10 Whole Foods That Boost Your Energy and Help You Lose Weight
Cutting calories isn’t always the best choice when trying to lose weight. Too few calories can zap your energy and make you crave junk food even more. Incorporating these ten super star foods into your diet can help boost your energy levels, keep you satiated longer and make for a more enjoyable (and lasting) weight loss results.
This go-to healthy fat is loaded with essential amino acids, stress-fighting B vitamins and minerals. They’re also packed with fiber to help you stay full longer. Although avocados are high in calories, when eaten in moderation they can be an important addition to a healthy diet (See: Healthy Avocado Recipes). Try adding a quarter avocado to your salad, or sliced over an omelet. Make guacamole and use endives instead of chips for a satisfying treat or appetizer.
When people think of leafy greens they often think of a bowl of salad. Although a salad full of leafy greens and other fresh vegetables can make for a healthy meal, there are many other ways to get your daily dose. Try incorporating leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards and Swiss chard into everyday dishes like soups, omelets, pasta sauces and stir fry. Loaded with vitamins A, C, K and B6 and rich in foliate, calcium and potassium, leafy greens are also perfect for juicing (See: 10 Super Greens to Add to Smoothies and Juices). And if you’re watching your weight they’re a great way to fill up without a lot of extra calories.
Salmon and Omega-3 Rich Foods
Stress can often zap our energy making us feel overwhelmed and exhausted. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, can help combat some of the symptoms of stress by keeping the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline under control. Try adding grilled salmon to your lunch salad or use it in a salmon and veggie stir fry. (See: 4 Healthy Ways to Avoid the Same Old Grilled Salmon)
Antioxidant-rich blueberries are loaded with vitamin C and have been shown to not only strengthen the immune system but also fight stress. I love adding blueberries to overnight oats, pancakes, muffins and yogurt and my kids ask for blueberries with fresh whipped cream as a special treat.
Eggs, Any Style
Protein is an important part of any diet but it is especially crucial if you’re trying to lose weight. (Here's why eggs are one of the best foods for weight loss.) With 6 grams of high-quality protein, eggs are a great protein source and are also super easy to prepare. Try adding vegetables to your morning egg dishes for a complete meal or incorporate eggs into your lunch and or dinner recipes. Simply adding a sliced egg to a salad gives your lunch an extra boost of protein that will keep you full and satisfied longer.
Nuts & Seeds
Although nuts and seeds can be higher in calories, a small amount can satisfy your hunger and actually help you eat less. Vitamin-rich and loaded with healthy fats, nuts and seeds are a valuable addition to a healthy diet. Try incorporating them in small amounts into your daily meals or have a small handful in place of chips, crackers and bread. I love tossing sliced almonds or pumpkin seeds in my salads, sprinkling chopped walnuts over my yogurt, adding flax seeds to smoothies or topping grilled fish with crushed pistachios. Another great way to incorporate nuts is to replace your regular flour with nut flour when baking and drinking nut milks, like almond or cashew, instead of cow’s milk. (Try these delicious nut butters you can make at home.)
Looking for long-lasting energy? A bowl of warm oats is the perfect comfort food with a high fiber content to keep you full longer, helping ward off unhealthy snacking between meals. (We have 10 new ways to eat oatmeal.) Oats can also boost serotonin levels, helping combat stress and anxiety. A bowl of oatmeal in the morning is a great way to start the day but there are plenty of other ways to incorporate this healthy grain. I love using oat flour in place of wheat flour in cookies, muffins, and breads.
Beans are high in fiber, which helps keep you feeling fuller longer. High-fiber foods require more energy to break down, so you burn more calories with no extra effort. Add beans to chilies, stews, and salsas, toss over salads or make some tasty and satisfying bean spreads. If weight loss is your goal, incorporating beans into your meal plans can help keep hunger at bay. (Related: Healthy Recipes That Turn a Can of Beans into a Meal)
This nutrient-packed cruciferous vegetable is low in calories but loaded with fiber, vitamin C and the stress-busting B vitamins. Broccoli is also a great source of magnesium and folic acid, both known to reduce stress and anxiety. Try adding broccoli to soups, omelets, stir fry and salads. One of my favorite ways to eat broccoli is to simply roast it with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Everyone knows yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, but it’s also high in protein and loaded with live bacteria, called probiotics. Probiotics are important to gut health and have been shown to help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. When selecting yogurt, it’s important to read the label to ensure you’re getting live cultures or probiotics and that the brand you select isn’t loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners or colors. I always opt for plain yogurt and add my own fruit for a touch of sweetness.
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