Each of these delicious whole foods has been shown to help you lose weight for one reason or another. Learn more about why you should be adding them to your diet.
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Forget the bad rap—milk has a ton of health benefits and helping you lose weight is just one of them. Just three servings of low-fat milk per day (along with reducing overall calorie intake) can help you lose more fat than dieting without the milk, according to research published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases. Bonus: Milk can help preserve your muscle mass as well. These benefits, plus its protein and calcium content, brings milk to the top of any list of foods for weight loss. (P.S. Should you be giving up skim milk for full-fat milk?)
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This green powder isn't just delicious, it's also got major slimming powers. Green tea matcha powder is made by grinding green tea leaves together, and it's rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a type of antioxidant that has been linked with many health benefits, including weight loss. A recent study found that women who drank four cups of matcha tea per day saw enhanced fat oxidation during 30 minutes of brisk walking, which can help reduce adipose tissue. The good news: You don't have to resign yourself to drinking expensive matcha lattes every day. There are many other genius ways to use and eat matcha.
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Pears are a delicious and juicy fruit containing numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Just one medium pear contains 6 grams of dietary fiber or 24 percent of your total daily needs. Fiber is what keeps you full for longer, curbing cravings throughout the day so you don't end up overeating. They're yummy raw, but pears are surprisingly versatile in the kitchen—just check out these tasty pear recipes.
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Almonds are actually among the lowest-calorie nuts and offer good amounts of calcium, healthy fat, protein, and fiber. Their satiating power makes them a good choice for a smart diet snack, and science backs that up. One study found that swapping 15 percent of your total calories for almonds results in greater loss of belly fat than a diet without nuts. Just remember that a little goes a long way—a small handful of almonds is plenty to do the trick.
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Water could be your weight-loss secret weapon. Not only is it calorie-free, but it can help keep you full and boost your metabolism. Drinking 16 ounces of water 30 minutes before a meal was found to help people lose more weight compared with those who didn't drink before eating, according to research. Keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated throughout the day and so you can reach for it instead of that bag of pretzels when you're feeling hungry or bored. (Related: 8 Infused Water Recipes to Upgrade Your H2O)
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Red Chili Peppers
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Chili peppers contain an active compound called capsaicin, which causes that burning feeling in your mouth. Capsaicin also has major slimming powers, boosting your metabolism while lowering your appetite. All of which make it a fiery superfood that deserves a place in your meals.
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You probably already know that protein is key to weight loss, but do you know why? Protein helps preserve your muscle mass and increases fullness, and your body uses more energy to break it down—that means more calories burned. The key thing here is keeping your protein lean. This will help limit the added calories from fat as well as the saturated fat content. Good options include red meat with little visible fat or marbling, skinless chicken breast, and ground turkey.
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Eat beans, lose weight? Yep, that's according to a recent review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers found that a diet with about one serving of pulses a day resulted in a significant weight loss compared to diets without it. Beans make up the pulses family, along with chickpeas, lentils, and dry peas. They're a good source of both fiber and protein. (More: 6 Healthy Recipes That Will Turn You On to Pulses)
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Rye bread made from rye grains has a distinctive earthy flavor. It's been shown to lower both blood sugar and cholesterol thanks to the high fiber and low glycemic index rating. What's more, an article in the Nutrition Journal compared two studies and found that whole-grain rye lowers hunger, increases fullness, and more effectively decreases the desire to eat compared with refined wheat bread. (Discover more whole grains to break out of your brown rice rut.)
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You don't have to drink bulletproof coffee for your morning cup of java to become a fat burner. Coffee contains caffeine, which acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system. Science has found that certain compounds in coffee can increase the breakdown of fat. It also increases body heat, which results in more calories burned. If you've never developed a taste for coffee, you can still reap the benefits by adding it to other foods like these baked recipes and these coffee smoothies.
