Whether you’re happy with your weight or want to take off some extra pounds, summer is the perfect opportunity to fill up on fresh, whole foods – which are research-backed to get you to your goal weight and feeling your best.
Here are eight staples that will kick your summer weight-loss efforts into high gear:
Whether you favor black beans or chickpeas, beans are packed with nutrients, protein and fiber, which can keep you full with fewer calories. One study finds a daily serving of beans is associated with a half-pound of weight loss over six weeks, without any other changes. You can add beans to salads, throw them into soups or chili, or blend them into dips.
There are a lot of varieties to pick from, but opting for brown rice is a great way to up your fiber intake. Rice delivers a healthful source of fuel that we need to get through the day and power summer fun. Research indicates that in the United States, individuals who consume more grains, like rice, weigh less and have smaller waistlines than those who avoid this food group.
Don’t buy into the myth that bananas are fattening – far from it.Slightly under ripe bananas double as a resistant starch, which doesn’t break down in our digestive tracts. Instead, it feeds healthful bacteria. For a summer treat, try blending frozen bananas as a faux ice cream, add some sprinkles and see if you can fool your friends and family.
These beta-carotene superstars are packed with water and fiber, adding extra bulk – but with few calories. Plus, a handful each day, about six baby carrots, reduces the risk of breast cancer by 19 percent. Bonus: A diet rich in beta-carotene can help protect the skin from the sun’s rays (though you still need sunscreen).
Leafy greens areone of the best energy and weight-loss sources, with 1 cup of cooked spinach providing 100 percent of vitamins A and K, plus large amounts of magnesium, iron and folate. This explains why greens take first place in nutrient-index scores. When eating fewer calories, it’s important to get the most bang for your buck. You don’t want to fill up with empty calories from junk foods.
This grain is a superhero when it comes to creating an all-star breakfast that sets the stage for a “good eating day.” People who eat oatmeal for breakfast are shown to stay full longer and eat less at lunch, which are two assets that can help you reach your goal weight.
One apple contains 5 grams of fiber on average. For every 14 grams of fiber you add to your diet, you trim your calorie intake by 10 percent. This water-packed fruit will also keep you hydrated and satiated, with less than 100 calories per serving.
This vegetable contains potassium, calcium and all the vitamin C you’ll need in a day. Its low-fat, low-calorie, nutrient-dense profile makes it a great ally when it comes to losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Evidence suggests cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, have additional cancer prevention properties.
To maximize results, integrate these eight foods – with other vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes – into a nutrient-dense, plant-based diet.
Regardless of the label, this way of eating continues to gain traction among athletes, Hollywood stars and medical researchers, and for good reason. Those who adopt this approach weigh 10 pounds less on average and reduce the risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer.