Four in ten American adults are obese, and obesity rates continue to climb nationwide.
That’s according to the State of Obesity 2022: Better Policies for a Healthier America report. The CDC reports more than 40% of adults and nearly 20% of children are obese.
The causes of obesity are complex and multi-faceted, but they can broadly be divided into two categories: lifestyle choices and genetic factors.
But what if you could eat more food and not experience weight gain?
While it may seem counterintuitive, eating more of the right nutrient-dense foods can help you accomplish your weight loss goals.
Science Backed Ways To Lose Weight
Though many fad diets and quick-fix solutions are available, lasting weight loss requires changes to your diet and lifestyle.
The essential factor for weight loss is creating a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than you burn. One of the most effective ways of accomplishing that is to eat more nutrient-dense foods.
Nutrient-dense foods contain a high number of nutrients relative to their calorie content. Most importantly, they are high in fiber and water. The more of these foods you add to your diet, the easier it will be to stay full and achieve your weight loss goals.
Here are 11 powerful nutrient-dense foods that can help you lose weight.
1. Plain Greek Yogurt
A cup of plain Greek yogurt has around 20 grams of protein and only 130 calories. The high protein content helps keep you full, while the lack of sugar minimizes caloric density.
Cultured yogurt has other benefits, such as being a good source of calcium and helping to improve gut health and digestion due to the probiotics present in the yogurt.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that come from a plant in the mint family. These small seeds contain lots of nutrients, including fiber, protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Just one ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber and four grams of protein, making them an incredibly filling food. You can add them to your yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies.
Pickles are cucumbers that have been soaked in vinegar or brine solution. Though they are often high in sodium, pickles are low in calories and can help to curb your appetite.
A single ounce of pickles contains only around five calories. Still, their water and heavy flavor profile can keep you feeling full and satisfied. Pickles make for a great snack or as part of a meal.
Watermelon is a refreshing and hydrating fruit that’s also low in calories. One cup of watermelon contains only 45 calories and is a good source of vitamins A and C.
This tasty fruit is also over 90% water, which helps to keep you hydrated and satiated by occupying space in your stomach.
Berries are a great option to help you satisfy your sweet tooth due to their natural sugar content while still being a nutrient-rich food. Berries make a great snack that you can add to yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothies.
Also, the high water content in berries helps to keep you hydrated and satiated. One cup of strawberries contains only 50 calories and is a good fiber and vitamin C source.
Grapefruits are tart citrus fruits that have a long history of use in cooking.
Grapefruits and other citrus fruits are full of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds that help fight inflammation and may help to lower blood pressure.
There are only 70 calories in one grapefruit.
7. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is one of the leanest sources of protein and is relatively low in calories.
A four-ounce serving of skinless chicken breast contains 27 grams of protein but only 140 calories, making it an excellent food for those trying to lose weight or build muscle mass.
Mushrooms are another staple food that can increase satiety while dieting. They are low in calories but high in water and fiber, which helps to keep you full.
One cup of mushrooms contains only 22 calories but provides three grams of protein and four grams of fiber.
Leafy green vegetables are the best food to include in your diet when trying to lose weight. They are very low in calories but high in nutrients.
One cup of spinach contains only seven calories. Still, it is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as magnesium and iron. Spinach can be eaten raw or cooked and goes well in salads, smoothies, and soups.
Peas are a vegetable often overlooked in healthy eating but can be very helpful when trying to lose weight.
One cup of peas contains around 120 calories and eight grams of protein. Try consuming them as a side dish or adding them to soups and stews.
Peas are also a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K, manganese, and folate.
11. Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower is a low-carbohydrate vegetable that is high in fiber and nutrients. One cup of cauliflower contains only 20 calories.
This veggie is also a good source of vitamins C, K, and B complex vitamins. The great thing about cauliflower is that it is voluminous and goes well with many different flavors.
You can add cauliflower to your diet in various ways, such as roasting it, adding it to soups or stews, or using it as a rice replacement.
How to Exercise for Weight Loss
Exercise is another helpful tool for losing weight, though it is not as important as diet. Increasing your physical activity can help improve your metabolism and increase the number of calories you burn regularly.
Exercise options include:
Aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling, running, or swimmingWeight training for increasing muscle mass and strengthCalisthenics for improving relative strengthOf the three, aerobic exercise is the most effective for weight loss due to the duration of the activity.
However, resistance training can help you maintain muscle mass while you lose fat.
Either way, the key is finding an activity you enjoy and can stick with long-term. Creating a workout routine that you look forward to will make you more likely to stick with it and achieve successful weight loss.
Eating regular portions of nutrient-dense foods will help you to feel full and satisfied. These foods are low in calories and have high water, protein, or fiber content, all of which help to increase satiety, making it hard to overeat, while providing your body with numerous health benefits. Exercise can enhance those benefits and help accelerate weight loss.
Consider adding some of these nutrient-dense foods to your daily diet.