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Oats are a whole grain rich in various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They also contain large amounts of beta-glucan. When this type of water-soluble fiber dissolves, it creates a thick gel-like substance in your gut. This is why fiber is so good at keeping you full. You'll want to choose the plain oats versus those heat-and-eat flavored packets that can be loaded with hidden sugars. Plus, a bowl of savory oatmeal is always going to be a better choice than sugary dry cereal. Research has actually found that eating oatmeal for breakfast helps you feel full and decreases calorie consumption later in the day—a win-win for weight loss.
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You've likely heard it before: Leafy greens like romaine, spinach, and red leaf lettuce are perfect additions to a weight-loss diet. That's because they're low in calories and high in fiber, while also working as the base for incredible filling salads. When crafting a green (or a grain bowl), be sure to watch out for high-calorie toppings such as nuts and seeds, cheese, or creamy dressings. If added in excess, these can derail the slimming powers of any lettuce blend. (Learn more: The Absolute Worst Salad Toppings for Weight Loss)
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Like meat, soy is considered a "complete protein," which means it contains all the essential amino acids you need for optimal health. Soy is available in many forms, such as tofu, edamame, soy milk, and roasted soy nuts. Soy has also been found to be just as effective as a high-protein meat-based diet at curbing appetite. And, yes, soy is safe to eat. Just limit yourself to less than three servings each day—something most people won't need to worry about anyway. Fall deeper in love with soy foods with this Tofu and Kale Glory Salad Bowl.
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These deliciously orange (and purple!) spuds are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are also high in water, and just one cup of diced sweet potato contains 4 grams of fiber (lots of it is in the skin, so refrain from peeling) and only 114 calories. It's easy to see why they made this top list of weight-loss foods. Already a lover of sweet potato and think you've tried all the iterations of this nutritious veggie? We bet you haven't tried sweet potato toast! This food trend will change the way you eat breakfast.
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Fruit is an important part of any weight-loss plan. Even though fruit contains simple sugars (some varieties more so than others), most fruits are low in calories, rich in phytochemicals, and good sources of fiber, which is why research connects eating fruit with a lower risk of weight gain and obesity. Aim for two to four servings of fruit each day, but hold the cold-pressed juice. Even though it's made from fruit, juicing fruit strips it of its filling fiber, leaving mostly just the sugar, which can lead to weight gain.
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You probably think of salmon as the heart-healthy fish that's full of omega-3s and 6s and that you're probably not getting enough of it. This fatty fish can also help you lose weight. Omega-3s have been shown to decrease inflammation, increase calorie burn, and reduce appetite, all of which work to promote weight loss. Try to get at least two servings of fatty fish each week—a pretty reasonable tweak to most diets. Get started with this super-easy honey-glazed salmon recipe.
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Don't be fooled by their size—these tiny seeds pack a lot of punch. Chia seeds are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Two tablespoons contain 40 percent of your total daily fiber needs, and by now you know the slimming powers of fiber. You can get that easily in one of these chia seed pudding recipes. A recent study found that adding 2 to 3 teaspoons of chia seeds to a midmorning snack can reduce your desire to eat sugary foods as the day goes on.
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Yogurt—creamy, delicious, and healthy—has been shown to increase levels of a glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), which is a hormone released by the pancreas that works to lower appetite to avoid overeating. Just make sure you opt for plain Greek yogurt instead of those flavored or fruit-on-the-bottom versions that are high in calories and sugar. Greek yogurt has more protein, less sugar, and fewer calories. (Bonus: You can also cook with Greek yogurt.)
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Green, oolong, and white tea contain caffeine, which, as you learned with coffee, has fat-burning powers. Certain tea varieties also contain different antioxidants, such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) to promote weight loss. (Discover five types of tea that will help you lose weight.)
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No, prunes are not just for making juice to help with digestion. Just five of these naturally sweetened dried plums contain 3.5g of fiber and only 114 calories. Plus, snacking on prunes has been shown to decrease hunger and sugar cravings during meals later. Try 'em raw, or get a little more creative in the kitchen. Prunes are great chopped up in salads, smoothies, and even granola.
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