you eat the right foods and stay active). Without further ado, here they are, in no particular order;
- Greek Yogurt
Let’s see here; tons of protein, and a small amount of sugar, plus calcium? What’s not to love? I always recommend Greek yogurt over regular yogurt, to all of my clients. Yes, the Greek varieties also contain live and active cultures, so have no fear. And I do recommend the plain (gasp!) because it contains much less sugar than the flavored varieties. Now, don’t eat it plain, please (gross), unless you are using it as a sour cream substitute (which works really well, by the way). Instead, jazz up your plain Greek yogurt with parfaits, or frozen blueberries, PB2, Stevia, whatever!
- La Croix, or other sparkling beverage (calorie free, and free of artificial flavors/colors).
I think sparkling water is a trend that is here to stay. I told you I asked for a Soda Stream for Christmas, right? No sweet syrups needed, I just want the plain water with bubbles! The bubbles actually make you feel full and the sting of carbonation is actually something that humans love (you don’t need the sugar, the carbonation should be stimulating enough!).
I’m addicted. I’ll admit it. I go through this stuff like it’s not going to be manufactured anymore or something. It’s sad, really. You see, it only has 50 calories in 2 Tbsp, which is one-fourth the amount of actual peanut butter. Now, I know what you’re thinking; it doesn’t taste like peanut butter. True, it doesn’t. But with PB2 I can add peanut butter flavor to things like smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt, without adding a ton of calories (I typically use it in it’s powder form, rather than adding water to it and making it a paste).
- Chia Seeds
Ever since Dr. Oz talked about chia seeds on his show a few years ago, people just can’t seem to get enough. I think it’s one of the few things Dr. Oz got right (maybe because it’s actually a food, not a supplement?!). Chia seeds are so versatile and can be used in many recipes (quick: type “chia seed recipes” into your browser or Pinterest and you will find out what I mean). They form a gel when added to water, and also when ingested by you. Therefore they can help keep you full for a long time. They also contain an excellent source of fiber, which helps with that satiety factor. They are tasteless, so they are a great seed to just add to…whatever.
If you haven’t tried Beanitos yet, well, you’re missing out. You see, there are so many “bean chips” on the shelves out there, that contain wheat or corn as the first ingredient, and then something like “bean powder” as the third or fourth ingredient. In other words, they aren’t true bean chips. Beanitos, on the other hand, have “whole beans” as the first ingredient, and therefore provide 4-6 grams of satiating protein and fiber per serving. That’s amazing! They basically taste like a crispy bean (although the tortilla chips really don’t taste like beans at all, they are such a secretly healthier treat!). Check out their website to learn more, and look for these chips in the chip aisle of your supermarket (I suggest trying them with nachos. And don’t tell anyone they are made with beans. Muahaha)
- CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)
I rarely promote weight loss supplements (actually, I never do) but CLA is a fatty acid that, at least from research done so far, is safe. It’s actually found naturally in foods such as grassfed beef. Read below to see what studies have shown about it’s effectiveness. This blurb is from the Natural Standards Database. It’s very clear that more research is needed, but if I’m going to recommend something for weight loss, I would likely start with this (although Alli is another one I’ve recommended in the past). I think many of the studies that have been done with CLA were not long-term. I’m guessing more long-term studies would show a benefit, but who knows? Of course, talk to your doctor before considering any supplement (or drug, like Alli).
- Non-starchy Vegetables (especially zucchini and spaghetti squash)
Vegetables will always be considered a healthy food. Never will you read a research paper that claims “as it turns out, vegetables aren’t as good for us as we once thought!”. Nope. I can guarantee you right now that will never happen. It’s clear that vegetables play an important role not only in health, but also weight management. Non-starchy vegetables are great because they have very few calories and carbohydrates, and can add a lot of volume to your plate (remember my post about volumetrics?). Some examples of non-starchy vegetables include carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, spinach, kale, and one of my favorites; zucchini. Check out my zucchini “noodle” recipe below (a great way to have “pasta” without all the carbs!).
Click on the photo to get the recipe for zucchini “noodles” with oat-filled turkey meatballs.
And of course you can always eat spaghetti squash for your “pasta”. Spaghetti squash is the only non-starchy winter squash.
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Similar to PB2, I can’t go a day without adding unsweetened cocoa powder to something. You see, I’m a women with a slight chocolate addiction. It doesn’t help that I live with a man who also has this addiction (who knew men could love chocolate as much as women?!). I add this to oatmeal, Greek yogurt, pancakes, whatever, just so I can get that chocolatey flavor without all the sugar and calories. Of course I also eat the real stuff; my favorite is Lindt’s 70-90% dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is a great choice because it’s lower in sugar than milk chocolate. See, you can have your chocolate, and eat it too.
- NuGo Slim Bars
The only bar I’ve ever known to have only 2-3 grams of sugar and zero artificial sweeteners (including zero bloat-inducing sugar alcohols!). Have I mentioned that they also have an excellent source of fiber, protein and (in my opinion) they taste delicious?! Having worked at a supermarket that sells these for a couple years, I’ll tell you the most popular flavor was the Raspberry Truffle. So, give them a try today!
Read more about this product by clicking on the photo.
I could have said “caffeine”, but then I’d be promoting another drug/supplement for weight loss (the CLA and Alli were enough). Instead I’ll say coffee, because as much as you read about the potential negative effects of caffeine, it’s very rare that you ever read about negative effects of coffee. In fact, it’s more common to find research that supports coffee as a potent source of antioxidants, which it is. It helps that coffee contains caffeine, which as I said can pose some health risks if you consume more than about 400 mg per day (the amount in about two tall Starbucks drinks) or if you consume your caffeine via supplements that are still not required to disclose caffeine amount (so annoying), but caffeine consumed in a safe amount (and via coffee or even teas like black and green) is healthy, in my opinion. There is some research to support that caffeine can reduce your appetite, and speed up metabolism. I use caffeine (~65 mg) to help prepare me for my early morning workouts. It truly helps!
There you have it, my top ten list of weight loss and management products. Now, what would you add to the list?
Enjoy your weekend everyone!