Food to Lose Weight: What Helps?

Written by
The Manual Team
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
7th January 2022

In 30 seconds

Losing weight starts with eating well. Fibres found in fruit, vegetables, beans and lentils make you feel full more quickly. Lean proteins – such as salmon, eggs, and chicken breast – have a similar effect. Yet, changing your diet won’t help weight loss all by itself. To support these foods to lose weight, other strategies are crucial, such as not skipping breakfast, using a smaller plate, and swapping out unhealthy snacks for fruit. Lifestyle changes such as sleeping well, exercising, and cutting down on alcohol will also make a difference.

What to Eat to Help Weight Loss

A healthy lifestyle starts with healthy eating. But that doesn’t mean simply cutting down on food to lose weight. Instead, it means finding the balance of nutrients, carbs, and healthy fats that can support your quest for a healthy weight – and a healthy lifestyle overall.

So, what are some healthy foods that support an optimal body weight? Here, we share a few options and some ways to eat that can make sticking to a weight loss plan that little bit easier.

Note: Bodyweight is not the only factor that contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Ensuring you are active and following a balanced diet is always more important than simply weighing less.

Foods to Lose Weight

So, what are the best foods to help healthy weight loss? Here are the three most important food groups that you should include in your weight loss diet.

  • High fibre foods: Foods high in natural fibres – also known as roughage – are crucial to any weight loss plan. Why? As your body cannot actually digest fibre, it passes through your bowels to help keep everything moving smoothly while flushing out cholesterol. Importantly, though, fibre makes you feel full for longer – and studies show that feeling fuller leads to a lower calorie intake in the long run.

    What are high-fibre foods? You’ll find lots of roughage in plant-based foods, such as:
    • Fruit and veggies – particularly cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and sprouts
    • Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, and rye
    • Brown rice and pasta
    • Legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils
    • Chia seeds. One of the most famous modern superfoods, chia seeds contain as much as 40% of your fibre needs.
  • Lean proteins: In the past, proteins have had a bad rap. That’s because very high-protein diets have been linked to heart disease and colon cancer. Yet, regular intake of lean proteins – and plant-based proteins in particular – is essential for a healthy diet. That’s because, like fibres, proteins fill you up. They’ve been shown to reduce food cravings and snacking, helping you avoid extra calories throughout the day.

Your best options for healthy proteins are:

  • Fish. From tuna to squid, fish is an excellent source of healthy proteins – and can bring extra health benefits thanks to its high vitamin content and omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Lean meat. Rather than red meat, go for lean meats like chicken.
  • Nuts. Unsalted nuts are an excellent source of protein as well as healthy fats. Try incorporating peanut butter into your breakfasts (the ones with no added sugar), or use nuts as a healthy snack.
  • Legumes. Combined with their fibre content, beans, lentils, and chickpeas are high in proteins too. 

Note: It’s worth saying at this point that all proteins aren’t created equal – and the way you cook them will make a big difference to their healthiness. Avoid frying anything, and choose grilled or boiled options instead.

  • Complex carbohydrates: Carbs have a similar reputation to proteins – i.e. you should avoid them if you want to lose weight. But in reality, that’s just not true. Those known as “complex” carbs, like whole grain, cereals, unpeeled potatoes, and (again!) legumes contain important nutrients like iron and vitamin B – along with that all important fibre.

Try some of the following:

  • Potatoes. Boiled, with the skin on. They will help feelings of satiety (fullness) and give you the fibre you need. But watch how you cook them. Frying them or adding butter is not recommended.
  • Grains. Oats, barley, rye, and quinoa are excellent sources of carbohydrates.

Tips to Support Healthy Eating

Eating healthily and losing weight isn’t simply about what you put in your body. How much you eat and when can play just as big a role. With that in mind, here are some things to consider when thinking about foods to lose weight.

  • Don’t skip breakfast: As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day – it sets you up with the energy you need. Studies have shown that breakfasts high in protein and fibre make you less likely to snack throughout the day.
  • Reduce portion sizes: Portion sizes have grown over the decades, often without us having noticed. Using a smaller plate can help you reduce the amount you eat.
  • Eat slowly: People who eat on the go or while they’re distracted tend to eat a greater number of calories. Taking the time to enjoy your food can help you recognise your feelings of fullness before you overeat.
  • Drink lots of water: Water fills you up. Drinking half a litre of water half an hour before a meal has been found to reduce the number of calories that you’ll eat.

What Else Can I Do to Lose Weight?

Losing weight is not just about the foods you eat. In fact, alongside eating the right foods to lose weight, it’s worth trying some of the following:

  • Improve your sleep: Did you know that low-quality sleep affects your food choices? Specifically, it causes you to snack more, choose higher energy foods, and have larger portion sizes. Finding ways to improve your sleep – such as sleep supplements or exercise – will be a key part of your healthy eating plan.

Find out more: How Much Sleep Do I Need?

  • Exercise: Physical activity is one of the surest ways to help you lose weight. Here every little helps. Doctors recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. That’s exercise that makes you slightly breathless and sweaty.
  • Cut down alcohol: Alcohol is very high in energy – and it prevents your body from breaking down fats. This makes it a significant cause of weight gain. It also makes you sleep less well, which can cause a vicious cycle in which you overeat.

Key Takeaways

The best foods to help weight loss? Fruit, vegetables, and other plant-based foods that are high in fibre will be your best friend. A range of lean proteins – particularly plant-based ones – will be important too.

Yet, losing weight isn’t just about eating the right foods. Cutting down on portion sizes and alcohol, and exercising to burn fat, are crucial. And sleep – a factor that’s often overlooked in weight loss plans – will play an essential role too. 

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What Foods Help Burn Belly Fat?

To help burn belly fat, you’ll want to reduce your intake of processed foods and increase the amount of natural fibre and proteins that you eat. Foods such as legumes, nuts, fish, and lean meat are what to aim for.

If you want to burn body fat and improve your health, don’t neglect exercise. Doctors recommend 150 minutes a week. 

What is the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

A diet rich in natural fibres and proteins will be the best diet for weight loss. Why? Because these help you feel full, they give you many of the vitamins and minerals you need, and they are much healthier alternatives to processed foods and sugary drinks.

What is the Best Way to Lose Weight?

Combining healthy foods to lose weight with fat-burning exercise and healthy sleep is the best way to lose weight.

Yet, ultimately, losing weight may not always be your priority. Sustaining an active, healthy lifestyle is more important than simple weight loss in the longer term.


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While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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