Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to survive on a diet of celery, salad, and boiled chicken breast, feeling “hangry” all the time if you intend to lose weight. As a matter of fact, being full and enjoying nutritious, filling meals will really help you combat all those junk food cravings and stay healthy without putting on any weight. In this article, we’ll list 14 nutritious foods you can eat as much as you want without feeling guilty or afraid that you’ll gain weight, and some of these will surely surprise you.
1. Chickpeas (and other legumes)
What makes food promote weight loss?
Some might say that a low-calorie count determines that, but that’s not the best way of looking at it, as even a very small piece of candy or chocolate can be quite low in calories, but eating that will not make it beneficial for weight loss at all. The key is in the energy density, or how many calories there are in a product compared to its weight. By choosing foods that have a lower energy density, you’ll be able to eat plenty of nutritious food and lose weight.
One group of such foods are legumes, and especially chickpeas, which will not only fill you up and keep you full thanks to their high fiber and protein content but they also have a low-calorie count per gram. The hearty and filling legumes are a must-have weight loss and maintenance companion, especially if you don’t cook them with too much oil.
2. Boiled potatoes
Speaking of filling foods that are good for weight loss, boiled potatoes have also somehow made the list. You might find this surprising since potatoes are so carb-heavy, but it turns out that eating potatoes boiled can actually promote weight loss rather than prevent it.
This is because boiled potatoes, especially cold ones, contain a type of starch called resistant starch, which acts like soluble fiber in your gut and makes you feel full for a long time. Apart from that, resistant starches have been found to contain half the calories of regular starch in one gram, so by boiling your potatoes instead of frying them, you’re ultimately both lowering your daily caloric intake and preventing overeating, all because potatoes are so filling.
Chicken and turkey breast are the most common recommendations for animal protein that won’t cause weight gain, especially since they’re so easily accessible and relatively affordable. However, limiting yourself to those options can be boring, and an excellent alternative to add to your rotation is fish.
Any fish will do, and luckily, there are so many fish varieties to choose from. Interestingly, one study even found that people who eat fish typically consume fewer calories by 11% than those who eat beef. Also, fish contains those famous omega-3 fats, which, apart from fueling your brain and making you healthier, were also proven to decrease the appetite in those who are overweight.
Berries are not the most filling foods out there, but they are quite low in calories, so they make an excellent snack for those who like to watch their weight. The best thing about berries that all of them are very high in antioxidants, which makes them not only a tasty but also a very healthy snack. Apart from that, berries come in a huge variety – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries, just to name a few, so it’s impossible to get bored of them.
5. Zucchini and eggplants
Both zucchini and eggplants have a very low energy density and caloric count – 17 calories in a portion of zucchini, and 25 in a portion of eggplants (when cooked without oil). At the same time, both veggies are so very versatile in terms of the ways you can eat them and quite affordable, so you can really make them a reliable staple food that won’t make you gain weight or break the bank.
Yet another excellent protein source is eggs. Contrary to popular belief, eating egg whites alone isn’t better for weight loss and muscle gain because about half of an egg’s protein content is in the yolk, as we discussed previously in an article about popular egg myths. Instead, eat the entire egg and don’t waste the yolk.
Eggs are quite beneficial for weight loss and maintenance because they are quite filling as well, with studies showing that eating eggs for breakfast can promote weight loss and improve the Body Mass Index (BMI) in the long term compared with bagels.
7. Citrus fruit
Like berries, citrus fruit are a wonderful snack because they are very low in calories and high in vitamins. Compared to berries, however, citrus fruit may actually be a little bit more filling, since they contain more fiber and a low dose of pectin, a chemical capable of slowing down digestion and making you feel fuller.
There is also some scientific evidence suggesting that grapefruit, in particular, is beneficial for weight loss, so if you like the bitter taste of the fruit and are currently on a weight loss journey, it’s a great match for you.
If you want to learn only one lesson from this article, let it be “eat more soups”. Not only are they primarily made of water, making them very low in calories per volume, they’re also more filling than you’d expect, with several studies showing that people who eat soup often stay fuller for longer, consume fewer calories and are more likely to maintain their perfect weight.
One study even found that participants ended up consuming 20% fewer calories during a meal that included vegetable soup and a normal lunch meal than the controls who only ate only the lunch meal, so if you want to stay fuller and consume fewer calories, try having broth or a broth-based soup before an actual meal. It’s best to opt-out of cream-based soups if your goal is weight loss, however, as the fats in the cream can increase your calorie intake.
9. Cauliflower (and other cruciferous vegetables)
Welcome the group of vegetables that are your best friend if you’re losing weight, but also if you’re trying to eat healthily. Cruciferous vegetables, which include cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli, just to name a few, are all packed with antioxidants and very high quantities of fiber while simultaneously being among the least calorie-dense foods out there.
A definite bonus is that you can also use these vegetables in a huge variety of ways – in soups, salads, curries, smoothies, and just as a healthy snack, you name it.
10. Cottage cheese
Most dairy products are quite high in fats, which significantly increases their energy density, but cottage cheese is the one exception because it’s very high in proteins, but quite low in fat. Apart from that, cottage cheese is effective at satiating for a long time, with one study even concluding that it’s just as filling as eggs when eaten for breakfast. No wonder so many bodybuilders and people who want to build lean muscle mass typically eat so much cottage cheese.
The humble apple has been the go-to snack for centuries, if not millennia for good reason, and even if you’re trying to limit your caloric intake, eating apples is an excellent choice. First, apples are primarily made of water, so they’re quite a low-calorie snack, and like citrus fruit, they contain pectin, which is known to reduce one’s appetite and food cravings.
Also, remember that eating fruits whole rather than juicing them or blending them into a smoothie is more beneficial for your teeth and long term health, as well as for a more prolonged feeling of fullness, so try to eat apples, as well as any other fruit whole or cut up into pieces.
The texture of mushrooms is very reminiscent of meat, and so it comes as no surprise that they are quite filling. Apart from that, certain mushrooms are very high in protein, and all mushrooms are an excellent source of fiber. Portobello mushrooms, in particular, were suggested to be beneficial for weight loss thanks to their ability to regulate blood glucose levels, which can reduce the food cravings one experiences and, as a result, regulate one’s appetite.
Let’s face the hard truth – fruits and veggies can’t always make our snack cravings go away. Sometimes, we need something crunchy and salty, especially on a movie night. If this resonates with you, feel free to indulge in some popcorn from time to time. Even though most popcorn varieties are a bit too salty or buttery, they will still be much better for you than a bag of chips or other snacks – a fact that was proven scientifically.
This is because popcorn is a whole grain and contains a lot of nutrients and fiber. Also, it’s quite large and takes up a lot of space in your stomach, which can ultimately be good because you won’t be able to eat too many calories worth of it and will stay full for a while after eating popcorn.
14. Shirataki Noodles
As surprising as it may sound, even noodles can benefit your weight, if you know which ones to choose, that is. Most pasta and noodle varieties are made of wheat or rice flour, which, as tasty as they may be, are quite bad for your waistline. However, a traditional Japanese noodle called “shirataki” is an exception, as these thin, translucent noodles are made from the konjac yam.
These noodles are 97% water, and 3% glucomannan, a type of soluble fiber that has weight loss and other impressive health benefits. Apart from being a very filling and essentially a zero-calorie food, these noodles also improve your gut health while simultaneously making you feel less hungry, as pointed out in several studies on glucomannan.
One such study even found that daily glucomannan supplementation resulted in a 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) weight loss in obese individuals in just 8 weeks, without any other diet or exercise habit changes, which is truly impressive!