If you love food but have excess pounds to lose, fear not. Depriving yourself isn't necessary or healthy. Severely restricting calories, carbohydrates or other foods can actually hinder weight loss by slowing your metabolism and causing serious complications such as heart and kidney problems, says the Weight-control Information Network. For healthy, lasting weight control success, aim for a balanced diet based on nutritious foods and routine exercise. For best results, seek guidance from your doctor or dietitian before attempting weight loss.
In a study published in "Epidemiology" in 2008, researchers analyzed the beverage intake and lifestyle habits of 173 overweight women ages 25 to 50 for one year. Regardless of other lifestyle factors, such as exercise and caloric intake, drinking water was linked with significant body fat and weight loss over time. Water contains no calories and because you can mistake thirst for hunger, drinking more water may help reduce your calorie intake, leading to weight loss -- particularly if you swap out sugary sodas, coffee or alcoholic drinks for water.
Low-fat milk provides valuable amounts of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Because it has a low-glycemic impact, or mild impact on your blood sugar, it may help minimize between-meal cravings. In a study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" in January 2011, researchers compared the impact of diets fortified with low-fat milk or a placebo containing the same amount of calories for six months. Participants who consumed milk showed less desire to eat between meals than non-milk drinkers.
Whole grains provide more protein and fiber, an undigestible carbohydrate that promotes fullness without providing no calories, than refined grains. While whole grains are low-glycemic, refined grain products, such as white bread, rice cakes and instant rice, are high-glycemic -- foods that can offset blood sugar control, increasing hunger. The Mayo Clinic describes whole grains as filling, weight-loss-friendly foods that allow you to eat more food volume, while taking in fewer calories. Nutritious sources include 100 percent whole-grain breads, quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal and air-popped popcorn.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are the most calorie-poor, nutrient-rich foods on the planet. Many are rich in water and fiber, which contribute no calories. The fiber in fruits and vegetables promotes fullness, and their natural sweetness makes them useful alternatives to sugar and calorie-rich sweets. The Mayo Clinic recommends eating fresh fruits and vegetables over dried fruit, canned fruit and juices, which often contain more calories and less fiber per serving. Particularly fiber-rich options include berries, artichokes, peas, dark leafy greens and winter squash.
Fish provides valuable amounts of nutrients, including protein and healthy fat. Unlike fatty meats and dairy products, the fats in fish are anti-inflammatory and essential for wellness. Saturated fats are linked with obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. Three ounces of salmon or sardines provides 100 to 120 calories. Three ounces of high-fat cheese provides over 300 calories. To keep your dishes light, bake, broil or grill fish instead of frying, and avoid high-fat additions, such as butter and creamy sauces.
- Weight-control Information Network: Weight-loss and Nutrition Myths
- British Journal of Nutrition; Milk Supplementation Facilitates Appetite Control in Obese Women During Weight Loss: A Randomised, Singleblind, Placebocontrolled Trial
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load
- Mayo Clinic: Energy Density and Weight Loss: Feel Full on Fewer Calories
- The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension; Calcium and Calorie Content of Selected Foods
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images