When it comes to losing weight, we often sabotage ourselves by buying what we consider to be "diet" foods or sneaking in one too many treats here and there. Instead of focusing on the negative foods, let's put our energy towards buying the right ones.
If you want to drop a few pounds but you aren't seeing any movement on that scale, a few tweaks to your grocery list and food prep can be game-changers. Of course, be sure to consult your doctor before making any major overhauls to your diet.
Add 5 or More Different Types of Vegetables
Filling up your plate with vegetables is essential for any weight loss plan. They add fiber and nutrients and can help lower your calorie intake without skimping on servings.
Choose five non-starchy vegetables like kale, cauliflower or eggplant, and then roast them at the beginning of the week. You can set aside one for each weekday. You'll be less likely to bypass these powerhouse foods at meals because you'll have a different one to look forward to without the added hassle of cooking.
Plus, adding variation allows your body to absorb a more diverse-range of health-boosting nutrients. Broccoli, for instance, is a great source of fiber while cabbage has antioxidants like vitamin C to boost your immune system to keep you well and active.
Choose Versatile Legumes like Black Beans
Inexpensive and versatile, black beans have 39 grams of protein in one cup, according to the USDA. This almost meets your daily-recommended amount of 46 grams of protein a day. Plus, when you incorporate these types of legumes into your diet, the protein allows you to stay fuller longer.
Consider adding them into your salads at lunch, layering them in jars along with corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion and romaine lettuce for a southwestern twist. Simply put the dressing at the bottom of the jar or in a separate container and you have an easy go-to that's healthier (and less costly) than store bought salads.
If you have a sweet tooth, you can even use black beans to make flourless brownies! Serve these instead of your usual treats for a nutritious alternative that is low fat and gluten free.
Buy Lean Meats
Just because you're trying to lose weight doesn't mean you need to cut out meat. Instead, choose leaner options like chicken and fish. If you like beef and pork, look for cuts that have less fat, like tenderloins. Then, mix up your recipe repertoire by grilling out kebabs one night and baking in the oven another. Continue to try out new spices, too.
"Protein takes more energy to digest than fat or carbs, so you get a little bit of a metabolic edge from eating protein-packed foods in place of other foods," dietitian Karen Ansel, R.D shared on WomensHealth.com.
Just remember that lean meat must contain less than 10g of total fat, which includes less than 4.5g of saturated fat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Pick Fruits with a Low Glycemic Load
Avoid high sugar fruits like mango or pineapple and add those with a low glycemic index like berries, purchasing fresh ones each week. This will provide important antioxidants and fiber.
Other fibrous fruits that are lower in sugar include: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, clementines, plums, peaches and small apples, Dr. Mike Rousell told Shape.com. He also suggests limiting carbohydrate intake to 100 grams per day for those expending a moderately carbohydrate-restricted diet for weight loss.
Rinse these when you bring them home from the store so they're ready to eat, and make them easily accessible to add to breakfast, like low-fat Greek yogurt or high-fiber oatmeal, or eat them with almond butter for a mid-morning snack.
Opt for These 3 Whole Grains
Buy whole grains like farro, chia seeds and quinoa to help you lose weight, according to registered dietitian Kate Geagan on RedBookMag.com. Add farro and quinoa to your salads for a nutty flavor that is also dense and filling, or sprinkle chia seeds over your Greek yogurt with fresh berries. Having these on hand to use as alternatives for pasta or rice gives you an easy out when you don't have time to create an elaborate dinner and need something quick, delicious and filling.
You can even use some of the pre-cooked vegetables from earlier in the week to serve over quinoa with sriracha or low-sodium soy sauce for a stir-fry alternative.