We’ve all heard the basic concept of weight loss: eat fewer calories and burn more calories. But doesn’t that mean you’re going to be hungry? It seems inevitable, but it’s actually far from the truth. The key is to know the difference between fewer calories versus less food.
A cheeseburger with fries can equal 1000 calories, even if it’s the only thing you eat today. On the other hand, you can also get 1000 calories from three nutritious meals plus snacks. Eating little to no food will just mess with your weight loss goals. Avoid this mistake at all costs! After all, weight management is about eating right, not less.
Why Does Eating Less Cause Weight Gain?
Restricting food only enhances hunger. Plus, as you become ravenous, the odds of healthy choices will drop. Just imagine the temptation when you pass by the local drive-thru. Ditching meals are associated with weight gain, poor glucose control, and high blood cholesterol. It’s the exact opposite of what you want! This effect is especially true with breakfast, the first meal of the day.1
How To Eat For Weight Loss
Yes, this is possible, and no, it isn’t a trick. Eating wisely will combat cravings and increase satiety. This means replacing empty with filling nutrients like fiber, protein, healthy fats. Here are some food choices to get you started.
There’s a reason why avocados are so popular. Half a fruit contains 6.7 grams of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fatty acids. It also offers fiber, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Between the healthy fats and fiber, your stomach will be happy. Avocado pairs well with salads and sandwiches. You can blend it with olive oil for a creamy, rich dressing.2
If you eat meat, salmon is the way to go. One half of a fillet has nearly 40 grams of protein and tons of unsaturated fat – all for just 280 calories. Protein specifically enhances leptin, the “satiety hormone.”3 4
No weight loss plan is complete without beans. As a lean source of protein, they’re also packed with fiber, making them a top choice for preventing hunger. Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans – take your pick. Use them to bulk up salad or soup. For a satisfying sandwich, blend beans in a food processor and make veggie burgers. They can even double as a taco filling.
Instead of high-calorie mayonnaise or dressing, reach for hummus. The protein and fiber in chickpeas will do wonders for your waistline. Eat hummus as a dip, dressing, or sandwich spread. Craving more flavor? Mix spices like paprika or black pepper.
Start the day off with an egg or two. You can cook them in many ways, but boiling avoids the need for extra grease. One hard-boiled egg has 6.29 grams of protein and only 78 calories. For a nutritious sandwich, ditch the mayo and mix hard-boiled eggs with mashed avocado. Dreading a long week? Add veggie quiche cups to your meal prep plan.5
At 8.25 grams of fiber per half cup, oats are one of the best foods for slimming down. The same portion only has 303 calories plus magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Overnight oats are a lifesaver for busy mornings. To snack smart, make oatmeal bars or cookies. Add a scoop of protein powder for even more staying power.6
While grapes aren’t packed with protein and fiber, they’re high in water. It’ll fill you up in the best way! One cup of grapes has 62 calories plus vitamins A, C, and K – they’re a smart snack. In between meals, eat grapes to hold you over. They can also be added to smoothies, yogurt, or salads.7
When possible, skip processed foods as much as you can. Anything that is pre-packaged, boxed, and convenient it is bad news. The better you eat, the less you’ll have to worry about calories.
|↑1||Neumann, Brianna L., Amy Dunn, Dallas Johnson, J. D. Adams, and Jamie I. Baum. “Breakfast Macronutrient Composition Influences Thermic Effect of Feeding and Fat Oxidation in Young Women Who Habitually Skip Breakfast.” Nutrients 8, no. 8 (2016): 490.|
|↑2||Dreher, Mark L., and Adrienne J. Davenport. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition 53, no. 7 (2013): 738-750.|
|↑3||Basic Report: 15209, Fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, cooked, dry heat. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑4||Weigle, David S., Patricia A. Breen, Colleen C. Matthys, Holly S. Callahan, Kaatje E. Meeuws, Verna R. Burden, and Jonathan Q. Purnell. “A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, ad libitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 82, no. 1 (2005): 41-48.|
|↑5||Basic Report: 01129, Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑6||Basic Report: 20038, Oats. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑7||Basic Report: 09131, Grapes, American type (slip skin), raw. United States Department of Agriculture.|