The weight loss foods that really work, say experts, are the ones that will help your body burn fat and keep you full—and they must also be delicious, so you don't get sick of them. That's why we reached out to four of the smartest dietitians, nutritionists and trainers we know and asked them about which foods actually make you slimmer, while also tasting great. These are the tips that worked for their clients and they will work for you. "There are many benefits to eating healthy weight loss foods," says Sydney Spiewak, MS, RDN, CD-N and Nutritionist at Clinical Weight Loss and Wellness. "They can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, and Type 2 Diabetes. Furthermore, they can help to provide people with more energy throughout the day and even boost someone's mood!" Read on for the experts' 19 weight loss foods that really work.
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Turmeric
"Turmeric is considered the star of all spices and is one of the best and safest spices for all ages. There are more than 1,000 research studies that have demonstrated the protective effect of the active compound—curcumin—which researchers have found to increase weight loss and reduce body fat," says Ayurvedic Expert and Registered Dietitian Sapna Punjabi-Gupta, who hosts online cooking classes with delicious recipes inspired by her Indian roots and lifelong dedication to a vegetarian diet at bespiced.com. "Ayurveda regards turmeric as one of nature's best medicines." In fact, she says, "it is used not only for cooking but is used therapeutically in Ayurvedic medicine."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Resistant Starch
"Unlike typical starches that raise your insulin level and make you hungry, resistant starch is your friend for weight loss," says Dr. Vikki Petersen, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, Chiropractor and Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner. "Eating potatoes that have been cooked and then cooled (think potato salad) along with cooked beans (white beans and kidney beans top the list) gives you a hefty dose of protective-resistant starches. You'll be satisfied and will feed the healthy bacteria in your gut that promotes weight loss."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Avocados
"Enjoying half an avocado per day in a smoothie or atop your salad will increase satiation and encourage weight loss," says Dr. Petersen. "Avocados are high in fiber and are known to increase your metabolic rate, a key to weight loss."
Not to mention, "avocados are delicious and nutritious," says Jessica Mazzucco, certified fitness trainer and founder of The Glute Recruit. "They can be added to salads and omelets to liven them up. They are an excellent source of fiber at 11 to 17 grams each and contain monounsaturated fat which is great for the heart. They will also keep you satiated for a long time. They are a winning food with nearly 20 essential nutrients such as folic acid, potassium, fiber, and vitamin E. Don't eat more than a half-cup per day to avoid exceeding your desired caloric intake."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Dietary Pulses and Legumes
"Legumes such as beans, lentils, chickpeas and dry peas are rich in protein, vitamins and dietary fiber," says Punjabi-Gupta. "Studies have shown that regular consumption of beans may aid healthy weight management and weight loss. Replace your animal protein with plant based proteins a few times a week."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Tart Cherries
"Cherries are low in calories, meaning that one cup of cherries is less than 100 calories. Cherries are also rich in vitamins that help to strengthen our metabolism," says Spiewak. "Cherries are also filled with anthocyanins, which helps to boost fat-fighting enzymes."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Steak
"This may come as a surprise to see on a list of weight loss foods but clean sources of protein are needed for weight loss," says Mazzucco. "We hear a lot of negative talk about red meat, but if you choose high quality, lean cuts and eat them in moderation without any fattening sauces such as Bernaise or BBQ or Hollandaise, steak is a filling nutrient. Most experts agree that you should not exceed 18 ounces of red meat per week. In general, eating a high protein diet can assist in burning more calories because it requires more calories to break down protein than other nutrients. An 8oz steak without sauce has 614 calories, 632mg of potassium and 56 grams of protein."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Peanut and Almond Butter
"Both peanut and almond butter have been shown to reduce the incidence of metabolic syndrome, the root cause of obesity along with type 2 diabetes," says Dr. Petersen. "Unsweetened nut butters are satisfying and increase leptin sensitivity, your satiety hormone. A serving is 2 tablespoons, which you can divide in half during the day, or stick with 1 tablespoon and enjoy several times per week. Add to your morning smoothie, chia pudding or morning oatmeal."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Fennel
"Fennel is one of the few plants that have it all—vegetable, herb, spice," says Punjabi-Gupta. "It is a key ingredient in many Indian spice blends. It is sweet and astringent in taste and has a cooling potency (virya). It is an excellent digestive aid—calms digestion, mild laxative and a diuretic. It can have a strong flavor and works well in savory and sweet recipes. Fennel is a rich source of fibre, which helps you stay fuller for longer, further preventing you from cravings and overeating."
A Weight Loss Drink That Really Works: Purified Water
"Yes, it is a beverage; but it is worthy of making this list considering most Americans are dehydrated," says Dr. Petersen. "It will be nearly impossible to lose weight when you do not consume enough clean water every day. Spread out the 8 glasses (8 oz each) throughout the day, you will lose the detoxification benefit if you 'chug' 24 ounces in one sitting."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Artichokes
"I large artichoke (162g) has approximately 76 calories, O mg of cholesterol, and is packed with potassium and fiber," says Mazzucco. "Since it takes long to peel and eat an artichoke, you will eat slower and feel fuller thanks to the fiber. A bonus: Artichokes rank among the most antioxidant-rich of all vegetables."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Chili Peppers
"Chili peppers are rich in a phytochemical called capsaicin (this is what gives chili peppers their heat)," says Spiewak. "Capsaicin is a substance that can suppress your appetite, leading to the intake of less calories. It has also been linked to the reduction in stomach fat."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Cod
"Salmon usually garners all the praise as the fish to eat for weight loss," says Mazzucco. "Cod is overlooked, as it is a great source of protein packing 16g per 3 cooked ounces. B vitamins help your body derive energy from food, and cod has B12 and niacin. These help the digestive system and reduce cholesterol. You can't beat the calorie count: one fillet of cod (231 grams) has only 189 calories."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Watermelon
"It's hard to trump the sweetness and refreshment you get from eating watermelon," says Mazzucco. "One cup is only 46 calories. Although the sugar count per cup is a bit high at 9G per cup, it's all natural with a low glycemic index. This means the food will not spike your blood sugar the same way that the sugar from a candy bar would. Watermelon also has an amino acid called citrulline that can reduce fatigue and increase blood flow."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Chia Seeds
"Chia seeds have many amazing properties such as boosting digestive health and metabolic rate and are high in iron and omega-3 fatty acids," says Spiewak. "All of these properties can help someone lose weight!"
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Red Peppers
"Red peppers are filled with Vitamin C," says Spiewak. "Vitamin C is an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce stress hormones. This is important because when you are more stressed, you have high levels of cortisol. This can then lead to storing excess body fat."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Cumin
"Cumin is an essential spice in Indian cooking and an important ingredient of curry powder and spice blends," says Punjabi-Gupta. "It is used either dry roasted and ground to a powder or is fried whole in warm oil while cooking. It is one of the best medicines for digestive sluggishness in Ayurveda. It also helps relieve gas and kindles gastric fire. Cumin may boost your metabolism, lower cholesterol level, and help decrease your blood sugar. Studies confirm that consuming ground cumin helps some people who are trying to lose weight."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Asparagus
"Asparagus is low in calories but filled with fiber! it's very low in calories, with only 20 calories in half a cup," says Spiewak. "This means you can eat a lot of asparagus without taking in a lot of calories. Asparagus is also rich in fiber which has been linked to helping in weight loss. Asparagus contains the chemical asparagine, and it is an alkaloid that directly affects the cells and helps to break down fat."
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Apple Cider Vinegar
There aren't too many studies to prove apple cider vinegar helps you burn fat, according to the Mayo Clinic. However: "If you feel like your energy metabolism needs additional support, a supplement like vitafusion Apple Cider Vinegar gummy vitamins can be an easy alternative to get apple cider vinegar and B-12 that you might be missing from diet alone," says Spiewak. (Note: Spiewak is not compensated to promote that brand, she just likes them.)
A Weight Loss Food That Really Works: Many Spices
"Spice up your life with a variety of flavors that make your food more enjoyable and boost your metabolism," says Dr. Petersen. "Black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cumin and ginger are a good start and known to boost your metabolism leading to weight loss."
"Spices have been used in cooking and as medicine in many indigenous cultures for centuries. Indian cuisine has its roots in Ayurvedic science and spices hold a very important place in everyday Indian cooking," says Punjabi-Gupta. "Spices such as turmeric, ginger, black pepper, cumin and fennel aids in overall digestion. Studies have confirmed that spices contain a variety of naturally occurring bioactive ingredients that have weight-loss effects." So enjoy these delicious weight loss foods that really work, and to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss: This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.